“Ivan Drago”

Appearing in: Rocky IV

Dolph Lundgren made an imposing film debut in more ways that simply portraying Ivan Drago, the fierce Russian boxer who challenges Rocky for the world championship. Drago is indeed a worthy successor to Rocky’s previous adversaries, Apollo Creed and Clubber Lang. Finding the right actor to match the physical prowess and athletic ability of Drago was no easy task but, eventually, Sylvester Stallone found his man in Swedish-born actor Dolph Lundgren.

The eldest son of four children, the six-foot-six, 240 pound blonde haired, blue eyed hunk was born in Stockholm in 1957 where he attended elementary and high school.


In the early 1980’s, Dolph traveled abroad on scholarship and studied at Washington State University in South Carolina. In 1982, he received a scholarship to complete his Masters degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Sydney in Australia. The following year, he was awarded a Fullbright Scholarship to the world-renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he ultimately earned a degree in chemical engineering.

In 1983, Lundgren, who boasted a magnificent physique, turned down offers to become a professional boxer and instead turned to modeling, with an eye toward an acting career. While on his way to Boston to continue his studies, he stopped in New York City and there his life took a radical turn. While working at the trendy Limelight Disco alongside actor Chazz Palminteri, Lundgren met with noted drama coach Warren Robertson, and decided to give acting a try. Lundgren made his feature film debut in the James Bond movie A View to a Kill (1985), which co-starred his then girlfriend Grace Jones.


Dolph’s first contact with Sylvester Stallone occurred when he auditioned for a role in Rambo. The young man didn’t get the part, but Sly remembered him and after interviewing nearly 5,000 other hopefuls, signed the brawny actor for the coveted part of Ivan Drago in his latest Rocky installment.

Dolph had ample experience to prepare himself for Rocky IV’s strenuous fight sequences. A world-class athlete, Lundgren took up martial arts at the age of 14. His accomplishments in the sport include being the captain of the Swedish full-contact karate team and the winner of the European Heavyweight Full-Contact Karate Championship in 1980 and 1981, as well as the Australian heavyweight division title in 1982. He’d also held the title of European Kick Boxing Champion.

Rocky IV’s success led Lundgren to star in numerous films including Masters of the Universe (1987), The Punisher (1989), Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991) opposite the late Brandon Lee, Universal Soldier (1992) and Johnny Mnemonic (1995). In 1993, he starred in Pentathlon (1994), an action-drama which he also produced under his own production company, Thor Pictures. While most his films tend to typecast him as a bicep-bulging hero, Lundgren is also a founding member of “Group of Eight,” a New York theater group started in 1994 which performed “Another Octopus”.

Lundgren’s lifelong interest in physical fitness led to a 1987 workout video entitled Maximum Potential. In 1994, Dolph married to Annette Qviberg, a jewelry designer and fashion stylist. Two years later, Lundgren was selected to serve as the Team Leader of the 1996 U.S. Olympic Pentathlon Team. The Lundgrens currently divide their time between New York City and Stockholm, Sweden. Their daughter Ida was born in April, 1996.

Rocky fans got a real treat in 2010 when Sylvester Stallone first brought Dolph into his mix of renegades in the smash hit, “The Expendables”. Sly and Dolph even share something of a fight scene in the film. The sequel, “Expendables 2”, opened in August, 2012, and the two teamed again in 2013 for yet another “Expendables” sequel.