Swedish Actor on the Job
The darkly angelic Dolph Lundgren reveals (almost) all
by Marianne Gray, Film Review (UK), September 1990
Met (Hans) Dolph Lundgren the other day, in town to promote his latest movie, Dark Angel. Master of his universe, the big, blond, beautiful Swede was unexpectedly cool, witty, charming and intelligent.
No way can this man be dismissed as yet another piece of body-building brawn who's done well in Tinsel Town.
Even when asked the standard 'trick' question showbiz hacks love to throw in, about which Shakespeare character he'd like to play (most actors say Hamlet, now that Mel Gibson's brought the Bard in from the cold, courtesy of Franco Zeffirelli), Lundgren excelled.
His reply. "Mark Anthony because he read poetry before cutting somebody's head off!" Thirty-year-old Lundgren whose biceps, according to his PR agent, are two inches larger than those of Sylvester Stallone has three films scheduled backto-back, and a French film on hold.
He's already into working as producer, says he'd like to direct, and plans to return to Sweden to act there in his native tongue ("for sentimental reasons").
"Basically, I want to find directions in which my career wouldn't normally go. I don't like movies with too much unwarranted violence, and won't do them. You shouldn't go over the line, even if movie violence is tongue-in-cheek violence.
"Because of my shape, I can hardly be cast as a five-foot wimp - maybe a six-foot wimp! But I certainly could do comedy or romantic comedy.
"Until recently, I didn't mind playing dumb bruisers - Marlon Brando, John Wayne, James Dean, everybody starts out being typecast.
"I know I can't change too much too fast, I couldn't have gone from playing Ivan Drago (in Rocky IV) to playing The Pope!
"Right now, I don't know where my career is going, Ten years ago, I was at college and didn't know about movies. I can hardly plan ten days ahead. I'm still putting next week together! But I've got this body, and I like using it. If you've got lemons, man, make lemonade!"
Dolph's upcoming films are all more or less in the genre we're used to seeing him in - mainly body and high action.
Being shot in Israel, there's Cover Up, a CIA drama in which he plays a journalist who falls for an American attache (Lisa Berkley).
Set to shoot on location in New York is a street-Ievel cop flick called Warrant, in which he's both cop and co-producer.
And primed for Portugal, Hungary and the US there's Universal Soldier, an actioner about genetically-engineered infantrymen which will also star martial-arts movie star JeanClaude Van Damme.
"Jean-Claude and I share the same lawyer," says Dolph, "so we signed up at the same time. I think it will be good working together. The film is about a large American corporation that develops genetically engineered soldiers to sell to the Pentagon. It should be very visual. It's got a huge budget" He added that he did not imagine it would be a bargain-basement RoboCop !
So, who is this guy, and how did he cut through the chaff to maki so big?
Born a Scorpio in Stockholm, the son of two academics, at 15 he had a first-degree black belt karate. By 16, he was a successful rock drummer and trombonist. And, by 20, European heavyweight kick-boxing cham.
By 21, he was a sought-after model; by 22, a scholarship science (chemical engineering degree holder; by 23, a film sta (having got lucky when he was with (then) girlfriend Grace Jones, on the set of View To A Kill, and obliged, as nobody else looked impressive enough, by walking holding a gun for 20 seconds).
"That was the start of my film career. So easy, I thought. Ther took six months getting the Ivan Drago role in Rocky IV. First they rejected me as being too tall- 6ft 6in. Then I had to put on 15lb of muscle Not so easy, after all!" "I don't feel any pressure on I to compete. Everybody always asks me how I feel about Schwarzenegger He's not a ri\ We don't make the same kind of movies. I'm still young and exploring the business, with on seven movies behind me (the others include Masters Of The Universe, Red Scorpion and The Punisher). He is part of the establishment.
"I'm very happy with the way life's going. I'd rather have some time to stay home in Malibu, to play tennis, read and to be with my girlfriend (model Paula Barbieri).
"I love clothes, and I'll travel thousand miles to attend a fashion show. I love shooting films in Europe just to be able to buy some new suits!"