muscles his way to movie stardom
Kim, Chicago Sun-Times, November 4, 1986
WHITTIER, Calif. -- Before he hit it big last year as the Russian
boxer in "Rocky IV," Dolph Lundgren was best known
as the boyfriend of singer/actress Grace Jones. Today, the Swedish
actor doesn't have a steady girlfriend. He's too busy starring
in "Masters of the Universe" for Cannon Films.
Lundgren also is being recognized in Chicago as the model for
posters promoting the 22nd Chicago International Film Festival,
which runs through Nov. 13.
Standing just under 6 feet 6 inches and weighing 245 pounds,
Lundgren no longer looks like the Soviet villain he portrayed
in "Rocky IV." Also gone is the Russian accent he practiced
for the role.
Lundgren was born and raised in Stockholm. "As a child,
I was short," he said. "Not very, very small, but below
average. I had a complex about it, and that's the reason I got
into sports. I kind of picked combat sports because they're tough
and so forth. I started doing judo and karate and lifted weights.
By the time I got in my
teens, I started growing and getting taller. When I was 19, I
was actually getting very good at sports, and so I started competing
at a world-class level."
Lundgren won the European heavyweight kick-boxing championship
in 1980 and 1981, and the Australian full-contact karate championship
in 1982. He also attended school full-time at the Royal Institute
of Stockholm and the University of Sydney. After graduating with
a degree in chemical engineering, Lundgren served the one-year
mandatory term in the Swedish army, specializing in anti-chemical
warfare and teaching hand-to-hand combat. Then he went to New
York to model before enrolling at the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology on a scholarship.
"I spent a short time working on my master's degree before
deciding to go to New York and try show business," Lundgren
said. "I've been around the world twice to promote `Rocky
IV.' I'm very lucky that Sly (Sylvester Stallone) selected me
for the role. Now, it's my turn to prove that I'm an actor and
not just a personality."
Photographer Victor Skrebneski had been aware of Lundgren because
of the publicity surrounding his relationship with Grace Jones.
After seeing "Rocky IV," Skrebneski decided he wanted
to photograph Lundgren
for the Film Festival poster. When Lundgren flew into Chicago
last June to pose for skin-care photos, the photographer asked
if he would like to be on the poster.
"We had on hand a certain amount of festival T-shirts, and
none of them were big enough for him," recalled Skrebneski.
"So he ended up ripping one apart and stretching it over
his body." "I wanted to look rough," said Lundgren.
"I didn't want it to look too clean, so we just created
some, um, atmosphere."
In "Masters of the Universe," Lundgren portrays the
cartoon character He-Man. As the strongest man on Eternia, He-Man
must save damsels in distress, fight off evil monsters and save
his planet from destruction.
"I chose `Masters' because He-Man is like the Superman of
the '80s. He's an old-type hero who doesn't kill people. He cracks
jokes, he's intelligent, he's strong and he's a role model for