He-Man Masters Hollywood
by William Franklin,
Men's Fitness, Vol. 3, N°8, September 1987
Dolph Lundgren may have mastered
the universe as He-Man in the upcoming, much ballyhooed Cannon
Films release, but conquering Hollywood may be more of a challenge
for the Swedish kickboxer-turned cinematic icon.
But Lundgren exudes confidence as he prepares for the anticipated
battles with agents, producers and the press. With a triumphant
film debut in Rocky IV, as Stallone's ultimate Russian nemesis,
and now with the larger-than-life lead performance in Masters
of the Universe tucked under his he-man-sized belt, Lundgren
seems prepared-even anxious-to go the distance in Tinseltown.
"I've learned a lot about this place," says the six-foot
six actor as he muses about his experiences following the success
of Rocky IV "Many people in Hollywood have their priorities
completely out of sync. There's such an overemphasis on fame
and fortune and there's so much that's completely out of the
"The stark truth is there is only one way to go if you're
at the top," he continues. "Some people are never happy,
even when they are at the top. Above everything else, I plan
to be happy."
Part of Lundgren's sense of contentment may be attributed to
his decision to make a quick exit from the frantic, fast-lane
lifestyle that found him out till dawn-one night in New York,
the next in Paris or Buenos Aires-usually accompanied by the
legendary Grace Jones. Lundgren explains that although his much
publicized romance with the dynamic Jones is over, they remain
close friends. "We did everything we could, but it just
wasn't right and we couldn't force it," he explains.
Currently Lundgren is talking houses, friends and financial security,
a whole new lexicon for the once irrepressible late-nighter.
"It's time for me to revert to the basics, to have a more
normal life. I've been seeing a beautiful Italian-American woman
for a couple of months now, and with her my life has calmed down
The former chemical engineer, who was offered a Fulbright scholarship
to study at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
may be reverting to basics, but his monumental portrayal of He-Man,
produced by the famed Golan-Globus team, is anything but scaled
"I had to train for four months for this role," Lundgren
says, "and I had to continue to work out daily during the
5l/2-week shoot. Sometimes I'd have to get up at 5 A.M. to get
in a 45minute workout during the day. I would break up my exercises,
doing my chest in the morning, for example, my shoulders during
lunch and putting in some time on the stationary bicycle in the
evening. And, of course, I would pump up on the set a lot during
"The combination of training hard and being involved in
a lot of action scenes," he explains, "made it essential
for me to treat my body well and also to obtain maximum recuperation.
So I got regular massages from Drew Francis, who also works on
John McEnroe and Chris Evert Lloyd, to stay loose and maintain
good muscle tone. And when that isn't enough and I needed some
kinks worked out, I relied on my chiropractor, Greg Teft. "My
diet was much better planned than it had been for Rocky IV"
Lundgren says. "I talked to a number of nutritionists, and
the program I came up with was very, very strict. For example,
I cut out fats as much as possible. I wouldn't eat bread, dressings
or sauces. Everything had to be unprocessed, quality food with
high nutrition and no extra calories.
"My fluid intake was water, iced tea and coffee. After a
while, I adjusted to always being just a little hungry. I got
used to it because I knew that it contributed to how good I looked
on screen. But beyond that, being hungry makes you edgy and more
aggressive, and I found this contributed to my being able to
play He-Man, a character filled with restless energy-just barely
"I playa fantasy character, but I tried to bring some realism
to the role. I tried to show a soft side along with a hard side,
and to incorporate some wit and intelligence along with the brawn.
He-Man is larger than life, but he's also a Renaissance man."
When quizzed about his own attitudes, Lundgren responds, "My
sense of what it means to be a man in the '80s revolves around
a balance between one's emotional side and one's physical side.
There has to be a balance there. The combination of emotionality
and physicality creates a kind of sensuality I think is essential
for contemporary man."
Lundgren expresses admiration for Marion Brando, an actor he
sees as possessing a winning combination of the overtly physical
and the unapologetically vulnerable. "Brando was the first
to play the likable villain. The Wild One was a great image.
I would like to play those kinds of roles, not the sugar-soft
kind. Or a good kind of guy who's slightly unlikable. You've
got to have those two sides, other-wise you're boring."
Lundgren is unlikely to bore audiences with his next project,
in which he will playa chiaroscuro, good-bad character: an assassin
with a heart of gold. "I'm looking forward to filming in
Namibia, on the southwest coast of Africa. It's an R-rated action/adventure/
drama with political overtones." The as yet untitled Warner
Bros. project is currently in preproduction, with a start day
slated for mid-August.
Lundgren insists that it's probably his European upbringing that
has inculcated in him his "dark side." "Europeans
tend to have a slightly more decadent, raw, sensual side to them,
which is why the press in Europe seems much more responsive to
me. Many Americans don't pick this up." Lundgren's future
plans include making the kind of "art films" most often
produced in Europe, as well as the more commercially oriented
audience-pleasers he insists American filmmakers do so well.
"In the States everything revolves around the dollar,"
he says. "Commercial success is everything. I would like
to do the small art film as well as the big American box-office
hit. Ultimately, as with everything else, there has to be a balance.
And a balance in Hollywood is not easy to achieve."