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Swede Smell of Success

Dolph Lundgren rises again

by George Wayne, Vanity Fair, June 1995

Fullbright scholar, karate champ, bouncer, movie star, boyfriend or Grace Jones-it was a rich and varied lire for Dolph Lundgren. Then, suddenly, the screen went dark. But now, GEORGE WAYNE reports, the muscular Swede is back from his European exile and ready for his close-up.

George Wayne: So, Dolph, darling, tell me about this new movie, Johnny Mnemonic.
Dolph Lundgren: It's based on a William Gibson story- you know, the guy who started the cyberpunk movement? I play a preacher.
G.W. So you have a good-guy role?
D.L. No, he's a villain, but an interesting villain.
G.W. The thing I really dig about you, Dolph, is that you not only have the brawn but you have a brain. I hear you were a Fullbright scholar!
D.L. Yes, that's why I came over here, to go to grad school at M.I.T.
G.W. But weren't you a night-club bouncer?
D.L. I worked at Private Eyes as a doorman, and did a little modeling after I dropped out or school, but I didn't do too well, because they thought I was too big.
G.W. Let's go over your relation with Grace Jones. How did you ever hook up with a wacko like Grace?
D.L. She's not a wacko. I'd say she's an eccentric artist. We met backstage at one or her concerts, where I was doing security, as usual.
G.W. I used to think that Grace and Dolph were so fabulous! I'll never forget that night at Area when you and Grace made an entrance. You were wearing nothing but a pair of tight leather pants!
D.L. Oh God, those were my crazy days!
G.W. Another favorite image is that Albert Watson photo-you're both nude, and she's wrapped around you like the only black panther
D.L. I remember that one It was after I ran into Andy Warhol at a club, and I didn't know who he was, and he came up to me and said, "So what are you famous for?" And I said, "Nothing, as far as I know." And then he did this article on Grace and me in Interview.
G.W. What did your parents think about Grace?
D.L. My mother was very cool, but I think my dad had a few problems. He couldn't figure out what he did wrong, but he came around. Now I've married a Swedish girl.
G.W. Yeah, tell me about this plain Jane you just got married to.
D.L. She's not plain-Jane, no way! She was a fashion stylist and jewelry designer, so we had some similar interests, and, or course, she is Swedish.
G.W. What do you think about Jean-Claude Van Damme?
D.L. Well. . . he's amazingly successful.
G.W. Aren 't you surprised? He's shot up there, and you're still down here.
D.L. No. I moved here because I wanted to be an actor. I was a movie star before having the chance to become an actor, so now I'm trying to backtrack.
G.W. Do you think that Hollywood thinks you're a has-been ?
D.L. Maybe, because in Hollywood they are either at your throat or at your feet. It's the name or the game; it's nothing personal. It's a very cynical business, but I'd like to try and do it a little more on my own terms.
G.W. Are there any nude photos of Dolph floating around ?
D.L. Aaahm . . . no.
G.W. Oh come on! You've never posed nude ?
D.L. I've never seen them. I've never done frontal nudity, but I did a photo with Skrebneski . . .
G.W. Frontal?
D.L. No, sorry.
G.W. Remember that time when I groped you backstage at a concert? This was donkey years ago!
D.L. You did? Oh shit! I don't know, maybe I'd had too many drinks.
G.W. You didn't seem to mind.
D.L. Yeah?
G.W. Which of his assets is Dolph the most proud of?
D.L. That's a good question. I'm trying to be kinder to myself, to look at myself more positively. Let's see. . . persistence. If I want to get somewhere, I get there.