Interview: Dolph Lundgren
The last time I interviewed Dolph Lundgren I got him to say “I mus break you.” I was so excited I told my then girlfriend about it, but I got into trouble because she thought it was a sexual remark. Any one of my friends can attest that I’m way too about Ivan Drago to think about sex. Unrelated note, we broke up a week later.
Anyway, I wanted to stay out of trouble this time so I didn’t ask Lundgren to repeat his famous threat for me. I did want to cover a lot though. The Expendables is coming out on DVD and Blu-ray Nov. 23, he’s set to direct another movie, another Universal Soldier is in the works and there’ve got to be some chemical equations I need his PhD smarts to solve.
At 7:45 in the morning, I got the call from Dolph Lundgren. The man’s an early bird and totally worth waking up for. Spoiler alert: This interview assumes you’ve seen The Expendables already, but if you’re waiting for the DVD, maybe skip to the middle questions after we discuss the plot of the movie.
Screen Junkies: Of course we’ve been following you whether your films come out in theaters or on video, but what did having The Expendables be such a phenomenon done for you?
Dolph Lundgren: I think it’s gotten me some exposure worldwide. Not just in this country but in Europe and Japan and all over the world. Also, I think on a personal note, it kind of just taught me that it’s good to be well prepared for a role because once you do your homework it’s always going to pay off. I feel more confident now that I can hold my own on the big screen against anybody really.
SJ: What sort of homework did you do for The Expendables?
DL: Well, I worked on this character a lot. I worked on the scenes and I worked on the backstory and his problems and emotionality. I think that’s what people responded to. It’s not like he’s crying his eyes out in every scene but you feel like there’s something going on on the inside. He’s not just walking around trying to be tough. He’s dealing with a lot of problems and that’s what I dealt with.
SJ: Why do you think Sly still casts you as a traitorous villain?
DL: You know, I’ve played some good villains and I have kind of a dark side of a personality. Unless you have a leading man type play a villain, it’s always very powerful. If you look like a villain and play a villain it’s not as good but if you look a bit more leading man-ish and you play a villain, I think it’s more powerful on screen. Maybe that’s why he did that.
SJ: Was it always intended for Jensen to come back around so he can be in Expendables 2?
DL: No, it wasn’t. In the original, Jensen dies. He gets killed. He’s the one who tells Sly who the bad guys are, but then he dies. It’s kind of a redemption there but then Sly decided to bring him back. In one draft he kind of came back and there was a big deal about it at the end, but then in this version he kind of just comes back and he’s just there. You just go, “Holy sh*t, he’s still alive? How did that happen?” But that’s how it is.
SJ: I was impressed you said both of your Rocky IV lines on “Chuck.” Did Sly not want to use the lines he wrote for you in The Expendables?
DL: No, there was nothing like that at all. Jensen is a bit different. He’s a little bit crazy and his energy is different than Drago I suppose. I think Sly’s had enough. He’s got so many one-liners in his head from other movies, I think he worries more about what’s going on in the new things rather than the old stuff.
SJ: Was it a big deal to say “I must break you” and “If he dies, he dies” on Chuck?
DL: It was kind of fun but you know I say them a lot anyway. Not in my private life but on radio shows and such, they always want me to say those lines so I’m kind of used to doing it. It was kind of fun to say the dramatic version in front of a camera. That was fun.
SJ: Your fight with Jet Li is one of the monumental confrontations of The Expendables. You’ve done a lot of fight scenes but what kind of new experience was that?
DL: The experience was most guys you fight in a movie aren’t movie stars. They’re extras or doubles or stunt men. It’s very rare you fight someone like Stallone or Van Damme if you’re a name actor. That’s always a highlight. Last time I fought somebody like that I guess would have been Van Damme in Universal Soldier, where the actor can fight so you’re actually with the actor. That was not new but I hadn’t done it in a while. In this case, things have changed a bit since I did Universal Soldier. There are more people involved. Jet has his stunt team and Stallone has his stunt coordinator and then I had a little bit of say, so you’ve got a lot of people involved. They end up doing reshoots because Stallone changes it 100 times. His signature is that he wants to try every possibility there is to do something. So it was fun. I’ve done it before but it was a good experience anyway.
SJ: Have you heard any talk of The Expendables 2?
DL: Well, I’ve heard plenty from Sly, various ideas. I think from what I can gather, they want to do something next summer. I don't know if I’m in it 100% but there’s a certain risk of that I guess. I don't know what the plot is yet but I think some of the old team are coming back and some aren’t. Some will probably get killed and some will survive and he’ll bring in some new blood I’m sure too.
SJ: Will you be in Universal Soldier: A New Dimension?
DL: I don't know yet. I haven’t seen the script. I know it’s all on IMDB and all that but no, I don't know. Hopefully there’s a way to work that into my schedule.
SJ: Are you surprised where that story has gone?
DL: I’ve never done any sequels so it’s kind of new to me. It was weird throwing Van Damme around after 18 years, wearing more or less the same outfit. It felt kind of strange but I suppose that’s where the business has gone now. It’s just so hard to get something released that anything that has a built in audience, any kind of name trademark value you keep doing them.
SJ: When was the last time you practiced your chemical engineering degree?
DL: Boy, apart from mixing drinks you mean? Well, let’s see. That’s a long time. Look, I’ve got some supplements and stuff I’m working on right now with my brother, who’s a biochemist. I’m working a little bit with him so I’m sort of a little bit involved but really the last time I did that kind of stuff was 20-25 years ago.
SJ: Are you doing In the Name of the King 2?
DL: Yeah, that’s right. I play an ex-middle ages war veteran who gets f*cked up but he gets pulled into some sort of medieval power struggle, kind of gets a bit of a redemption for all his pains in service. It’s a role I just wanted to [play.] It’s fun to exercise my acting chops once in a while. I’ve got to get ready for Expendables 2.
SJ: What are your thoughts on Uwe Boll’s reputation?
DL: Somebody just said he’s the evil genius of directing or something. I guess we’ll see.
We certainly will…