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A Celebrity Interview With Larger-Than-Life Dolph Lundgren!
"I must break you", were the spine tingling words that were uttered around the world when Rocky IV hit the box office during the 80's, a time when action heroes ruled supreme. The knuckles on your hands would turn white as you clutched the end of the seat watching the intimidating Ivan Drago look down on Rocky appearing like he was about to drop him like a pair of soggy underpants around the ankles.
Dolph Lundgren looked very impressive when stacking the odds of him taking down Sly in the rounds that were about to unfold, and this was mainly due to the extremely developed muscle that held onto Lundgren like a couple of bantamweights wrapped around his 6'3" frame.
Women drooled over his razor jaw line and serrated abs... and come to think of it, so did the guys. Everyone wanted to have his perfectly proportioned physique knowing that this was something the female counterpart longed to have as a cuddling cushion.
Another heavyweight giant, Bodybuilding.com, organized a rendezvous point with Dolph, a martial arts legend, in LA so we could provide you with an all access pass to The Universal Soldier, He-Man, Ivan Drago and his workout regime, which at 51 years old, preserves him like a top-shelf vintage wine - getting better with age.
Being both of Swedish heritages and interviewing someone who is a national icon was an honor that will stay with me for the rest of my life. But this was only highlighted by the fact that Dolph is a very humble, witty and a very approachable individual that radiates positive influence... oh, and did I mention he is even more handsome in person?
Dolph trains in Equinox gym in Westwood which proved to be the perfect stomping ground for our photo shoot. Free weights, state of the art machines, a swimming pool, punch pads and of course a martial art studio was all the toys needed for the Swedish machine to showcase his multi-crafts of talent to develop the accompanying images.
The towering figure greeted us within the foyer of Equinox wearing a Spanish martial arts tracksuit as it would appear that Dolph is the leader of the national karate team in the country he now resides. Looking like a man in his 30's rather than his 50's, Lundgren is the poster boy of precise nutrition, supplementation and exercise application that he has practiced for over 35 years.
His martial arts agility and speed is still so fast that the trigger finger of the photographer eventually had to hold the "repeat" button down in order to capture the pictures of his ferocious power with precision. His trainer vouched for Lundgren's intensity when he strapped a padded abdominal and kidney protector to himself due to the amount of bruising he received on their last sparring session.
Click Image To Enlarge.
His Trainer Vouched For His Intensity When He Strapped
A Padded Abdominal & Kidney Protector To Himself.
The pad and punch bag work combined with his routine stretch was to be the perfect warm-up for the resistance regime that ensued before cooling down with laps of the pool. As we sat in the sweltering LA heat, Dolph rehydrated with a protein and carbohydrate drink whilst I interviewed him for your reading pleasure, your curiosity on how he prepared for Rocky IV, and how he still maintains his awesome appearance at 51 years old.
I introduce to you part 1 of our in-depth exclusive interview with Dolph Lundgren.
[ Q ] Some people may not know that you had accomplished a lot before you had even stepped in front of the movie camera. Can you give us a brief history of your education, travels and martial arts achievements before you broke into Hollywood?
[ A ] Well I am from Sweden as you know, just as yourself. I started studying engineering in school and went to university in Sweden. After being given scholarships to study in different countries I went to both the United States and Australia for further studying.
At the same time as I was educating myself to become an engineer I also did martial arts, the Kyokushin-Kai Karate, which is full contact karate. My life was at this time training, competing and studying. The competition side of things went very well for me and among the many titles I won was the Australia Open Knockout Tournament.
My scholarship brought me to New York City and of course I met a girl. There's a girl behind everything, isn't there? I met this famous singer called Grace Jones who was very famous back then in the 80's and she lived and worked in NY. We hung out together a lot and later became a couple.
This brought me into the world of show business. It was exciting for me since it was something I always wanted to do since I was a kid. Earlier, back in Sweden, I did a lot of theater and had a very big interest in music, so this was very natural and I felt this was real life for me.
I then decided to become an unemployed actor and give up my scholarship. I worked for a while and also took acting lessons before I took the next step to move to LA to start making movies.
That was of course a big step for me, but at same time I didn't want to be an engineer for the rest of my life, it didn't seem that exciting. I just couldn't see myself shaking test tubes for the rest of my life.
I also used to play the drums and the trombone. As a matter of fact I am making a film right now that I am directing that takes place during a rock concert and I am playing the character of a drummer. Apart from the action, this movie contains a lot of music and performance which makes it really exciting and fun to be involved in since it takes me back to my interest in music.
[ Q ] I am sure not many people knew that you had this talent and expertise as a musician.
[ A ] Well I wouldn't call it expertise, I had to practice a lot to get back to it and pick it up again. But I really enjoy music and of course to play the drums.
[ Q ] You had extremely generous proportions in regards of muscularity for a martial artist. Do you feel this helps or hinders you as a fighter?
[ A ] Yes, if you get too big then it does work against you since it slows you down. You need a certain amount of slow twitch
muscle fibers to have the
endurance and in addition to the speed. But I also think if you are involved in martial arts you will build a certain muscle mass that gives you that harmonious physique.
[ Q ] Did you purposely build your body for martial arts or was it more for cosmetics to break into movies?
[ A ] At first, I started building muscle for martial arts to become stronger and a better fighter. I did a lot of leg work with exercises like
deadlifts and training with different leg machines.
I was very thin but muscular built with big, strong legs. I needed my big legs to move around at speed whilst keeping perfect balance. Of course you needed a strong overall physique to throw hard punches. If you look at many fighters they are very thin but muscular built so they have that torque in their body to produce power.
My physique and training totally changed when I got involved with Rocky IV and met Sylvester Stallone to do the audition for the movie. He told me I had to put on more upper body weight and more overall size. This made me start doing bodybuilding 6 days a week with different muscle group splits. Now I am going back to what I did when I was younger and training more for the purpose of martial arts.
[ Q ] You put on a lot of muscle for your legendary role of Ivan Drago in Rocky IV. This was obviously a requirement for the role. How much weight did you put on?
[ A ] Well, first I had to audition for it and Sylvester wanted me to gain 10 kg which is about 22 lbs. So first I trained by myself for 6 months. I met him in the summer and then by Christmas I did the screen test. So in 6 months I put on maybe 5kg of real muscle mass doing heavy bodybuilding training 6 days a week. After I got the part I trained with Stallone and managed to put on 2 more kg and got a lot more cut.
[ Q ] How did it feel to train with someone like Sylvester Stallone since you were a total newcomer in the movie business?
[ A ] Well I was very good in martial arts by this time but I was a nobody in the show business. So of course I was very impressed by him, but more for his knowledge and experience within health and fitness. I looked up to him and respect him very much.
[ Q ] Can you tell us what your training regime looked like for that role?
[ A ] I was training with Sylvester for 5 months with a daily routine of 2 hours of bodybuilding training in morning. We were training a different muscles split, usually 2 muscle groups, and then we did 2 hours of
boxing in afternoon. The weight training was very intense and together with the boxing, I became very cut.
[ Q ] And what about nutrition and supplementation?
[ A ] There were a lot of changes from when I did martial arts. We really didn't have anything like a
nutrition plan back then but we did practice
carb loading before every fight. We would eat more
protein and no carbs for 3, 4, even up to 5 days to deplete the body and then would carb up with complex carbs the day before the fight. But for this role it was different.
Sylvester Stallone was very good with nutrition and he put me on a much higher protein diet with less carbs and less fat. He also had me eating 5 to 6 meals per day with supplementation. I was living the life of a bodybuilder, and I actually continued training and eating like this for about 5 years around that time.
[ Q ] During the fight scenes in Rocky IV it looked like there was a lot of contact. Did either you or Stallone get hurt?
[ A ] We got hurt most of the time in training and preparation because we would get a script with all the punches. With 20 pages saying left-right-left-right-3 jabs-left hook-left upper cut... it just kept going like that page after page and you have to try to memorize everything.
So obviously when you are moving fast and don't remember all the instructions then you would get hit because you forgot to duck the right way or something. Yeah, we got hit pretty much in the beginning. Also, in the fight scenes you have to go real hard to the body because you can't really fake that, and we couldn't fake the slow motion scenes.
Click Image To Enlarge.
When You Are Moving Fast & Don't Remember
All The Intructions You Would Get Hit.
We wanted it to look real so we had to take some hits. In the slow motion scenes when the head shakes and sweat starts flying it became routine to take some aspirins after the filming and go home. You got used to it.
[ Q ] Although Universal Soldier was an action movie that starred yourself and Jean-Claude Van Damme as the title roles, you displayed some very good acting skills. At this point did you ever feel the need to tone down your physique to try for more "emotional" roles?
[ A ] Thank you. You mean romantic (laughs)? Sure, the thought had crossed my mind many times but you have to follow the direction that the movie business kind of points out to you. You know this is what they call show business and it is of course all about making money.
For me, I preferred to go for roles I knew I would make money instead of trying something I didn't know would work and sell. I have a good physique and already have made money with that look, so it was those roles I kept doing.
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For me it has been a lot of action movies, but lately since I started directing, I try to have more fun doing film by making different characters, more stories and put some comedy parts in the movie. It is easy to do many characters too when you are directing since it is your movie, you are in charge.
[ Q ] I know you now have your own production company too: "The Thor Production". Does it make you more complete and fulfilled now when you are apart from acting to also direct your movies?
[ A ] Yes, Since I have been acting in 45 movies it feels like I know that and done that. For an actor it doesn't really matter if it is a low budget or high budget movie, you work pretty much the same in all productions.
As a director it is more challenging since you are in charge of the movie. You are the one telling the story and you are the one that affects the audience. It will always be different challenges for different movies. This is what I like to do now and it feels right.
[ Q ] You did all of your stunts yourself. Did your physical strength and muscular physique help with your agility in order to do this?
[ A ] Yes, definitely. The fact that I have been involved in
sports all my life has been very helpful. First of all, if you have muscle mass you can protect your body, joints and bones when you fall. Also I think sports gives you a better reaction. You can actually trust yourself.
If something would go wrong, and trust me it always goes wrong in movie sets, then you know you can get out of it and prevent yourself from injuries. You can react and adjust quickly.
Injury Prevention Articles:
[ Q ] Did you ever get hurt?
[ A ] I always get some scratches that will remind me of the movie I am making.
The same happened in this last movie I directed, "The Missionary man". I was driving this old Harley motorbike in one scene with a lot of extras around me. All of a sudden I noticed that this 30 years old motorbike wouldn't do what I wanted it to do.
I have all these extras in front of me watching me coming towards them and I can't turn the bike. There are a lot of kids there too and they are cheering and screaming because they think this it is a part of the movie.
Finally I had to drop the bike and it ended up on top of my foot. That's why I still have a sore foot since I injured some ligaments quite badly. But other than that I been very lucky and haven't had any really bad injuries.
[ Q ] You look so young for a person of 50 years old; in fact you still look like you are in your thirties. Does your nutrition, supplementation and exercise regime support this youthful appearance or do you contribute it to our amazing Swedish genetics?
[ A ] Thank you. Well looking at you it has to be our Swedish genetics (laughs).
I definitely think that the combination of good nutrition, supplementation and training does support our ability to maintain a healthier appearance. I also think that taking part in sports that involves reaction and adrenaline getting pumped around the body promotes a healthy appearance.
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