9 Unbreakable Facts About Dolph Lundgren

Gabriel Buoys/Getty Images
Gabriel Buoys/Getty Images

Swedish-born actor Dolph Lundgren turns 60 years old on November 3, a fact that may make fans of his performance as Soviet bone-crusher Ivan Drago in 1985’s Rocky IV feel very old. While Drago might be his most memorable role, Lundgren’s personal life and career have taken several fascinating turns. Check out some facts about his education, his Hollywood travels, and the time he nearly punched co-star Sylvester Stallone into an early grave.   

1. HE MIGHT BE A GENIUS.

Born Hans Lundgren in 1957, the actor told NPR in 2014 that childhood allergies kept him out of sports and focused on school work. Growing up in Stockholm, Lundgren had ambitions to come live in America but was financially strapped. To make the move, he used his prowess in chemical engineering to graduate from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and earn a Fulbright scholarship to MIT. But before he could settle in on campus, Lundgren’s life took a detour: He met model and actress Grace Jones during a gig as a bouncer in New York City and decided to pursue acting instead.

2. SYLVESTER STALLONE THOUGHT HE WAS TOO TALL TO PLAY IVAN DRAGO.

Dating Jones led to Lundgren’s first onscreen appearance as a henchman in the 1985 James Bond film A View to a Kill. Not long after, he was cast by Sylvester Stallone to appear as Soviet Union boxer Ivan Drago in Rocky IV—but only after Stallone changed his mind. Internet opinions vary on Stallone’s actual height—estimates range from 5-feet 7-inches to just under six feet—but Stallone himself thought the six-foot, five-inch Lundgren was going to be too much of a stretch for the character of Drago and rejected him during their first meeting. Lundgren persevered, getting into boxing trunks and sending the photos to Stallone, who eventually relented and hired him six months later.

3. HE ALMOST KILLED STALLONE.

Maybe Stallone had the right idea after all. During rehearsals for their climatic fight scene, Stallone kept urging Lundgren to hit him harder. That was a mistake, as Lundgren—who had trained in karate and other martial arts—hit his co-star so hard in the chest that Stallone's heart began to swell. "Later that night my blood pressure goes up to 260, I go to hospital, they put me in an emergency jet, and fly me back to America,” Stallone recalled. “Next thing I know I’m in intensive care for five days with nuns walking around.”

4. HE HUNG OUT WITH ANDY WARHOL.

During his time prowling New York with Jones, Lundgren was a regular at Studio 54, which was then the city’s premier nightclub attraction. According to Lundgren, Warhol came up to him and asked what he was famous for before taking his picture. Warhol then invited him to do a magazine shoot with Jones.

5. HE PACKED HEAT AROUND NEW YORK.

In 2012, Lundgren told Men’s Health that he was sufficiently nervous about the crime rate in the pre-gentrified New York of the early 1980s that he bought two guns that he kept on his person—one in an ankle holster and one strapped to his chest. “I was always nervous that I'd be caught,” he said. “It's funny, part of me was afraid of the cops, and the other part was afraid of being mugged. It wasn't a nice feeling.”

6. HE ONCE BOXED A PROFESSIONAL FIGHTER.

In June 2007, Lundgren accepted an exhibition boxing match for Russian television against Oleg Taktarov, a former UFC competitor. According to Taktarov, Lundgren stepped in after promoters failed to secure the services of Mike Tyson. After five competitive rounds, Taktarov won by decision.

7. HE HAD SOME PROBLEMS WITH HE-MAN.

Lundgren’s highest-profile role of the 1980s outside of Drago was embodying He-Man in a live-action adaptation of the popular Mattel toy line. Because of Lundgren’s thick Swedish accent, producers seriously considered dubbing him over with a voiceover actor. But after several looping sessions, they deemed his vocal performance sufficient. (The movie bombed anyway.)

8. HE TURNED DOWN GLADIATOR.

Or a version of it, at least. The Oscar-winning film was released in 2000 and starred Russell Crowe as Maximus, the combat specialist who fights to be released from under the thumb of sadistic ruler Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix). Lundgren turned down the script six years prior. “I thought it was a piece of crap,” he told Esquire in 2015. “It had no action. This was before Russell Crowe and director Ridley Scott were on board. I can't remember what happened, but I remember not liking it. Huge mistake. But another skimpy outfit?”

9. HE MIGHT RETURN AS DRAGO.

While a lot of Lundgren’s recent films have skipped a theatrical release, 2018 may prove to be a renaissance period for the actor. He’s set to appear as undersea King Nereus in Aquaman opposite Jason Momoa. Lundgren has also dropped some not-very-subtle hints on social media about returning as Ivan Drago for Creed II, the sequel to 2015’s successful expansion of the Rocky franchise. The possibility seemed remote just a few years ago, when Lundgren swore that "I'm not pulling the old Ivan Drago shorts on again."

Orson Welles's Former Hollywood Hills Estate Is Taking Vacation Reservations

Fred Mott, Getty Images
Fred Mott, Getty Images

Orson Welles's former Hollywood Hills estate is a perfect place to get away from society, grow a bushy beard, and brood over a bottle of whiskey.

Interested? The late Hollywood icon's 3000-square-foot home is available to rent for about $755 a night through HomeAway. The house, which sits on its own private 15,000-square-foot knoll, was home to Welles at the very beginning of his career and is where he wrote the screenplay for 1941's Citizen Kane. Bring along your typewriter and try to channel some of his greatness.

Quite a few other celebrities have inhabited the house as well, including Rita Hayworth, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, and David Bowie. Features of the grand four-bedroom mansion—built in 1928—include a lagoon pool, Jacuzzi, deck, and both canyon and city views.

There's never been a better time to rent Welles's abode: his final film, The Other Side of the Wind, is set to premiere at this month's Venice Film Festival before arriving on Netflix. The unfinished flick, which was shot intermittently between 1970 and 1976, has been completed and restored for its much-anticipated release. (Of course the mansion has plenty of TVs for your viewing pleasure.)

The property has a three- to five-night stay minimum, depending on the season. For more pictures, see below or head to HomeAway. And since you're already in vacation-planning mode, another creative celebrity abode to consider is F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald's Montgomery, Alabama home, which is available to rent via Airbnb.

Orson Welles' house
Courtesy of HomeAway

Orson Welles mansion
Courtesy of HomeAway

Orson Welles' former home
Courtesy of HomeAway

Orson Welles' former home
Courtesy of HomeAway

Orson Welles' former home
Courtesy of HomeAway

10 Things You Might Not Know About Robert De Niro

RALPH GATTI, AFP/Getty Images
RALPH GATTI, AFP/Getty Images

Robert De Niro is part of the pantheon of independent-minded filmmakers who cut through Hollywood noise in the 1970s with edgier fare to create what became known as “The New Hollywood.” Following stints with Brian De Palma and Roger Corman, De Niro teamed up with Martin Scorsese for the first time with 1973's Mean Streets, which launched a fruitful artistic collaboration that has produced some of the best movies of the past half-century.

Even after his shift into commercial comedies like Meet the Parents, “dedication” has remained De Niro’s watchword. The two-time Oscar winner has earned Hollywood legend status with panache and bone-deep portrayals. Here are 10 facts about the filmmaker on his 75th birthday. (Yes, we’re talkin’ to you.)

1. HIS FIRST ROLE WAS IN A STAGING OF THE WIZARD OF OZ—AT AGE 10.

Robert De Niro got bit by the acting bug early. He threatened to thrash a hippopotamus from top to bottom-us as the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz at the tender age of 10. (This is the remake and casting the world needs right now.)

2. HE DROPPED OUT OF HIGH SCHOOL TO PURSUE ACTING.

Robert De Niro arrives at the UK premiere of epic war drama film 'The Deer Hunter', UK, 28th February 1979
John Minihan, Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

De Niro’s mother, Virginia Admiral, was a painter whose work was part of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, and his father, Robert De Niro, Sr., was a celebrated abstract expressionist painter. So the apple falling into drama school instead of the art studio still isn’t that far from the tree. Having already gotten a youthful dose of stage life, De Niro quit his private high school to try to become an actor. He first went to the nonprofit HB Studio before studying under Stella Adler and, later, The Actors Studio.

3. HE’S A DUAL CITIZEN OF THE UNITED STATES AND ITALY.

De Niro is American, Italian-American, and, as of 2004, Italian. The country bestowed honorary citizenship upon De Niro as an honor in recognition of his career, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing to the passport office. A group called the Order of the Sons of Italy in America strongly protested the Italian government’s plan due to De Niro’s frequent portrayal of negative Italian-American stereotypes.

4. HE GAINED 60 POUNDS FOR RAGING BULL.

Preparing to play the misfortune-laden boxing champ Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull required two major things from De Niro: training and gaining. For the latter, De Niro ate his way through Europe during a four-month binge of ice cream and pasta. His 60-pound-gain was dramatic enough that it concerned Martin Scorsese. It was one way to show dedication to a role, but the training element was even more impressive. De Niro got so good at boxing that when LaMotta set up several professional-level sparring bouts for the actor, De Niro won two of them.

5. HE AND MARLON BRANDO ARE THE ONLY ACTORS TO WIN OSCARS FOR PLAYING THE SAME CHARACTER.

De Niro won his first Oscar in 1975 for The Godfather: Part II, for portraying the younger version of Vito Corleone—the wizened capo played by Marlon Brando, who also won an Oscar for the role (Brando’s came in 1973, for The Godfather). No other pair of actors has managed the feat, although Jeff Bridges came close in 2010 when he was nominated for playing Rooster Cogburn in Joel and Ethan Coen's True Grit (a role originated by John Wayne in Henry Hathaway’s 1969 movie of the same name). Oddly enough, Bridges was in contention for the role of Travis Bickle, the role that earned De Niro his first Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role.

6. HE DROVE A CAB TO PREPARE FOR TAXI DRIVER.

If you’re looking for commitment to a role, ask Hack #265216. De Niro got a taxicab driver’s license to study up to play Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver and spent several weekends cruising around New York City picking up fares. It’s possible that having his teeth filed down for Cape Fear is the most intense transformation he’s undergone for a role, but picking up a part-time job to live the lonely life of Bickle is more humane.

7. ONE OF HIS FILMS POSTPONED ONE OF HIS OSCAR WINS.

The 53rd Academy Awards—where De Niro won for playing Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull—were originally scheduled for March 30, 1981 but were postponed until the following day because of an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan. The would-be assassin, John Hinckley, Jr., claimed the attack was intended to impress Jodie Foster, who Hinckley grew obsessed with after watching Taxi Driver.

8. HE LAUNCHED THE TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL IN THE WAKE OF 9/11.

Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal speak onstage at the 'Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives' Premiere during the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival at Radio City Music Hall on April 19, 2017 in New York City
Theo Wargo, Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

Producer Jane Rosenthal, philanthropist Craig M. Hatkoff, and De Niro founded the Tribeca Film Festival in 2001 as a showcase for independent films that would hopefully “spur the economic and cultural revitalization of lower Manhattan” after the devastation of the 9/11 terror attacks. With its empire state of mind, the inaugural festival in 2002 featured a “Best of New York Series” handpicked by Martin Scorsese and drew an astonishing 150,000 attendees.

9. HE WAS ONCE INTERROGATED BY FRENCH POLICE CONCERNING A PROSTITUTION RING.

One of the most bizarre chapters in De Niro’s life came when he was publicly named in the investigation of a prostitution ring in Paris. The 1998 incident included a lengthy interrogation session (De Niro filed an official complaint) and a pile of paparazzi waiting for him when he left the prosecutor’s office. De Niro railed against the entire country, vowing to return his Legion of Honour and telling Le Monde newspaper that, "I will never return to France. I will advise my friends against going to France.” (He had cooled off enough by 2011 to act as the Cannes Film Festival’s jury president.)

10. HE LOVED THE CAT(S) IN MEET THE PARENTS.

Meet the Parents’s Mr. Jinx (Jinxy!) was played by two Himalayans named Bailey and Misha, and De Niro fell in love with them. He played with them between scenes, kept kibble in his pocket for them, and asked director Jay Roach to have Mr. Jinx in as many scenes as possible.

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