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."

10 Facts About DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story For Its 15th Anniversary

Vince Vaughn stars in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004).
Vince Vaughn stars in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004).
Twentieth Century Fox

June 18, 2004 saw the release of two wildly different films in American cinemas: Steven Spielberg’s The Terminal and a goofy, cameo-filled, wrench-chucking sports comedy called DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story. Guess which one came out on top at the box office? The sleeper hit both saluted and skewered the sports movie genre. It also gave Chuck Norris the chance to enjoy a free helicopter ride.

1. Dodgeball's creator was inspired by the book Fast Food Nation.

DodgeBall writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber considered DodgeBall an homage to some of his favorite flicks, including Revenge of the Nerds (1984), Rocky (1976), and Bull Durham (1988). Another source of inspiration was Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation, the nonfiction bestseller about the modern obsession with greasy, ready-made cuisine. Published in 2001, Fast Food Nation sold more than 1.4 million copies within five years. It also left plenty of fingerprints on Thurber’s script.

"I really took a cue from that—there's an absolute love/fear relationship thing in our culture," Thurber told Film Freak Central in 2014. "We're so weight conscious, so image conscious, so youth-oriented—and wrapped up with all that psychosis are these ad images of it being so cool and all-American and sexy to eat McDonald's and drink pop and all that. It pulls people in all sorts of different directions, so I wanted [Ben Stiller’s character] White Goodman to be sitting there with a doughnut and the car battery attached to his nipples … That situation with food, with sports, with so much of our culture. [It’s] already almost too surreal to satirize."

2. The movie's actors went through some rigorous training.

To ready themselves for the movie, Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, and the rest of the actors ran indoor dodgeball drills at what many of them have since described as a “boot camp.” According to Stiller, this basically consisted of “us at a gym a few times a week playing dodgeball.” While that may not sound too intense, the physicality of these sessions took its toll on the performers. “It’s a game for the young,” Stiller said. “It’s one thing when you’re eight, but when you’re 38, it gets really exhausting. After three or four minutes, you’re fried.” Practicing at his side was Stiller’s wife, Christine Taylor, who plays Kate Veatch of the Average Joe’s squad in DodgeBall.

3. Ben Stiller took Christine Taylor down with a dodgeball ... twice.

As a general rule, it’s never a good idea to hit one’s spouse in the face with a rubber ball while playing any sport, but that’s exactly what Stiller did to Christine Taylor—twice. Blow number one came during the boot camp; the second strike occurred while filming the epic Globo Gym/Average Joe’s showdown. The latter ball was intended to strike Vaughn, who reflexively flinched to get out of the way. In any event, Stiller admits that those two incidents put a temporary damper on the couple’s marital harmony “for like a week, because there’s no way to not get upset with somebody after you’ve done that. It just sent us both back to eighth grade." (Though the couple announced that they were divorcing in 2017, the split has never been made official, and the couple is still regularly seen together—sparking rumors of a reconciliation.)

4. Stiller borrowed much of his character's personality from 1995's Heavyweights.

The fact that Stiller borrowed some of White Goodman’s traits from Tony Perkis, the fanatical fat camp owner he played in 1995’s Heavyweights, won’t surprise anyone who has seen both films. DodgeBall’s White Goodman (as played by Stiller) is a bombastic, egomaniacal fitness guru with some inherited wealth and major insecurities. The same description also applies to Perkis. A lighthearted family comedy, Heavyweights didn’t fare well at the box office, grossing a meager $17.6 million. As such, when Stiller copied a few of Perkis’s mannerisms in DodgeBall, he figured that no one would notice.

"I always thought, ‘Well, nobody ever saw Heavyweights, so I can do this,” Stiller recalled. “But a lot of people saw Heavyweights … Apparently, it shows on the Disney Channel a lot or something.” Regarding the two characters, Stiller has said that Perkis is “definitely a first or second cousin” to Goodman.

5. Justin Long suffered a minor concussion on the set.

Justin Long, who plays Justin in the film, took some hard knocks while making this movie. For starters, a prop wrench made with hard rubber left a nasty cut on his eyebrow when Rip Torn, as Patches O’Houlihan, threw it at his face in one scene. Then, while filming another section of DodgeBall’s training montage, the actor was pelted with enough high-speed balls to render him "slightly concussed."

"They didn’t want me to drive home at the end of the day because I was a little off," Long told Today in 2017. “So next time you’re watching that and laughing, know that you’re laughing at my pain.” Still, the experience wasn’t all bad. According to New York Magazine, Long can often be seen riding a scooter adorned with the words “Average Joe’s,” a gift from Stiller.

6. Hank Azaria and Rip Torn didn't even try to synchronize their Patches O'Houlihan voices.

Early in the film, we get to watch an instructional video about dodgeball (and social Darwinism) hosted by a young Patches O’Houlihan, who is played by Hank Azaria. For the remainder of the film, however, it’s Rip Torn who portrays the seven-time ADAA all-star. You may have noticed that the two actors use very different accents in their respective scenes: Azaria, who joined the cast at Stiller’s invitation, called his performance “essentially a bad Clark Gable impression.” At the time, Torn’s sequences hadn’t been shot yet, leading someone in the crew to pipe up and say “You know, it’d be funny if Rip tries to emulate that voice!” “I was like, ‘Yeah, good luck walking up to Rip Torn and suggesting that he change his vocal quality in any way. Let me know how that goes for you,’” Azaria replied.

7. The Average Joe's team colors are an homage to Hoosiers.

Thurber, a fan of David Anspaugh’s Oscar-nominated Hoosiers (1986), tipped his hat to the Hickory Huskers’ red and yellow uniforms by giving the Average Joe’s squad—led by Vince Vaughn’s Pete LaFleur—an almost identical color scheme. 

8. Chuck Norris was reluctant to make a cameo.

The action star’s only scene was shot in Long Beach, California. Geographically speaking, this was problematic for Norris. “I was in L.A. when they asked me to do the cameo,” Norris told Empire Magazine. “I said no at first because it was a three-hour drive to Long Beach.” Hearing this, Stiller called Norris and begged him to reconsider. “He goes, ‘Chuck, please, you’ve got to do this for me!’” Norris recalled, “My wife said he should send a helicopter for me and that's what happened. I didn't read the screenplay, just did my bit where I stick my thumb up.”

After post-production on DodgeBall wrapped and Norris got around to seeing the finished product, he found himself enjoying most of it. However, there was one little moment in the final credits that really caught him off-guard. “In the end, when Ben’s a big fatty and watching TV, the last line of the whole movie is, 'F***ing Chuck Norris!' My mouth fell open ... I said, 'Holy mackerel!' That was a shock, Ben didn't tell me about that!"

9. One villain was originally supposed to be a robot.

By far the most mysterious player in the Purple Cobras lineup is Fran Stalinovskovichdavidovitchsky, an Eastern European all-star whom Goodman calls “The deadliest woman on earth with a dodgeball.” What’s the secret to her success? Well, in an early version of the screenplay, it’s revealed that Fran is actually a robot in disguise. Thurber ended up dropping the gag, which he considered too ridiculous—even by DodgeBall’s standards. However, when Missi Pyle was cast as Fran, the big twist hadn’t yet been cut.

“Initially, in the first script I read, she was a robot, like a sexy-bodied robot” Pyle explained. The original plan was to slowly pan the camera up over a partly-exposed Robo-Fran—with her metallic face and fake breasts on full display—at some point in the climax.

10. Alan Tudyk weighed in on a fan theory about Steve the Pirate.

In 2012, Redditor Maized made the case Steve the Pirate, Alan Tudyk’s swashbuckling oddball, is actually an “ex-Navy sailor who suffers from PTSD.” As evidence, Maized cited Steve’s tattoos, which bear a striking resemblance to those frequently worn by U.S. Naval recruits. In theory, the Average Joe’s patron uses his pirate persona to cope with his condition.

During a 2016 interview with Screen Crush, Tudyk was asked to offer his thoughts on the theory. With a chuckle, Tudyk replied that it “doesn’t seem like it’s impossible.” Emphasizing that he didn’t wish to “insult Navy sailors who have PTSD,” the actor said he’d consider taking the Redditor’s idea into account if a DodgeBall sequel is ever made.

Game of Thrones Director Said He Wanted to 'Kill Everyone' During the Battle of Winterfell

Iain Glen and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones.
Iain Glen and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones.
Helen Sloan, HBO

Now that Game of Thrones is over, it’s time to talk about the nitty-gritty of the episodes, particularly “The Long Night.” While the Battle of Winterfell may have been nerve-wracking to watch, there ended up being surprisingly fewer deaths than fans expected, considering the living were fighting the entire army of the dead.

Miguel Sapochnik, who directed the episode, was no beginner with battle scenes before taking on “The Long Night,” as he was also responsible season 6's iconic “The Battle of the Bastards” as well as the memorable season 5 episode “Hardhome.” While his list of Game of Thrones accomplishments is long, it turns out that Sapochnik's choices haven't always been in line with what showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss want.

According to IndieWire, Sapochnik’s aesthetic choices, such as the decision to shoot shoot Cersei and Tommen shadowed by prison-like bars to represent Tommen’s imprisonment in season 5, were not favored by the showrunners. “[Benioff and Weiss] said [it was] ‘so self-conscious and we hate it basically,'” Sapochnik revealed at the time. Because of disagreements like this, the pair “visually policed” the director.

There was a difference of opinion between the director and the creators again for “The Long Night,” Sapochnik revealed on IndieWire's Filmmaker's Toolkit podcast. “I wanted to kill everyone,” the director said, as reported by Esquire. “I wanted to kill Jorah in the horse charge at the beginning. I wanted it to be ruthless, so in the first 10 minutes you could say all bets are off, anyone could die. But David and Dan didn’t want to. There was a lot of back-and-forth on that."

Ultimately, Sapochnik gave in to Benioff and Weiss’s plan for the episode, and the Battle of Winterfell had far fewer casualties than most of the series's other battle scenes.

[h/t Esquire]

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