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."

Jim Henson's Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas Is Returning to Theaters

The Jim Henson Company via Fathom Events
The Jim Henson Company via Fathom Events

For anyone who grew up with HBO in the 1980s, the holiday season meant two things: Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas and The Bells of Fraggle Rock. Though the beloved Jim Henson classics have been largely confined to home video-only screenings over the years, they’re making their way back to the big screen for the first time via Fathom Events when the Jim Henson Holiday Special arrives in theaters nationwide for a limited, two-day engagement.

More than 600 theaters across the country will host screenings of the Jim Henson Holiday Special on Monday, December 10 (4 p.m. and 7 p.m.) and Sunday, December 16 (1 p.m. and 4 p.m.), which will pair the two specials—both of which have recently been remastered—alongside an all-new featurette, Memories of the Jug-Band.

"Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas was a favorite project for my dad since it included such sweet characters, Paul Williams’s delightful music, and a timeless holiday message,” Cheryl Henson—Jim Henson’s daughter and president of the Jim Henson Foundation—said in a statement about the special, which is a music-filled twist on The Gift of the Magi.

“Also, the special was a great opportunity for him to experiment with puppetry techniques and effects that would be seen in his later works," Henson continued. "[It] is exciting for families to share this holiday classic along with the special episode The Bells of Fraggle Rock, a rare opportunity to see the Fraggles on the big screen, and to introduce these beloved characters to a whole new audience."

On December 18, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas on Blu-ray for the first time ever so that you can make the special a permanent part of your regular holiday movie marathon. This news comes on the heels of Emmet Otter's first-ever official soundtrack release, more than 40 years after its original premiere.

Click here to find out the Jim Henson Holiday Special is playing near you, and to pre-order your tickets today.

10 Filling Facts About A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Warner Home Video
Warner Home Video

Though it may not be as widely known as It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown or A Charlie Brown Christmas, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving has been a beloved holiday tradition for many families for 45 years now. Even if you've seen it 100 times, there’s still probably a lot you don’t know about this Turkey Day special.

1. IT’S THE FIRST PEANUTS SPECIAL TO FEATURE AN ADULT VOICE.

We all know the trombone “wah wah wah” sound that Charlie Brown’s teacher makes when speaking in a Peanuts special. But A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, which was released in 1973, made history as the first Peanuts special to feature a real, live, human adult voice. But it’s not a speaking voice—it’s heard in the song “Little Birdie.”

2. IT WASN’T JUST ANY ADULT WHO LENT HIS VOICE TO THE SPECIAL.

Being the first adult to lend his or her voice to a Peanuts special was kind of a big deal, so it makes sense that the honor wasn’t bestowed on just any old singer or voice actor. The song was performed by composer Vince Guaraldi, whose memorable compositions have become synonymous with Charlie Brown and the rest of the gang.

“Guaraldi was one of the main reasons our shows got off to such a great start,” Lee Mendelson, the Emmy-winning producer who worked on many of the Peanuts specials—including A Charlie Brown Thanksgivingwrote for The Huffington Post in 2013. “His ‘Linus and Lucy,’ introduced in A Charlie Brown Christmas, set the bar for the first 16 shows for which he created all the music. For our Thanksgiving show, he told me he wanted to sing a new song he had written for Woodstock. I agreed with much trepidation as I had never heard him sing a note. His singing of ‘Little Birdie’ became a hit."

3. DESPITE THE VOICE, THERE ARE NO ADULTS FEATURED IN THE SPECIAL.

While Peanuts specials are largely populated by children, there’s usually at least an adult or two seen or heard somewhere. That’s not the case with A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. “Charlie Brown Thanksgiving may be the only Thanksgiving special (live or animated) that does not include adults,” Mendelson wrote for HuffPo. “Our first 25 specials honored the convention of the comic strip where no adults ever appeared. (Ironically, our Mayflower special does include adults for the first time.)”

4. LUCY IS MOSTLY M.I.A., TOO.

Though early on in the special, viewers get that staple scene of Lucy pulling a football away from Charlie Brown at the last minute, that’s all we see of Chuck’s quasi-nemesis in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. (Lucy's brother Linus, however, is a main character.)

5. CHARLIE BROWN AND LUCY STILL KEEP IN TOUCH.

Though they only had a single scene together, Todd Barbee, who voiced Charlie Brown, told Noblemania that he and Robin Kohn, who voiced Lucy in the Thanksgiving special, still keep in touch. “We actually went to high school together,” Barbee said. “We still live in Marin County, are Facebook friends, and occasionally see each other.”

6. CHARLIE BROWN HAD SOME TROUBLE WITH HIS SIGNATURE “AAARRRGGH.”

One unique aspect of the Peanuts specials is that the bulk of the characters are voiced by real kids. In the case of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, 10-year-old newcomer Todd Barbee was tasked with giving a voice to Charlie Brown—and it wasn’t always easy.

“One time they wanted me to voice that ‘AAAAAAARRRRRGGGGG’ when Charlie Brown goes to kick the football and Lucy yanks it away,” Barbee recalled to Noblemania in 2014. “Try as I might, I just couldn’t generate [it as] long [as] they were looking for … so after something like 25 takes, we moved on. I was sweating the whole time. I think they eventually got an adult or a kid with an older voice to do that one take."

7. LINUS STILL GETS AN ENTHUSIASTIC RESPONSE.

While Barbee got a crash course in the downside of celebrity at a very early age—“seeing my name printed in TV Guide made everyone around me go bananas … everybody … just thought I was some big movie star or something,” he told Noblemania—Stephen Shea, who voiced Linus, still gets a pretty big reaction.

"I don't walk around saying 'I'm the voice of Linus,'" Shea told the Los Angeles Times in 2013. "But when people find out one way or another, they scream 'I love Linus. That is my favorite character!'"

8. THANKS TO LINUS, THE THANKSGIVING SPECIAL GOT A SPINOFF.

As is often the case in a Peanuts special, Linus gets to play the role of philosopher in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and remind his friends (and the viewers) about the history and true meaning of the holiday. His speech about the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving eventually led to This is America, Charlie Brown: The Mayflower Voyagers, a kind of spinoff adapted from that Thanksgiving Day prayer, which sees the Peanuts gang becoming a part of history.

9. LEE MENDELSON HAD AN ISSUE WITH BIRD CANNIBALISM.

In writing for HuffPo for A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving’s 40th anniversary, Mendelson admitted that one particular scene in the special led to “a rare, minor dispute during the creation of the show. Mr. Schulz insisted that Woodstock join Snoopy in carving and eating a turkey. For some reason I was bothered that Woodstock would eat a turkey. I voiced my concern, which was immediately overruled.”

10. MENDELSON EVENTUALLY GOT HIS WAY ... THOUGH NOT FOR LONG.

Though Mendelson lost his original argument against seeing Woodstock eating another bird, he was eventually able to right that wrong. “Years later, when CBS cut the show from its original 25 minutes to 22 minutes, I sneakily edited out the scene of Woodstock eating,” he wrote. “But when we moved to ABC in 2001, the network (happily) elected to restore all the holiday shows to the original 25 minutes, so I finally have given up.”

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