It’s been almost 30 years since Dolph Lundgren’s Ivan Drago uttered his famous “I must break you” line in “Rocky IV.” Since then, the Swedish-born actor has become a household name for action flicks, eagerly stomping anything (or anyone) that gets in his way on screen.
In “Expendables 2,” Lundgren is back at it again, this time as Gunnar Jensen, a member of the elite mercenary squad known as the Expendables. Here, Dolph — along with Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Statham and Bruce Willis — heads to Bulgaria to stop Jean Vilain (Jean Claude Van Damme) from selling plutonium. Along the way, bridges blow up, planes crash, extras explode and egos puncture, as the aging action heroes once again attempt to save the world.
Moviefone recently sat down with Lundgren to talk about today’s action movies, what direction Ivan Drago’s life went in after “Rocky IV,” how you determine who the alpha male is on a set that includes Ah-nuld, Sly and Bruce, and his pick to play the new He-Man.
This movie has Willis, Stallone and Schwarzenegger. So who’s the undisputed alpha male on set?
Stallone. He’s producing, he wrote it. He was one of the most experienced guys there.
Who would you say is the best pound-for-pound fighter amongst the cast?
Randy [Couture]’s a good fighter. Jet [Li]s so light he may have the edge. I’m fairly decent, I guess. I think Jet. Pound for pound, he’d be up there.
How did a young actor like Liam Hemsworth end up fitting into a movie full of veteran action heroes?
When I met him, I didn’t know who he was; “Hunger Games” wasn’t out yet. He hadn’t started going out with Hannah Montana yet [either], who’s my daughter’s favorite. I think he’s perfect for the role of a young sniper. He’s a nice guy. I’m sure it must have been a bit daunting for him walking onto the set up in the Bulgarian mountains, because there’s Stallone, Van Damme, Statham, Lundgren, leaning up against a tree looking at him, and he walks up, [and we’re all thinking] “Who is this kid?” He was a little nervous but he pulled it off well.
You’ve got a Master’s Degree in chemical engineering, as does your “Expendables” character Gunnar. Which of your castmates came closest to matching wits with you?
Well, maybe Arnold. He went to business school, didn’t he? He’s certainly a better businessman than me — and a whole lot smarter. He’s [also] a better engineer than me.
At one point in this movie, you and the team are discussing what you’d eat for your last meal, with yours being “baby seal and whale butt.” What would your last meal really be?
Not what I said in the film! I’d go for a good old Texas steak with a baked potato. Oh man, I’d love one right now. Ice cold beer and apple pie with ice cream [too].
Oh, you’d sleep well on that meal.
You played He-Man in 1987’s “Masters of the Universe.” Now, a He-Man movie is in the works. Do you think there is anyone out there who could take on the role?
There’s that Chris Hemsworth guy. He’s got a good body. You need a natural body because there’s no shirt. Unless you put a plastic suit on him, like Batman, and you could stick anybody in there.
So Thor has your blessing as the next He-Man?
Thor has my blessing.
Would you want to be involved in the movie at all?
Why not? I’m not dreaming about doing it every night but if there’s a role like Skeletor’s shrink or something I could play… [Laughs] Where’d I get that from?
What kind of new challenges have you experienced making action movies today as opposed to when you started?
One challenge is you get older, so everything hurts more. In ‘Expendables,” you still gotta do a lot of fighting and running around, so you’ve got to be more careful because your body doesn’t heal as much. And it’s a harder atmosphere financially and marketingwise — [movies] have got one weekend to make it and it’s such a push. There’s just so much competition and there’s so many of these action movies that are CGI-driven and all kinds of non-action types in them that we have to gang up now — all the old guys — and beat them up [smiles]. Otherwise, films are the same. You learn your lines and you try to do them in character and you work out and try to look good.
At this point in your career, what kind of roles would you like to see come your way?
I like two things: I like playing colorful bad guys, fun roles like that — Chris Walken-kind of guys. And I’ve always liked the classic male leads, like the Steve McQueens and Charlie Bronsons and the kind Clint [Eastwood] used to do. There’s not that many roles like that out there, and I think when you get to a certain age, it’s easier to play those roles. [But] I feel more comfortable now, more secure [to do them].
What direction do you think Ivan Drago’s life headed in after his loss to Rocky?
Not good. I’d say a lot of vodka, [and he’s in] a small town somewhere in Siberia. Maybe he’s a mob enforcer, like a collector for the mob. That’s after the work camps.
You’d have to pay up to him, wouldn’t you?
Yeah, you’d have to, if you want your fingers and toes intact. [Laughs]