He’s Dolph Lundgren — and you’re not.
That explains almost everything in life that needs explaining. For starters: Why did the 6-foot-5, ice-blond muscle man from Sweden have a slightly different experience on New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas ringing in 2018 than you did?
“The thing is I’m so tall and so blond that it’s hard for me to hide,” Lundgren said. “I can be in Vegas on New Year’s Eve at Drai’s nightclub, like I was a few weeks ago, or in Bali on the beach. Or I could be in some remote village on the far side of the world, and people who don’t even speak English will come up in a pair of swim trunks and yell, ‘Drago! Drago!’ ”
That’s what happens when you kill Apollo Creed as Ivan Drago in “Rocky IV” — a role he’s about to resume (scoop alert!) in “Creed II.” Lundgren also rules the ocean in the upcoming “Aquaman,” and he’s got a best-selling book, “How to Train Like an Action Hero.”
RJ: What’s a typical Sunday like?
DL: A great Sunday starts with sleeping in. It gets better if I don’t have to look good for anything. I won’t even fix my hair. I’ll make it my cheat day and eat anything I want. I’ll stay in bed, watch movies and really rest my body. I’ll finish the day hanging out with my girlfriend and then go to bed early.
How do we train like an action star?
Right now I’m getting ready for a movie, so I’m training more than usual. Twice a day I work out now, which means 10 times a week.
Getting back on track is a combination of pushing yourself and sometimes taking a day off. You want to train like an action star? Turn off the TV, cancel things and just get some sleep or take some quiet time. And then push yourself again in the gym.
What do you eat to so look lean?
I’m trying this new diet now where I eat three or four meals a day, either precooked or I cook breakfast and then eat precooked. I take Saturday or Sunday evening and use it to eat anything I want, which actually spikes your metabolism.
So, extra-large pizza with all the trimmings?
Nah, my cheat might be pancakes with a lot of syrup, bacon and eggs because I add a little healthy protein. Or I’ll do a burger or a milkshake. For me, cheating might be eating lots of pasta, bread or cheese. I don’t eat much fatty stuff or sugar, but I use it to cheat. It’s good to keep some balance and enjoy life as well.
What are some favorite Las Vegas memories?
We shot “Rocky IV” in Vegas. At the old MGM Grand, I did the fight against Apollo Creed. That was back in the days when Vegas was just the gamblers, dancing girls and high rollers. It was the ’80s. I went to Vegas for New Year’s Eve. It was fun to go to Drai’s. It was just tough for me to move around. My favorite times in Vegas are at Lake Mead or going down to the Grand Canyon or Hoover Dam. Nevada is a beautiful place.
So you killed Apollo Creed in “Rocky IV” in Vegas. Ever feel bad about it?
Well, a little bit because I like Carl Weathers who played Apollo Creed. He still seems slightly upset about it.
And now you’re in “Creed II.” Can you spill a few set secrets?
That was something Stallone suggested to me about a year ago. I wasn’t sure, since it’s been about 30 years. I wanted Ivan Drago to live in the past, but it turned out that the script for “Creed II” was really good. All I can tell you is Ivan is back. The Russians come back over for a challenge.
You’re playing King Nereus in the new “Aquaman.” Is it good to be king?
It is good to be king. Basically, I try to keep the peace down there along with Amber Heard, who plays my daughter. She’s trying to convince me to join the right side. Then you have Nicole Kidman as Aquaman’s mother. We’re trying to avoid war between the surface dwells and the people of Atlantis.
You’re in Imagine Dragons’ “Believer” video. How did you join forces with one of Vegas’ favorite bands?
They contacted me with an idea for a video that had to do with boxing. Dan Reynolds trains a lot, and he looks similar to me in some ways, so he had this idea that we should both be in that video. I thought it was a really cool thing, plus I love the band.
Few people know that you have a master’s degree in chemical engineering and were offered a Fulbright scholarship to MIT.
It’s kind of an unusual background for an action star. I guess I haven’t really used that background in any movie. Yet. I use that education to help my two daughters study and explain things to them.
When did you come to America?
I came to America at 18 to study on a scholarship. I was 23 or 24, and at MIT, when I started thinking about acting. I had acted in high school in Sweden and did some modeling in New York just to make some money and get a visa. Somebody suggested I try acting because I was also a karate champion. It wasn’t long before I was in L.A. doing the “Rocky” movie.
How did you get cast as Drago in “Rocky IV?”
Stallone considered 5,000 guys for the roles. He narrowed it down to 100 guys, who were invited to a casting call in New York City. I ended up being turned down for being too tall. But I wasn’t done. I sent some pictures of myself to Stallone. He must have gotten them because a few months later, they got ahold of me when I was in Europe. I met Stallone, auditioned and got the role. It shows that you can never give up.