Hard to believe it’s been nearly 30 years since Dolph Lundgren burst onto the scene as Rocky IV baddie Ivan Drago. Since then he’s gone on to a steady career in action movies, mostly the B-level, direct-to-DVD variety but with occasional forays into A-list territory. He recently re-teamed with Sylvester Stallone for the all-star Expendables flicks, and has also made a point to take on more offbeat roles in unexpected projects like the quirky comedy Small Apartments.
It’s all part of an effort to hold the interest of the Swedish native, who in addition to being able to kick your butt could most likely beat you at Jeopardy! Lundgren earned a master’s degree in chemical engineering and was awarded the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship to MIT before Hollywood came calling. His new gig is something entirely different for him, host of ReelzChannel‘s Race to the Scene (June 6 at , a competition reality show where contestants must race to and from iconic movie locations and perform stunts inspired by some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters.
Lundgren took some time from the set of his upcoming action pic A Certain Justice to answer our “7 Questions.”
1. You’re at a magazine rack and can only pick three titles. Which do you choose?
A car magazine, The Economist, and maybe a travel magazine just to see some cool islands I can go to.
2. Your DVR can only carry three shows. Which ones would you want?
Historical stuff would be my first, something like World War II in Color. I like PBS, where there’s not a lot of advertising, because it’s annoying. And then I like late night talk shows, Jimmy Fallon. You know, just to have a laugh.
3. What has been your strangest fan encounter?
I had one, this was way back, where I started getting letters from this guy on death row. The funny thing was that it was addressed to Dolph Lundgren, and the sender was D. Lundgren, from this Pelican Bay maximum security facility. It turned out some guy had changed his name to Dolph Lundgren. He was just going on and on, rambling on about Christ and this and that, and the Lord. Those were kind of weird.
4. Tell me about a time when you were starstruck.
There’s been a few. Sean Connery, when I met him in London. But I think the first time was probably when I met Sly Stallone. I had sent some photos of me in boxing gear to somebody I knew who said they knew somebody who knew Sly Stallone. This was when I first started acting. I was in Europe and they flew me to L.A. and I remember taking a cab from LAX and I drove to the distinguished Paramount studios and in the background is the Hollywood sign when you come up on Highland. Then I went in and I was waiting outside this office and here he comes, walks in with his long hair — this was when he was doing [Rambo: First Blood Part II] — very tan and buff. I just thought, “Wow, here I am, I’m just this Swedish kid.” It was really nice to meet him. I was pretty starstruck that day.
5. Name three things you must have in your fridge or pantry.
Almond milk, so I can make my oatmeal. So, yeah, oatmeal. That’s very important. Then I need some sliced bananas to go in the oatmeal in the morning. That’s three, right?
6. How would you describe your duties on Race to the Scene? It’s definitely different than how people are used to seeing you.
It’s like a mix of a newscaster, a talks show host and a game show host. It was actually pretty good on a personal level to handle that kind of dense delivering of instructions and dialogue and ad-libbing with the contestants. It’s different than film acting, and I kind of liked it, actually. I hope on some level it brought out more of my personality as opposed to playing these monosyllabic killers in the movies where you just say, “Let’s go!,” “Head for the chopper!,” “I got one!,” you know, that kind of thing. Or “Get down!” Those types of lines that I’ve done a lot in the past. “I must break you.” This is a little more playful and kind of loose.
7. A lot of stories about you like to mention your background in engineering. Is that a field you keep up with at all, following the latest science?
Not really. There’s an interest underneath. I give a scholarship every year in Sweden to my old high school to the best student. I like to read books about science. I read a really good one not too long ago about the making of the atomic bomb, which was quite detailed about how they came up with the idea. … I have some interest in it, and I should probably spend more time thinking about it. (laughs) I don’t have enough time. Funny you should mention it, though, because I’ve been talking to National Geographic. They have an interest in doing some kind of engineering series on television where you show people new technologies that will help us in the future. They want me to host something like that, which could be fun.
Photo: © Zak Cassar Photography