CS Interview: Dolph Lundgren on Creed II, Advice For Next He-Man
MGM and Warner Bros. Pictures‘ boxing sequel Creed II features more than the return of Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone. It also features Dolph Lundgren reprising his role as Rocky’s formidable Russian adversary Ivan Drago from 1985’s Rocky IV, and ComingSoon.net had the chance to talk 1:1 with the Swedish legend about his big comeback year in this and December’s Aquaman, what Creed III might hold for Drago, as well as his personal advice to the next actor to play He-Man in the upcoming Masters of the Universe reboot! Check out the interview below!
Creed II is the continuation of the Rocky saga and sequel to the 2015 critically-acclaimed and crowd-pleasing 2015 hit Creed, which took in more than $170 million at the worldwide box office. Ryan Coogler (Black Panther), who directed the first film, returns to the franchise as an executive producer on Creed II. The new film is being directed by Steven Caple Jr., who helmed the acclaimed 2016 drama The Land.
Life has become a balancing act for Adonis Creed. Between personal obligations and training for his next big fight, he is up against the challenge of his life. Facing an opponent with ties to his family’s past only intensifies his impending battle in the ring. Rocky Balboa is there by his side through it all and, together, Rocky and Adonis will confront their shared legacy, question what’s worth fighting for, and discover that nothing’s more important than family. Creed II is about going back to basics to rediscover what made you a champion in the first place, and remembering that, no matter where you go, you can’t escape your history.
Also reprising their roles from the first film are Tessa Thompson as Bianca, Phylicia Rashad as Mary Anne, Wood Harris as Tony ‘Little Duke’ Burton, and Andre Ward as Danny ‘Stuntman’ Wheeler. The new cast is rounded out with Florian “The Big Nasty” Munteanu as Viktor Drago, Dolph Lundgren returning to the role of Ivan Drago and Russell Hornsby as Buddy Marcelle. Creed II will be distributed theatrically in the U.S. by MGM on November 21, 2018, and Warner Bros. Pictures will distribute the film internationally.
Caple Jr. directs from an original screenplay written by Stallone based on characters from the Rocky franchise. The film is produced by Irwin Winkler, Charles Winkler, William Chartoff, David Winkler, Kevin King-Templeton, and Stallone. Coogler, Jordan and Guy Riedel will executive produce.
ComingSoon.net: It’s very exciting not just to talk to you, but to talk to you when we’re in the middle of a full-blown Lundgrenaissance.
Dolph Lundgren: (laughs) Thank you very much.
CS: What’s it like being a part of two huge tentpoles with “Creed II” and “Aquaman” both coming out this fall?
Lundgren: Right. It’s kind of surreal a little bit, you know? I mean, I was in some big movies and I had like, a long period where I wasn’t on the big screen at all, and then I did “The Expendables” movies. They were nice, but this is more the kind of stuff I would feel more proud of as an actor, because I work with good directors and they’re interesting characters for me to play. So it feels really great, yeah.
CS: In “Rocky IV” Drago had the entire country of Russia at his disposal and all of this high tech equipment. 30-years later you’re in exile and the training with your son is very down and dirty, much the way Rocky’s was when he trained to fight you. Can you talk about Team Drago being the underdog this time and having just as much, if not more at stake than Creed does?
Lundgren: I think I wasn’t sure if I wanted to make the picture for that reason, when I heard about it, because I was afraid it was going to be another Russian one-dimensional bad guy. But when I read the script I realized that Steven Caple and his co-writer and Stallone as well had crafted this really interesting character study of somebody who has lost everything and who has nothing. It’s the bottom of the barrel, me and my son. I think the combination of a father/son relationship, and like you said, you have nothing, all to win and nothing to lose makes for really good stakes dramatically. He gave me a chance to play somebody who is a complex character, who has a lot of anger and hate and thirst for revenge, but he’s not a bad father. He actually loves his kid, but he just doesn’t know it until later in the film when he starts realizing what’s important in life. I thought it was really satisfying to do that, because my dad was really hard on me and I had a tough relationship with him. It’s sort of been haunting me for many, many years, but in the last five years or so I went into therapy to get rid of some of the trauma and things that were impacting on my life. I think it went full circle because once I freed myself of that, it’s almost like I am ready to do these types of roles now, and before I really wasn’t for some reason. It was like it was holding me back.
CS: That father/son bond definitely carries over in the movie because you and Florian had this very cold, silent communication between each other. You’re both men of few words, but how did you and him work with each as actors off-set to create that unspoken bond?
Lundgren: As soon as I started to make the picture and I’d read the script and met Steven Caple, I knew that there was going to be a lot of stuff between us. There was no dialogue, and also a lot of things in Russian. I wanted to spend as much time with this guy as I could. So fortunately, he was up for it and I texted him and I met him for like three minutes at MGM. Then I texted him and asked him to come work out. He came to the gym with my trainer, and I met him and we trained together for weeks. We did Russian lessons. I really got to know him, and I think Florian was sort of looking up to me because I’ve been in the business longer than he has. That shows as well, because there is that kind of pit-bull mentality of him, where he does whatwhat his dad tells him. I think it built a lot of trust between us, not just for the acting, but also for those unspoken moments where the lens picks that stuff up. It’s like an answering machine: If you think it, the lens picks it up. It’s kind of magical in that way.
CS: You mentioned how you’d already reunited with Sly for the “Expendables” movies, but when you two were working together during your scene in the restaurant for “Creed II,” where it’s just the two of you, what kind of gravity did that have? Especially given the effect that Drago had on Rocky, not just in “IV,” but continuing on in “V,” “VI” and so on?
Lundgren: Yes. You know, I felt that gravity as soon as I read the script. That was the most important scene for my relationship with him. There’s actually a scene that was cut out and trimmed out at the end, where we sort of make amends a little bit after the fight, which I think was taken out because there might be another “Creed” picture, perhaps. But that restaurant scene, yeah, it was so well-written and it was so interesting. It was a chance for the character to express all this frustration with his life and what had happened and it was all because of Rocky. Drago’s not a fan of Russia, either. He just wants their respect. They let him down, too, but on a personal level it gave me a chance to confront Stallone. He’s been my boss for so many years and he’s been very helpful in my career, and in one way it was difficult to be mean to him, but on the other hand I think it brought our relationship to another level because we’d never done a dramatic scene together, a confrontational scene like that, you know? It was almost like they thought of us as like a joke. This is a real dramatic scene and it was fun to work with him. I mean, he’s a really great actor and a great inspiration. So it was cool on many levels, but mostly, it’s a powerful scene because the character hasn’t said anything. I think he added one or two words before, and then suddenly, we have this three minute scene there and I think it’s good stuff.
CS: You mentioned that there might be room for growth between the two characters in “Creed III.” Does that mean we might see Rocky and Drago high-fiving each other on a beach somewhere?
Lundgren: (laughs) I don’t know if I would go that far, but look, you never know. You never know. With Apollo, they were deadly enemies in “Rocky I,” and then “Rocky II” as well. Then in “Rocky III” Rocky went to Apollo for support and help. We’re friendly, me and Stallone. I was about to text him now, actually, and say, “Sorry I missed you at the after party or last night.” I’m about to text him right now, so obviously we’re friends. I suppose if the world will accept Drago and Rocky being buddies, then maybe we could be.
CS: It feels like “Masters of the Universe” is having something of comeback. Because they have a new movie that they’re developing, do you have advice for the next guy who’s going to play He-Man?
Lundgren: Try to make sure your costume is larger than the size of a stamp, because that’s what I had to wear, and it was a little cold. It was a little chilly in those days. When you shot all the scenes, it was not a blue screen, it was actually out in the street, flying around on a disc in 30-degree weather in Los Angeles in the winter. Yeah, it was pretty cold. Look, I think He-Man is a great character, and I did the 80’s version which is a cute movie. It’s flawed in some ways, but I think it’s charming. And I think there’s some really positive aspect to that character that are sort of timeless. He’s a prince. He’s more than just an action guy who wants to kick ass. There’s something noble about him, at least the original. Hopefully whoever’s going to do it next can capture that.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)