Film

Dolph Lundgren: "Computer games and movies may contribute towards violence"

Action hero Dolph Lundgren talks about the danger of superhero films, doping Russian athletes and Kindergarten Cop 2

Imagine you’re a burglar. You’ve broken into a house and it’s certainly a plush pad, but while perusing the items you plan on pilfering you see a photo of the owner. It’s Dolph Lundgren, star of countless action movies including Universal Soldier and The Expendables. The Swede played He-Man in Masters of the Universe and the fearsome Ivan Drago in the film that defined the Cold War, Rocky IV. He was two-time European karate champion and also dated Grace Jones. He is clearly not to be trifled with. So when burglars broke into his Spanish home in 2009, they did what any sensible thief would do once they realised who lived there – flee as fast as they could.

Among Lundgren’s many talents (he also has a Masters degree in Chemical Engineering), he has written a book that could revolutionise the fitness industry. And he has also found the time to star in the most eagerly awaited sequel of 2016 – Kindergarten Cop 2.

You wrote a book called Train Like an Action Hero: Be Fit Forever – is that the secret of health and fitness?


Well, that was the title of the book. That doesn’t explain it in detail but training like an action hero means, to some extent, it’s somebody who has to use their physique and health as a career. That’s why I came up with some tricks and suggestions that that can help the average person as well. Basically I try to put my health first a lot of the time – that’s where my career comes from and that’s where all our wellbeing comes from. Without being healthy you can’t enjoy life. It’s that simple.

In the 1980s if you wanted to emulate screen heroes like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone you had to exercise. Action heroes today just need a special suit or to be bitten by a spider. Have people’s perception of fitness changed because the hero they see in the cinema has changed?


That’s a good a point you’re making. Now you find the right suit or the right chemical mixture and you’re fine. Your stunt double takes over, that’s what happens. I don’t know if it’s changed the perception of fitness because people are still trying to get fit – and if you go to a gym today there are a lot of fit people in there. I think what’s changed is in the ’80s the action stars were also role models – physical role models – to a lot of people, whether it was Chuck Norris or Sly Stallone, or Arnold or Van Damme or myself, but now that isn’t there anymore. There are very few actors who are real athletes or real physical people. There are a couple, The Rock and Jason Statham maybe. People look up to athletes and fitness models for inspiration rather than actors because – they are usually good actors – but perhaps not as physical as some of our guys were.

Sly and I in Rocky IV, we looked not superhuman but almost – but it was all real

You say people look up to athletes but they are often found to be doping. Russia may be banned from this year’s Olympics – it’s as if they’ve never seen Rocky IV!


Yeah, they didn’t read that script yet. Look what happened to poor Drago, no matter how much stuff he took he still lost! People look up to athletes, yes. What’s changed is it’s tough for the kids because nothing’s real anymore. All the images in magazines have been doctored, and retouched. You have to look up to superhuman images. Sly and I in Rocky IV, we looked not superhuman but almost – but it was all real. There were no ways of doctoring these images. Now you see these people with incredible abs and incredible muscles but most of it is fake.

Will there be a reaction against films full of special effects and computer generated images doing most of the stunts?

The Expendables is part of that. There has been a bit of a reaction like that except all of the superhero movies that have been doing so well, they’re very bloodless and full of special effects. There is a movement towards cleaning up action and making it feel that it’s ok to shoot somebody because there’s no affect, no brain splattered over the wall. To me I think computer games and movies may contribute a little bit towards violence because you never see the affect of it. You see a guy pulling a trigger, but in reality it’s not as nice as it was in the movie. It’s always been a tough subject manner but for entertainment value sure there’s always going to be room for more realistic pictures.

Speaking of which, you star in Kindergarten Cop 2. Does the film come with Arnie’s seal of approval?


Yes. I guess so. He thought it was fun that I was going to do it. We tried to put him in the picture to do a little cameo but it didn’t work out. But it was great to hear that he was for it.

He didn’t warn you off working with so many children?


Everyone warns you against working with kids and animals, but I had no choice in this case.

What’s changed in the 25 years since the first Kindergarten Cop?

The difference is the kindergarten in this movie is a very progressive modern school where they’re into the environment, tofu, and hugging their therapy animal… My character’s kind of old school, he doesn’t know about these things. That brings an additional element of comedy, apart from just the fact that kids are kids and they drive you nuts sometimes.

That’s what I imagine school to be like in Sweden.


Yeah, probably. Very liberal. My kids went to kindergarten in Spain, it was an English/Spanish kindergarten so it was a bit more old school.

You have a Masters in Chemical Engineering. Are you disappointed you never really got to use your degree?


Yeah, I still have an interest in science and technology. I unfortunately never got to work as a chemical engineer but I suppose I’ve had a pretty interesting life since then so I don’t miss it too much.

Kindergarten Cop 2 is out now on DVD

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