Despite having gone on to have an illustrious film career in the nearly forty years since he first portrayed the character, including a stint in The Expendables and a role as Aquaman’s King Nereus, Dolph Lundgren still has insight to give regarding his breakout portrayal of Rocky Balboa’s Russian nemesis, Ivan Drago.
Not one to shy away from discussing the Rocky IV role that launched his career, Lundgren spoke to his time as The Siberian Express during an interview, given in promotion of his upcoming directorial feature Castle Falls, with The Hollywood Reporter published on November 29th.
Asked by reporter Brian Davids for his thoughts on Stallone’s newly released director’s cut of their cinematic showdown, Rocky IV: Rocky vs. Drago, Lundgren replied, “I haven’t seen it yet. Sly showed me little clips, but I’ve been filming the last two weeks, every day.”
“Today is my first day off for a number of weeks,” he revealed. “So I’m going to watch it. I was just reading some of the reviews, and people seem to like it.”
Noting that the film “adds a bit more humanity to Ivan Drago than we saw in the original cut,” Woods then asked if Lundgren had wanted “to see more of Drago’s human side in 1985,” to which the actor responded by opening up on his approach to portraying the character.
“Well, when I played the character, I did a backstory about how he was brought up by the state and they controlled him,” explained Lundgren. “He didn’t have much say. He wasn’t really an evil person; he was just a product of the system. He’s Frankenstein’s monster. He’s not Dr. Frankenstein; that was the Soviet Union.”
“So I always played that, and some of that came across in ’85,” he continued. “A little bit of something came across because in the next picture, I was not playing a villain. So some of it was there even then. Sly and I are friends, but now, I guess he wanted to show the other side of the character. So I’m sure I’ll enjoy it.”
Woods then turned to how “Sly has talked a lot lately about [the] punch that put him in the ICU,” leading Lundgren to humorously recall how he “didn’t know what happened” after knocking out his co-star.
“We wrapped the fight in Vancouver, and then I found out he was in the hospital,” said Lundgren. “I didn’t really know it was my fault to start with; I just thought he was overworked. He was directing, acting and duking it out in the ring with a 10-year younger European heavyweight champion in karate, meaning me. He took some hard shots and so did I.”
“But when I found out, I was obviously distraught,” the actor added. “I felt bad. I just did what he told me to do, and I didn’t want to hurt him. I’m quite a nice guy and I’ve never had any aggression towards anyone. But I was happy when he came out of the hospital and everything continued. But it’s certainly a good PR story, for sure.”
In conclusion to their discussion on the fictional Russian terror, Woods inquired as to whether or not Lundgren felt “disappointed” when a hospital fight scene between Rocky and Drago was cut from Creed II, prompting the actor to admit, “I was.”
He told Woods, “I thought it was a good moment. It was also a fan moment. It was a quick little fight, and I thought it worked. But the director [Stephen Caple Jr.] and MGM felt that it was extraneous and that it didn’t add anything,” before briefly teasing, “By the way, I think there’s some talk about doing a whole spinoff on Drago with MGM. So you may get more of that.”
Castle Falls is set for a theatrical and digital release on December 3rd.
What do you make of Lundgren’s latest look into his time as Ivan Drago? Let us know your thoughts on social media or in the comments down below!