The transcript below is from the video “This Is What Happened To Dolph Lundgren” by Looper.

Looper:

“In 1985, it only took four words to rocket Dolph Lundgren to international stardom.”

(Scene from a Movie)

Dolph Lundgren:

“I must break you.”

Looper:

“As Soviet punching machine Ivan Drago, the towering antagonist of Rocky IV, Lundgren made a serious impression. In the years since, it’s been revealed that he only got into movies on a lark, as his Masters’ degree in chemical engineering probably would have opened up employment options for him in a different field. Fortunately, Hollywood has been pretty good to the kickboxing chemist, and if you’ve ever wondered whatever happened to Dolph, you may be surprised to know that he never really went away, and that, thanks to an old friend, his profile may soon be higher than ever.”

Looper:

DIRECT-TO-VIDEO

After his Rocky IV success, Lundgren found himself with no shortage of offers. He starred in 1987’s notoriously ramshackle ‘Masters of the Universe’ as ‘He-Man’ and was the first big-screen incarnation of Marvel’s Punisher in 1989. But after ’95, the big screen offers seemed to dry up, and Lundgren spent the next decade and a half working steadily in the types of films you only used to see on the bargain shelf at Blockbuster.

(Scene from a movie.)

Looper:

WRITER AND DIRECTOR

Lundgren’s period in direct-to-video purgatory was not without its professional rewards. As it happens, he ended up behind the camera purely by chance. He explained to Grantland…”

Dolph Lundgren:

“In 2002 or ’03, this director got sick before he was going to direct me in something […] When they went to replace him, he suggested me, because I had worked on the script with him. I said, ‘Really? You recommended me?’ But I ended up directing the movie.”

Looper:

“That movie was 2004’s, ‘The Defender’, and Lundgren has gone on to write several more screenplays and directed himself in five more features. He has multiple projects in the pipeline as a director, but he’s not content to stay behind the camera completely; he’s also been quietly making a comeback in mainstream Hollywood films.”

(Scene from a movie.)

Man 1:

“Who is the most underrated actor of all time?”

Man 2:

“It’s Dolph Lundgren.”

Man 1:

“Correct. Why?”

Man 2:

“Well, because of his spiky hair and his ice-cold demeanor and his big muscles.”

Man 1:

“Absolutely.”

Looper:

NOT SO EXPENDABLE

In 2010, Lundgren’s 15-year streak of non-theatrical releases came to a close with ‘The Expendables’, which brought together some of the greatest action stars of the ’80s for an unapologetically throwback action film. In an interview with Den of Geek around the time of the film’s release, Lundgren said he’d been wondering if he’d ever get to work with Stallone again, as the two had remained friends ever since they punched the crap out of each other in Rocky IV. His Expendables character, the unhinged assassin, Gunnar Jensen, ended up being among his favorites to play, and he reprised the role in the two sequels.

Looper:

TELEVISION TIME

Since returning to Hollywood, Lundgren has also taken on a number of one-shot and recurring roles in various television series, beginning with a small part in ‘Chuck’ in 2010. In 2013, he was cast as a lead in the syndicated TV series ‘SAF3’. While well-received, the Baywatch-style series only lasted 20 episodes. More recently, Lundgren has appeared as himself in episodes of ‘Sanjay and Craig’ and ‘Workaholics’.”

(Scene from Workaholics)

Anders Holm:

“Why does Dolph Lundgren wanna do some dumb health blood thing with us?”

Maribeth Monroe:

“Oh, I don’t know, maybe because he’s a decent person who wants to contribute to society?”

Looper:

“He’s also picked up a recurring role as Russian government agent, Konstantin Kovar on the CW’s hit superhero series ‘Arrow’.

Looper:

FIT FOREVER

Now past his 60th birthday, Lundgren still isn’t the kind of man you want to slap around. This is due to a lifetime of dedication to fitness that began well before he became a movie star. He won two karate titles in the early ’80s on his way to achieving a third-degree black belt, thanks to an insane training regimen that saw him rising at 3:00am every morning for a five-mile run before hitting the dojo, followed by hours of weight lifting, then even more karate. Decades later, his training routine is only slightly less intense. Heavy on sandbags, medicine balls, and dumbbells, Lundgren prefers a resistance-based workout routine, which keeps him in Drago-like shape at an age when most men are starting to think about retirement. He even outlined his complete approach to fitness in his 2014 book, ‘Train Like an Action Hero: Be Fit Forever’, which details his…

Dolph Lundgren:

“…personal philosophy of fitness based on martial arts, yoga, strength training, biochemical research, professional sports, and over 40 starring roles in classic action films.”

Looper:

“Which are pretty decent qualifications.”

(Scene from a movie)

Dolph Lundgren:

“Class dismissed.”

Looper:

ACTION ACTIVIST

The 2014 film ‘Skin Trade’, which Lundgren wrote and starred in, features him as an American police officer who goes to Thailand to take down a human trafficking ring. The film’s supporting cast includes martial arts legend Tony Jaa, iconic character actor Ron Perlman, and Peter Weller, AKA Robocop. But its subject matter is no joke for Lundgren, who’s made it his mission to do everything he can to call attention to the issue of human trafficking. He works regularly with a Los Angeles non-profit called ‘Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking’. Most action stars can be seen on the screen saving people from the clutches of criminal gangs, but Lundgren may be the only one who’s taken up the pursuit in real life.

Looper:

BIG RETURN

Lundgren’s perseverance, professionalism and outright likability has paid off. Sure, he continues to appear in such future non-classics as ‘Sharknado 5: Global Swarming’.

(Scene from a movie.)

Boy:

“I’ll save you, Nova!”

Looper:

But his return to the big screen was received warmly enough that offers haven’t ended with the Expendables series. He joined the cast of James Wan’s DC Film entry, ‘Aquaman’, as King Nereus, an antagonist who covets the title character’s love interest, making a showdown with Jason Momoa’s Aquaman all but inevitable. But even more exciting is the news surrounding the sequel to 2015’s ‘Creed’. Stallone and Lundgren both dropped hints on social media teasing the eventual confirmation that Lundgren would be returning to the role that made him famous, which makes sense, given that the storyline focuses on the fight between Adonis Creed and Viktor Drago, Ivan Drago’s son, tying the burgeoning spinoff franchise back in with the saga that spawned it.