When you think of Rocky IV, you don’t necessarily think of Rocky Balboa. You don’t necessarily think of Apollo Creed dancing to James Brown. You think of one thing – Ivan Drago, the glistening Russian gladiator with the spiky blond hair who looked at the Italian Stallion and rumbled “I must break you.” Now that man, Dolph Lundgren, is teaming up with Rocky, aka Sylvester Stallone, in the new high-octane action flick The Expendables, which he has alternately referred to as a Sex and the City for action heroes and an Ocean’s 11 for ugly tough guys. While Lundgren was happy to be working with Sly again, he recently admitted that working on this film made him feel like his career was over.
“The hardest scene for me probably was the first time I appear in the movie,” Lundgren said. “I come out and I tell this joke. Do the first take. Sly says, ‘Pretty good. Let’s try another one.’ And then this joke got worse and worse. So after about 20 takes, I was losing it. I was like, ‘What’s going on here?’ It was embarrassing. But Sly wanted me to do it a certain way, and he was right. Anyway, we went through it, and I felt like, ‘Aw, man, that was the worst day on a film set I think I’ve ever had. Holy s–t. My f-ing career – oh, sorry! My career is over. This is it. I’m finished.’”
“The funniest part was when I came to the ADR to do the ADR for that scene, Sly goes, ‘Hey, guess which take got used.’”
“I used the first take!” Stallone admitted. “He got it right the first time!”
One might think that was a little bit of revenge from what happened on Rocky IV. Much like Stallone had his neck broken by Stone Cold Steve Austin on the set of this film, something similar happened way back then. “It’s just stupid,” Stallone admitted about the incident. “I said to Dolph, ‘Punch me as hard as you can in the chest,’ and he did. Next thing I know, I was in Intensive Care at St. John’s Hospital for four days. It’s stupid!”
Is there any kind of rematch between Rocky and Drago in this new film? “There’s a confrontation because Sly plays my boss,” Lundgren revealed. “My character is a bit edgy. He’s seen too many battles, a little too bloodthirsty, too extreme. Sly decides to get rid of me which I don’t really appreciate too much, so I get a little bit mad. One thing leads to another, and it kind of has an interesting twist to our relationship.”
All in all, despite the travails, Lundgren is thrilled to be a part of this. “We beat the crap out of each other 25 years ago, and we’d love to do it again,” he said. “Sly called me and gave me a great script and a great role, and that was it. I went in to work with him again. It was a great experience for me and one that only comes along maybe once in your career. It was terrific, really, really special.”