Dolph Lundgren has been in the movie business for 30 years, and he's not slowing down now. But maybe he's changing things up a little. His latest film is LEGENDARY, a PG-13 monster movie made in China that features very little action - well, action of the sort we're used to seeing Lundgren participate in. Here's a movie starring Dolph and Scott Adkins (who we interviewed last week) that doesn't feature a single roundhouse kick. (Hell, the duo hardly even touch each other, save for one punch.) But Dolph finds other ways to have fun here, especially since he's playing Harker, a villainous hunter/scientist out for ancient monster blood.
It's always a pleasure to chat with Dolph, and here we talk about his role in the film, the dangerous shooting conditions in China, THE EXPENDABLES 3 and working with Sly Stallone.
It's kind of fun to see you and Scott together in a movie that's a little different than what we're used to.
Yeah, I think so. It's fun and different. We get to talk a little more.
Were you looking to switch it up a little?
That was part of it. For me, it was a chance to play a different type of guy. He has different levels and colors than what I get to usually play. He's a tough guy and has a bad side, but he's also a scientist and he likes to hear his own voice talk. The fact that it's mainly for the Chinese market is pretty interesting, because that's the future, they have different tastes than Western movies.
Do you enjoy playing the villain, the opportunity to sink your teeth in the role?
Yeah, it's fun. It's refreshing in a way. Sometimes the villain is more memorable.
When I talked to Scott Adkins the other day, he let me know that he was originally up for the villain role, but you took an interest in it and landed it. Is that accurate?
Maybe you're right, I didn't know that. I kind of like Harker, he's an interesting guy.
Scott told me working in China is a totally different experience than working anywhere else; what can you tell me about your experience there?
They're in the infancy in filmmaking there, in terms of working with outside production companies. The conditions are sort of rough, and the crews have to take care of their own food, feeding themselves, that's their problem. [Laughs] They don't have the same safety regulations as America or Europe, it's like you have to watch out when you're doing stuff, and during the action you have to watch out for yourself. But when you're shooting here at night, they have lights, and all the paths are lit up, and all the potholes are filled in and everything. Over there, you just have to watch out, if you break your leg that's your problem. I've seen that. Otherwise, I enjoyed it. The D.P., a Chinese guy, was very, very talented. They have a different eye.
It looks like we're already starting to cater to their audience.
Oh yeah, definitely. If you have the right project, usually it has to be something provocative, you can get a deal with China.
Do you still enjoy doing your own stunt work, when possible?
Yeah, I do. It keeps me staying in shape. When I do these movies I feel I have to do the stunts myself, people want to see that. I haven't done too many movies where I do backflips and work with wires, that's not my thing, you know? I do the fights, and some motorcycle riding if I can. It helps if people see it's you; when you have a stunt double doing it, the continuity isn't there.
Is there anything you haven't done that you're looking to do?
I like historical movies, period pieces. World War II - I'm actually doing a World War II movie never year. I'd like to do some more directing, too. I started directing, but then I stopped because I had to produce and direct. If you don't produce, you don't have final say and that's when people come and take your work, and that's a bit upsetting. I've directed only action genres pictures, so it would be fun to do something different.
When you look back at your long career, what do you think the most difficult or challenging projects were?
Gosh, there are a few. One that was very challenging was ROCKY IV. That was fun, but I was new. I hadn't seen a camera before, basically, and I was nervous. THE EXPENDABLES shoots have been tough. The conditions have been rough; in the second one we were in Bulgaria in the winter. Also my first directing gig, which was in Romania, that was tough because I had the bond company looking over my shoulder all the time. I didn't sleep much, either. I remember at the wrap party, everyone was drinking, I was standing at the bar and I fell asleep on the bar. [Laughs] I don't think I've ever done that before.
Speaking of THE EXPENDABLES, can you talk a little about your relationship with Sylvester Stallone, and what has kept it going all these years?
He's been a mentor to me in some respects, because he's very driven and meticulous when he works, as both an actor and director. He's the guy I've been closest to over the years, and I've gotten to watch how he does things. It never fails to amaze me, how hard he works. Part of the talent is not giving up, you have to take the battles and believe in your vision. Especially in THE EXPENDABLES series, he's been very active in these movies. But on a personal level, yeah, we've stayed in touch. That's kind of unusual, because in this business you don't work with people for 30 years. We thought we were grown up when we did ROCKY IV, and we were men, but compared to now we were kind of kids, at least I was. But he's been there for my whole career.
Do you think the new EXPENDABLES might be the best one yet?
I hope so, it will be fun. The cast is great, guys like Antonio Banderas, Harrison Ford, Wesley Snipes. Wesley is a cool guy, we got along really well on set. It's bigger, certainly, and I think a little harder. The second one is a little more jokey, I think this one is a little more brutal.
Finally, are we going to see the return of Andrew Scott in another UNIVERSAL SOLDIER movie?
Yeah, why not? I think there's something in the works, I know they're working on something. That's the only sequel I've done aside from THE EXPENDABLES, and those are just a few years apart so it feels like one big movie. UNIVERSAL SOLDIER, the first one was twenty years ago. Hopefully I don't have to do Ivan Drago again, I don't want to put those shorts on. [Laughs]
Thanks for your time, Dolph.
Thanks, you too.
LEGENDARY hits DVD today! Order your copy right HERE.