Dolph Lundgren breaks Quint while chatting EXPENDABLES, DIRECT CONTACT and UNIVERSAL SOLDIER!!!
Published at: June 2, 2009, 10:39 p.m. CST by headgeek
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. Now, I tried to pass the buck on this interview. Don’t get me wrong, I grew up on Dolph Lundgren’s work and was very, very pleased to get a chance to speak with the man, but this interview shouldn’t have been done by me. I begged Vern to do it. He considered it, but ultimately just didn’t think doing interviews was his thing.
So, I was torn. There is no way I could do as good a job with this interview as Vern could, but I was also excited to have some time with Ivan Friggin’ Drago, and especially cherished the chance to dig up some EXPENDABLES stuff.
And I found that Dolph was more than happy to talk about Sly and his movie, so you’ll find quite a bit of EXPENDABLES talk going on below.
I also want to take a moment to thank Brandy Fons for setting this chat up and give a real special, heart-felt thanks to Sir Stroker Ace who came in when I was in a pinch and transcribed the below chat for me. I am grateful, oh mustached one.
Beware some EXPENDABLES spoilers when we divert into Stallone territory during the chat. Without any further ado, here's Mr. Lundgren. Enjoy!
Quint: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me, man. I really appreciate it.
Dolph Lundgren: Sure, me too.
Quint: I watched the movie last week and one thing that really stood out to me on this one was that you guys seemed to get a lot of value out of your location.
Dolph Lundgren: Yeah.
Quint: Yeah. It’s like the movie’s, you know, all over the place – tons of exteriors. You shot that in Bulgaria, right?
Dolph Lundgren: Yeah. It was Les Weldon and Danny Lerner who developed and produced it, and shot in Sophia. I shot a couple other movies there actually, one right after that called COMMAND PERFORMANCE that I directed – it was actually a two-picture deal, and did this one, DIRECT CONTACT, and then COMMAND PERFORMANCE, later the same year – last year.
Quint: That’s cool. I take it you guys went there for an incentive or something? Is that why…
Dolph Lundgren: Yeah. Well, the thing is they own a studio there, Nu Image. So, they get a great deal for, you know, for a lot of things – for crew, for equipment, cameras, they got a special effects company there, a visual effects company that did, for instance, the RAMBO picture, the last one, my last movie COMMAND PERFORMANCE, so…yeah – there’s some advantages there that it’s hard to get in the West these days.
Quint: There’s something about that kind of Eastern European feel, you know – it’s just real production value, you don’t really see anything like that here in the States, so, you know, if you see a movie made here in the States, or around there, it’s always something built, and they can’t really show too much of the city…
Dolph Lundgren: Yeah, well Europe is different, it’s good for movies with people getting killed in mysterious ways, cause that’s the way it is over there, so… (laughs)
Quint: Did you ever run into any of that? I’ve talked to people who’ve shot in Eastern Europe and have actually run into the mob.
Dolph Lundgren: Yeah, sure - if you know them, they’re cool! You just gotta be sure they’re on YOUR side.
Quint: Yeah, you just gotta bring them on and give them some craft service.
Dolph Lundgren: Give ‘em a couple of roles in the movie and stuff like that – it works well.
Quint: Oh yeah? Did you actually cast some of those people?
Dolph Lundgren: Well, not in that movie, but in the next one, COMMAND PERFORMANCE, I had a couple of guys in there. But that was good, you know – they help you out.
Quint: Yeah, great – and I’m sure it’s also gives you a real feel to those guys man – you look ‘em in the eye, you can tell they’ve done the real shit.
Dolph Lundgren: Yeah, for sure. Yeah. In COMMAND PERFORMANCE – it’s a hostage drama – and there’s a crew of bad guys in it, like maybe 15 guys, and I’d say about half of those or more are real. So, you know, you can tell straight away, the way they carry their weapons and everything.
Most of them have been in the military as well, before that – so they’ve got both things going.
Quint: For DIRECT CONTACT, how much time did you spend on the training, cause there’s just a lot of action in that movie.
Dolph Lundgren: I - well, I’m always training, I’m always working out, and I’m always staying in shape. My sparring partner’s from Bulgaria, and uh – that particular film had a lot of fights, and I work with the stunt coordinator and try to make it my own, to some extent. It takes a couple of weeks before you start. I think for me, it’s a bit easier than for some actors, but you have to practice – you have to train for at least a week.
Quint: Yeah. Do you like the hand-to-hand stuff, as opposed to, like the more gun-driven action?
Dolph Lundgren: Yeah, I think so. I mean, I think you need the balance. But, certainly, I think that, you know, the physicality is certainly a bit more primitive, and people like to see that, you know - especially if you’ve got actors who are big, or who are powerful, that’s certainly something that means more to you because not a lot of people can do it and make it look real. Just grabbing somebody and throwing them up against a wall – that can be more powerful than aiming a high-tech weapon at them.
Quint: Yeah. Anybody can pick up a gun, but not just anybody can knock some teeth out.
Dolph Lundgren: Well, that’s what’s cool about what Stallone has done with EXPENDABLES, which I’m working on now, because he knows that the trend is coming back a little bit that way. With MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) being big, and even kids seeing it – younger kids – they kinda know what a real punch does to somebody, so he’s kinda bringing it back down to a bit more fighting – knife, knives, hand-to-hand, gunplay – stuff instead of doing this totally fantastic stuff that’s more reserved for super heroes. But before, regular guys would do it in movies, and you would believe it, so…
Quint: Yeah. We’re very much looking forward to EXPENDABLES here at AICN. It just seems like the kind of movie that we don’t see come out of the studio system anymore.
Dolph Lundgren: No.
Quint: I love that Stallone’s been able to re-establish himself as a big player. I thought ROCKY and RAMBO were both fantastic, and what I love about EXPENDABLES is that it’s his own original idea. You’re not having him basing it off a character that everybody has nostalgia for, you know – so it’s kind of an unadulterated mystery for all of us fans of his and I love the cast that he’s assembled. I can’t wait to see you guys on screen again together.
Dolph Lundgren: Well, I think what it is… I’m realizing myself now, writing and directing… working with Stallone, that he’s one-of-a-kind. He’s one of those pros. Who’s starred in more big action movies than him? Nobody. Nobody’s done that, and he’s got a wealth of experience, and it just took for him to, you know, put it together and put a lot of work into this original script, and getting the crew together.
But I think people are going to appreciate it, and it’s gonna bring back some of that old school stuff that I think some people are missing these days, you know – it’s not all flying from building-to-building, it could be a little more by real people, and that’s what he’s done.
Quint: That sounds great. Can you tell me a little bit about your character in THE EXPENDABLES?
Dolph Lundgren: Um…well, I’ll tell ya – he’s an outcast guy. It’s sorta like a movie about a family. It’s a bunch of guys who have their problems, and they’re working, they’re doing these jobs that nobody wants to take, mercenary jobs. My guy, he’s like the big combat veteran, old friend of Sly’s in the movie, and he’s just seen too much, and he’s kinda going through a really hard time, himself.
He’s kinda coming apart at the seams in the beginning. He gets thrown out - out of the group, and then he kinda goes on this wild journey throughout the movie, (leading) to an unexpected ending, so…I get to play both good and bad, and crazy – you know. It’s pretty cool. A good role for me. (laughs)
Quint: Yeah, it sounds like a great role. It sounds like you have a lot to play with – not just in an action sense, but in a dramatic sense as well.
Dolph Lundgren: Yeah, that’s correct. That’s what he’s done. He’s a master at creating these larger-than-life, mythical characters, you know – that’s what his whole career is based on, and he’s done it for me once before. This one’s pretty good, too – so I’m really pleased about that.
Quint: (laughs) Have you shot all your stuff for that movie?
Dolph Lundgren: No, no actually I’ve done just a few things. I’ve got most of it coming up next month.
Quint: Fantastic. Is it hard for you – you’ve mentioned that you’ve directed your own features now – is it hard for you to put your trust into another director, be it in a DIRECT CONTACT or THE EXPENDABLES or any of these other pictures, is it hard for you to just concentrate only on the acting side of things?
Dolph Lundgren: No, actually, the opposite. I’ve worked with some good directors – like John Woo, and Stallone, and (Roland) Emmerich – people I learn from. But, you know, not that many, so…I worked with a lot of directors. I mean, I can learn from everybody, you know, but now with Stallone directing… you know, he’s so experienced that that I’m soaking up everything he says, every word.
Some of the other actors don’t realize it he’s been around so long, that you know, he’s really got every little detail. Like how do you grip the steering wheel during a car chase, you know… little pointers on how to sit, how to look. The small details. We’re friends, so he gives me a lot of good advice. This is really – it’s a pleasure, cause when I’m directing your performance is the last thing you think about, unfortunately. You worry about everyone else and the movie itself. So it’s really a pleasure. I hope to do more of these cameos.
Quint: Do you think you could ever move to directing solely, just do a picture where you’re not the star?
Dolph Lundgren: Yeah, I think so. I already got an offer to do that, actually.
Quint: Oh yeah?
Dolph Lundgren: For some reason I couldn’t do it. Now I’m feeling a little more because of EXPENDABLES and UNIVERSAL SOLDIER and all that, that maybe… I can see where there’s a value where I have something a little unique on screen. There’s something there that’s interesting that certainly, I think, can work in big movies - and small movies – but you know, it is challenging to think about directing only. I can’t do it yet, but maybe in the future I can.
Quint: Well, I mean it sounds like a natural progression for you. You have another directorial effort coming up, don’t you?
Dolph Lundgren: Yeah, I’ve got a film I’m posting called ICARUS that I filmed in Vancouver and I’m now going back between Vancouver and New Orleans all the time. And then the other one, COMMAND PERFORMANCE that I shot and directed, that one’s finished now. We posted that in LA. That’s the rock ‘n roll thing I did when I played drums, so I’ve got a few other things going on.
Quint: I hate to keep going off on tangents, but you mentioned UNIVERSAL SOLDIER, and that’s something I know a lot of people are looking forward to, seeing that next installment. How did that go for you? Was it difficult kind of stepping back into that roll?
Dolph Lundgren: No, it wasn’t difficult, it was just that my schedule was so tough. I was posting one movie and filming another, prepping ICARUS and posting COMMAND. They wanted me in it, and I had a lot of talks with the director about the role, because he’s only got so much time to do it, but he did it – he did a good job. John Hyams. He wrote a really interesting little…well, it’s not a little role, it’s kinda pivotal, but it’s not on-screen that long. But, it’s a cool role that explains some of the plot in the movie, towards the end. So, it was, it was fun.
In one way it was bizarre, I should say, to find myself in the UNIVERSAL SOLDIER outfit after 17 years, holding on to Jean Claude, smacking him up against a wall, I was like, “Shit man, are we in a dream or what?” It’s weird ‘cause it happened so quickly. With (EXPENDABLES), it’s not like I’m pulling on the red Russian boxing shorts again, you know? Now that would feel bizarre.
But, with Stallone on-screen, doing another sort of confrontational scene with him the other week, which was cool… it was very interesting. But with Jean Claude, it was a little more surreal, (like) the same thing in a new version.
I think people are gonna enjoy it, I certainly did. It’s a very violent movie, that one. THE EXPENDABLES… it has violence, yes, but in a different sort, a different league, whereas the other film is super-violent. I think some people will love it. It has a lot of MMA fighters and stuff in it, breaking each other’s balls. I do my own fair share. But I think it’s - they complement each other, to some extent.
Quint: Well if you think that’s weird, wait until they ask you to be in MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE.
Dolph Lundgren: (laughs) Yeah, play his grandfather or something. I don’t know…yeah – why not, you know? We’ll see. I mean, I suppose when you stick around long enough, you know, things take on a different…they take on a movie iconic thing that happens. It’s kinda cool. I see it with Stallone, or you know the actor Clint Eastwood is certainly there. I’m not in their league, but there’s suddenly something… I can feel a little bit of my career going a little bit like that. It feels like that. It’s kinda cool.
Quint: Yeah. No definitely, I definitely get that sense, too – and that’s another thing I really like about what Stallone is doing, he’s very much bringing together people that, you know – for people like me that grew up on ‘80s action movies… we miss you guys! We miss you guys playing on a big scale, especially playing together. Definitely, there’s nostalgia there, but there’s also a unique chemistry that you guys have, especially you and Sly had in ROCKY. You know what I mean – where it’s just, you kinda miss that – you don’t get that kind of chemistry much.
Dolph Lundgren: What you’re saying is what (Sly)’s done, he’s smart with Mickey Rourke, and he’s realizing this that it’s one thing when a young, very fit guy, you know, holding a gun and pointing it at you, it’s another thing when an old scarred guy, still muscular, walks through the door holding a shotgun. It’s a different feeling, you know – that’s what he’s doing in this movie. It’s a bit more menacing, and he’s playing on that, which is kinda cool – I like that.
Quint: Yeah. There’s a weight to somebody who’s had that experience, and it shows on their face.
Dolph Lundgren: It’s fun. Certainly I’m enjoying it, and I hope the fans will.
Quint: Well thank you so much, man. I realize you’ve probably got a few other people to talk to, so I won’t keep you any longer, but I really appreciate you taking the time.
Dolph Lundgren: Thanks Eric – ‘preciate it, man.
Hope you guys enjoyed the chat! Thanks again to Stroker Ace for the help!
Today I interviewed Francis Ford Coppola (how is that for two interviews… Dolph Lundgren and Francis Ford Coppola?) and will have that interview ready for you later in the week. Plus I have some HANGOVER coverage, so keep an eye peeled!
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