Dolph Lundgren

Dolph Lundgren became a beloved action star in the 1980s, but his path to stardom was not always so clear. Born in Spanga, Sweden in 1957, Lundgren took an interest in martial arts as a child as a means of coping with his sometimes troubled relationship with his father. He took up judo and Gōjū-ryū at age seven and karate at age 10, and later began lifting weights as a teenager. However, after graduating from high school, Lundgren pursued a decidedly academic path, moving to the United States to study chemical engineering at Washington State University and Clemson University on an academic scholarship before returning to Sweden to complete his degree at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. Lundgren then moved to Sydney, Australia, where he completed a master's degree in chemical engineering at the University of Sydney. However, during the course of his higher education, Lundgren continued studying martial arts, competing as the captain of Sweden's Kyokushin karate team at the 1979 World Open Tournament, winning the European championships in 1980 and 1981, and winning a heavyweight tournament in Australia in 1982. In addition to both his academic and extra-curricular interests, Lundren also earned money working as a bouncer at a Sydney nightclub. He was on the job after recently finishing his master's degree and receiving a Fulbright scholarship to continue his graduate studies at Boston's Massachusetts Institute of Technology when he met up-and-coming singer and model Grace Jones. She hired him as a bodyguard in addition to the two beginning a romantic relationship, and Lundgren opted to forgo his academic plans, instead moving with Jones to New York. There, he found a new job as a bouncer-working alongside fellow future on-screen actor Chazz Palminteri at famous nightclub the Limelight-and began working occasionally as a model. Soon, Jones helped Lundgren audition for a small role in her upcoming film, the James Bond movie "A View to a Kill" (1985). He won the bit part and made his debut as a KGB operative in the movie. He found the process of filming to be surprisingly rewarding, and quickly decided to audition for another role, that of antagonist Ivan Drago opposite Sylvester Stallone in the upcoming sequel "Rocky VI" (1985). Lundgren beat out 5000 other hopefuls to win the role, which proved to be his breakout. He continued acting even after his relationship with Jones came to an end in 1986, starring in cult favorite "Master of the Universe" (1987) and as comic book character "The Punisher" (1989). Lundgren's interests in bodybuilding and martial arts helped suit him to roles in action movies and he continued this throughout the 90s, co-starring with Jean Claude Van Damme in "Universal Soldier" (1992) and Keanu Reeves in "Johnny Mnemonic" (1995), as well as in the 2000s, starring in films like "The Defender" (2004) and "Direct Contact" (2009). While these later films were less prestigious, Lundgren's career entered another upswing when he appeared with several other top-tier action stars such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone in the ensemble hit "The Expendables" (2010). He returned for "The Expendables 2" (2012) and "The Expendables 3" (2014) during this period, in addition to appearing in movies like the crime dramedy "War Pigs" (2015) and in a six-episode arc on the popular series "Arrow" (CW, 2012-). In 2018, Lundgren reprised the role of Ivan Drago for the acclaimed latter-day spin-off "Creed II" (2018) and also appeared as King Nereus in the superhero blockbuster "Aquaman" (2018). The following year found him starring in the action thriller "The Tracker" (2019).