News & Opinion | November 22, 2018 5:00 am

Dolph Lundgren Takes Swing at Changing Audience Perceptions in “Creed II”

Swedish actor has lived in shadow of Drago ever since "Rocky IV," but now gets chance to fight for his character.

Dolph Lundgren and Florian Munteanu star as Ivan and Viktor Drago in CREED II,a Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures film. (Barry Wetcher / Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures / Warner Bros. Pictures© 2018 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
Dolph Lundgren and Florian Munteanu star as Ivan and Viktor Drago in CREED II,a Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures film. (Barry Wetcher / Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures / Warner Bros. Pictures© 2018 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)

Ever since Rocky IV launched him to stardom, Dolph Lundgren has taken it on the chin.

While playing the Russian boxing juggernaut Ivan Drago in the 1985 classic led to other roles, the problem was casting directors and filmmakers could never see past the former MIT engineering student’s intimidating physique.

“It was my big break, but it also pigeonholed me,” Lundgren told The Hollywood Reporter of the role. “People think, ‘He’s a robot and he has no emotions.’ Now I can do the opposite, and it’s very, very satisfying.”

That’s because Lundgren is reprising his role as Drago in Creed II, out Thanksgiving, this time playing the disgraced Russian boxer with 33 years worth of emotional baggage that came from losing the fight of his life against Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), and with it, the love of his life. This time, he’s out for revenge by pitting his own hulking son against the Rocky’s protege, Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan).

This is a much more nuanced take on the character that knocked out movie fans all those years ago. And to produce it, Lundgren mined the abuse he faced at the hands of his father as a child and his own insecurities about a stalled career.

“That’s what I’m using a lot for Drago,” said Lundgren. “He’s also a guy who has lost everything and suffered a lot, and I’ve suffered a lot in my life.”