Lundgren chose acting over ivy

ON SCREEN, Dolph Lundgren has absolutely no trace of an accent. In person, the Swedish origin is barely detectable. You have to listen for it. "I worked on it," said Lundgren. "I'm still working on it, and I did go to school in this country."

Actually, he went to several, Clemson, MIT and Washington State among them.


He grew up in Sweden and Germany. In Stockholm, he attended the Royal Institute of Technology. Later, he went to the University of Sydney where he "pursued" a degree in chemical engineering.

He eventually earned that degree, but he was not destined to follow engineering as a career. "My father and brother were both engineers, and my mother taught language," he said. "All are academics except for me."


Somewhere along the line, Lundgren served with the Swedish Marine Corps. After that, he moved to New York where he did some modeling to earn a few dollars. A friend, a woman who was in the music business, suggested that he try acting. He thought that a good idea, and at the age of 23, won a small role in "A View To a Kill," Roger Moore's last James Bond film.

From there, Lundgren went into "Rocky IV" in which he played the Russian boxer who almost floored Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone).

It wasn't easy getting the role. "I made the mistake of trying to get the role through casting, and when that didn't work, I sent Sly pictures of me through someone who knew him," said Lundgren. "I later got to talk to him and got the part."

You'll not get Lundgren to say anything unkind about Stallone. "He was nice to me," he said. "He listened to me. He helped me a lot. He is a very nice guy."

Lundgren's newest film is "I Come in Peace," a thriller in which he is a Houston cop who comes face to face with an intergalactic drug seller. In the film, Lundgren looks like a brown-haired giant. In person, his hair was back to its natural blond color, making him look almost gaunt.

It could be the clothes. He stands six feet five inches and in his Frankenstein-monster clothing, the huge shoulder pads, the buttonless jacket, the oversize shirt color and the skinny tie, he could have passed for a better looking Boris Karloff.

We didn't tell him that. He may have looked gaunt in person, his clothing may have been outsize, but the screen image of Dolph Lundgren was still fresh in the mind.

He's happy with the new movie, but that doesn't mean he wants to continue doing action films. "I want to try as much as possible," he said. "I'm still fairly young. I would like to stay with the action-oriented films, but I don't really know where I am headed. When I find out what I do best, I'll do more of that. There are many ways to go. I've got to figure it out. I may do movies with action and comedy or just comedy or just action. I'll see.


"The really nice thing about 'I Come in Peace' is that it is funny, offbeat and unpredictable. The character I play is contemporary, a regular guy, and it allows the industry to see a different side of me. I have to grow. I've had limited experience."

"I Come in Peace" will not be shown in Lundgren's native Sweden. "It's banned there," he said. "I did another film that was banned there, 'The Punisher.' It's because of the violence, but 'I Come in Peace' is pretty tame, compared to other films. They've got something against my films. If you work abroad, they get jealous of you. They did the same thing to Bjorn Borg. He's been treated very badly. What they are saying is that we are here, and they are there. We're paying taxes, and you are not.

"I once tried to speak in English, and that got them mad, but there are ways of correcting that situation," he said. "You just have to be careful."

There was a time when Lundgren was a target of the market tabloids, particularly when he was going with Grace Jones.

"No more," he said. "Grace and I went together for four years, but it ended, and since then, the tabloids have let me be."

If they don't, he can always intimidate them, simply by walking into their offices. They're not likely to keep writing stories about a guy who looks like a blond Karloff.


"I Come in Peace" opens here on Friday.