Childhood & Early Life
Dolph was born Hans Lundgren on November 3, 1957 in Spånga, Sweden. While his mother Sigrid Birgitta worked as a teacher, his father Karl Johan Hugo Lundgren worked for the Swedish government as an economist and engineer.
Dolph started practicing martial arts like judo and Gōjū-ryū at the age of seven. He then learnt ‘Kyokushin’ karate when he was 10 years old and started lifting weights in his early teens. After spending his childhood in Spånga, Dolph moved to Nyland, Ångermanland to live in his grandparents’ home at the age of 13.
After completing high school, Lundgren moved to the United States and got himself enrolled at ‘Washington State University’ and then at ‘Clemson University’ to study chemical engineering. In the late 70s, he returned to Sweden as he had to mandatorily serve a year in ‘Swedish Marine Corps.’ He then received his chemical engineering degree from ‘Royal Institute of Technology,’ Stockholm.
Apart from focusing on his education, Lundgren was also honing his karate skills during his college years. He was the captain of the Swedish karate team, which was part of the 1979 ‘World Open Tournament.’ After winning European championships for two consecutive years, he moved to Australia in the early 80s, where he won a heavyweight tournament in 1982.
In the same year, he earned his master’s degree from the ‘University of Sydney.’ During his stay in Sydney, he worked as a bouncer in one of the popular nightclubs in order to take care of his expense. While working at the nightclub, he was spotted by the famous Jamaican-American singer and supermodel, Grace Beverly Jones, who hired him as her bodyguard.
He soon started dating Grace Jones, which prompted him to move to New York City in order to stay with her in her apartment. Grace Jones played a major role in influencing him to take up modeling, which led to his modeling stint at ‘Zoli Agency.’ However, he wasn’t taken seriously by the modeling agency, which described him to be too tall and muscular for a model.
He then started working as a bouncer at the popular Manhattan nightclub, ‘The Limelight,’ which gave him an opportunity to study drama at ‘Warren Robertson Theatre Workshop’ during the day. The more he was exposed to acting, the more he fell in love with the art. Also, he started hanging around with people like Andy Warhol, Zara Mohamed Abdulmajid, Tom Hulce, and Andie MacDowell, which deepened his liking for acting.
While visiting the sets of ‘A View to a Kill’ as Grace Jones’ boyfriend, Lundgren was given an opportunity to try out a role based on Jones’ input. This led to his Hollywood debut in 1985 as he played a henchman named Venz in the Roger Moore-starrer James Bond flick.
In the same year, he sent his pictures and videos to one of the contacts of actor Sylvester Stallone, when he learnt that Stallone was looking to cast an imposing fighter to play a vital role in ‘Rocky IV.’ Though he was rejected initially, the team of ‘Rocky IV’ reached out to him later, after auditioning 5,000 other actors. Thus, Lundgren landed his breakthrough role Ivan Drago, the main antagonist of the film.
Post ‘Rocky IV,’ Lundgren was taken seriously as an action-star. In fact, after starring in the Sylvester Stallone-directorial, Lundgren competed in a real boxing match against Oleg Taktarov, which helped his on-screen image as an action-star.
In 1987, Lundgren landed his first lead role in the science fantasy flick, ‘Masters of the Universe,’ in which he played the mighty He-Man. Unfortunately, the film mostly received negative reviews and a few critics went on to say that Lundgren will never make it big in Hollywood. However, he was also compared with the likes of Arnold.
Thanks to his amazing physique and his ability to pull off jaw-dropping action sequences, film-makers continued to cast Lundgren in their films. He went on to appear in 15 films, including six direct-to-video films, throughout the 90s. Some of the films like ‘Universal Soldier’ (1992) and ‘Johnny Mnemonic’ (1995) became major hits, which increased his popularity.
Starting from ‘Silent Trigger,’ which released in 1996, almost all his movies were direct-to-video releases. Some of his most popular direct-to-video films include ‘The Minion,’ ‘Agent Red,’ and ‘The Last Warrior.’
In 2004, Lundgren donned the director’s hat for the first time, when he helmed a British-German action film titled ‘The Defender.’ Starring Dolph Lundgren, Jerry Springer, and Shakara Ledard in prominent roles, the film was written by Douglas W. Miller.
In the following year, apart from directing ‘The Mechanik,’ Lundgren also debuted as a screen-writer as he wrote the film, along with Bryan Edward Hill. He also played the lead role, appearing alongside actors like Ben Cross and Olivia Lee.
He then went on to direct a few more films like ‘Missionary Man’ (2007), ‘Command Performance’ (2009), and ‘Icarus’ (2010), before returning to the big screen as Gunner Jensen in the 2010 American action film, ‘The Expendables.’ In the film, Lundgren shared the screen with the likes of Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Jason Statham, and Steve Austin.
In 2012, he reprised his role as Gunner Jensen in ‘The Expendables 2’ and then went on to star alongside Steve Austin in the 2013 action thriller ‘The Package.’ He continued to appear in a host of direct-to-video films, including ‘Battle of the Damned,’ ‘Ambushed,’ and ‘Puncture Wounds.’
In 2014, he once again reprised his role as Gunner Jensen in ‘The Expendables 3,’ which was directed by Patrick Hughes. In the following year, he co-produced, co-wrote, and starred in the action thriller film, ‘Skin Trade,’ which is based on human trafficking.
From 2015 to 2016, he was seen in 10 films, including ‘War Pigs,’ ‘The Good, the Bad and the Dead,’ ‘Female Fight Club,’ and ‘Kindergarten Cop 2,’ which he co-produced along with Mike Elliott and Greg Holstien. As expected, Lundgren’s performance in ‘Kindergarten Cop 2’ was compared with that of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had played the lead in the film’s prequel, ‘Kindergarten Cop.’
In 2018, he was cast in a host of films like ‘Black Water,’ ‘The Tracker,’ ‘Pups Alone: A Christmas Peril,’ and ‘Creed II,’ in which he reprised his role as the mighty fighter Ivan Drago. Lundgren continues to appear tirelessly in films as he performs various characters that often showcase challenging stunts on the screen.
Other Major Works
Apart from displaying his acting skills in theatrical and direct-to-video films, Lundgren has also showcased his skills in various television series throughout his acting career. However, after appearing in a television film titled ‘Blackjack’ in 1998, Lundgren did not return to the small screen until 2010, when he played Marco in the spy-drama television series, ‘Chuck.’
In 2013, he played John Eriksson in 12 episodes of the action-drama television series, ‘SAF3,’ which is also known as ‘Rescue 3.’ From 2016 to 2017, he played a recurring role in the American superhero television series, ‘Arrow.’ The series, in which he played Konstantin Kovar, is based on a DC comic character named ‘Green Arrow.’
In 2017, he played the older version of John Cena’s character Gustav Ditters in the mockumentary television film ‘Tour de Pharmacy.’ Also starring Orlando Bloom, Andy Samberg, and Freddie Highmore, the film was premiered on HBO. In the same year, he also appeared as a boxer in the music video of ‘Believer,’ which was directed by Matt Eastin.
After breaking up with Grace Beverly Jones, Lundgren started dating American model and actress Paula Barbieri. However, the couple decided not to take their relationship forward, which eventually resulted in their break-up.
Lundgren married a fashion stylist and jewelry designer named Anette Qviberg in 1994. Post their wedding, the couple decided to move to Marbella, Spain, where they bought a home. Qviberg and Lundgren were blessed with two daughters, namely Greta Eveline Lundgren and Ida Sigrid Lundgren.
He divorced Anette Qviberg in 2011 and then started dating Jenny Sandersson, with whom he broke up in 2014. Dolph Lundgren currently resides in Los Angeles, California. Apart from sweating it out in the gym, he also actively uploads his latest images and videos on his official Instagram account, which has more than a million followers.