Why Dolph Lundgren Almost Didn’t Return For Creed 2

Dolph Lundgren as Ivan Drago in Rocky IV

Although the main Rocky film series wrapped up in 2006 with Rocky Balboa (thankfully sparing us from more years of looking at Rocky V as the final chapter), the mythology is still expanding with the Creed movies. This fall, Creed 2 will establish even closer ties with the Rocky saga when Michael B. Jordan's Adonis Creed crosses paths with Ivan Drago, the man who killed his father in Rocky IV, and his son, Viktor. Lundgren is returning to step in Ivan Drago's shoes again for Creed 2, but the actor admitted that initially he didn't want to appear in the sequel because he was worried it might hurt how people perceive the character. As Lundgren answered when asked about how it felt to reprise Drago:

It was a bit strange. It's a bit weird. Because at first I didn't want to do it because I thought it would kind of sad. I didn't want to hurt that image because it's like an iconic character that people, especially people who work out, really look up to this guy.

It's been more than 30 years since we watched Ivan Drago kill Apollo Creed in the ring and later duke it out with Rocky Balboa, and considering that Drago is arguably the Rocky film series' most popular antagonist, I can't blame Dolph Lundgren for worrying that playing the character after all this time could affect how fans perceive him. Granted, Lundgren still looks fit, but the decades passing mean Drago's obviously not going to be in the same condition, similar to how Rocky had seen better days in Creed. In the end, though, as Lundgren noted during a Q&A at Comic-Con Portugal (via Look Mag), it was the Creed 2 script, penned by Sylvester Stallone and Cheo Hodari Coker, that convinced him to join the sequel. Lundgren added:

But the script was really good and I get a chance to show another side of the same man 35 years later, and more of a damaged, struggling side. I used some of my own life that I've been through the last 35 years in this character, so it's kind of full circle. So it turned out to be a really great experience for me. A real dramatic challenge, but also a great experience to look back at my own career the way he looks back at his career as a fighter. There're some parallels that I think are kind of unique. Because usually you don't revisit the character 35 years later. Somebody else will play it. You get a new James Bond. Except, of course, Stallone has done it, so I guess I'm in good company there.

Just like how Rocky didn't resume his fighting career during Creed, Ivan Drago probably won't put his boxing gloves back on during Creed 2, though that doesn't exclude the possibility that someone will throw a punch at him or vice versa. Instead, the sequel will see Adonis throwing down in fisticuffs with Viktor Drago, but judging by Dolph Lundgren's comments, it sounds like the movie will explore challenges that Lundgren has to deal with in his older years. Perhaps all those years of juicing up took a toll on his body, or maybe him losing to Rocky led to him being ostracized in Russia.

Creed 2 hits theaters on November 21, so stay tuned to CinemaBlend for continuing coverage. Don't forget to look through our 2018 release schedule to find out what other movies are coming out for the rest of the year.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.