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Ludmilla Drago in Rocky IV

In a surprise cameo, actress Brigitte Nielsen appeared in last year’s Creed II, reprising her role as Ludmilla Drago from Rocky IV. The years made Ludmilla even colder as she had abandoned her husband and son and at the film’s end, left ringside when it became clear that Viktor was going to lose. For Brigitte Nielsen, she had to play Viktor’s unsympathetic mother while being super pregnant herself, as she explained:

It actually helped me a lot, having four grown-up boys and having been through a divorce when my youngest boy was eight. I had a 10-year-old, a 14-year-old, and an 18-year-old. ... I was making that choice to leave again — it was a hell physically and emotionally because Ludmilla was in me. Of course it was tough, but it was overwhelming and it was purifying at the same time. I don't know why, but it’s so magical to be pregnant. I had so much inner energy, and thank god again that I’m almost 6’1 tall, because I was 7-and-a-half months pregnant and you couldn’t tell. I could still get away with it. But that was because of my height; had I been 5’2, it would show in a different way, obviously. But it was amazing, and very emotional.

Brigitte Nielsen wasn’t just pregnant while filming Creed II, she was super pregnant. As in third trimester, 7-and-a-half months pregnant. But as we’ve heard, the actress was excited to come back to the franchise and like the stone cold badass she was in Rocky IV and Red Sonja, Brigitte Nielsen was still up for the challenge of returning to the character that she first inhabited over 30 years ago.

It sounds like hiding her pregnancy onscreen wasn’t a major issue either because, as Brigitte Nielsen told The Hollywood Reporter, she wasn’t showing so much that her condition was super obvious. That meant that she could get away with appearing in the film without needing to make her character pregnant or using major movie magic make her look not pregnant. She attributes this to her over 6’ height. Apparently that made her pregnancy less noticeable than if she was not Amazonian in stature.

Despite being very pregnant with her fifth child during the filming of Creed II, that didn’t slow down Brigitte Nielsen who enjoyed the experience of being pregnant, and was full of life and energy to return to the character of Ludmilla Drago. It fits, because I don’t imagine former Soviet swimmer Ludmilla would let pregnancy slow her down either.

Brigitte Nielsen also brought some real-life experience as a mother into her role as Ludmilla. Having multiple children and having been through divorces like her character in the film, it was a tough emotional experience for the actress to play the callous character, a trophy wife whose investment in other people, even her own family, extends only as far as they can provide her with status and luxury.

Despite being nervous to reunite with ex-husband Sylvester Stallone, Brigitte Nielsen’s return in Creed II was a boon for the film. More than just a fun cameo, it just added further connective tissue between Creed II and Rocky IV and the two franchises. The return of Ludmilla and her story in the film also added some motivation and pathos to Viktor and Ivan’s story. Like Rocky and Adonis, Ivan and Viktor were real people who had real struggles, they weren't just some cudgel of an oppressive regime.

The same story could have still taken place without Brigitte Nielsen, with the dialogue explaining her absence. But by appearing in the film we were able to see who Ludmilla was now and that in his hour of need, she abandoned her son. In that Viktor and Ivan learn to live without her and for themselves.

Creed II is now available on digital, Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD. Check out our 2019 Release Schedule to keep track of all the biggest movies headed your way this year.

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