Sylvester Stallone Explains Why He Originally Hated Dolph Lundgren

Rocky IV, Sylvester Stallone and Dolph Lundgren
(Image credit: (MGM))

It’s always fun to hear the first impressions friends have of each other before becoming pals. Oftentimes, the closest relationships have unexpected beginnings. Sounds like Sylvester Stallone has had a number of instances like this. His famous feud with Arnold Schwartznegger in the ‘80s and ‘90s later bloomed into a sweet friendship and apparently the same can be said about his history with his Rocky IV co-star Dolph Lundgren.

When he was casting Ivan Drago for his 1985 Rocky sequel, he explains his initial reaction to meeting the Swedish legend with these words:

Let me see if I can relate to you … I wanted in Rocky IV, I really wanted a big, horrible vicious guy, like a primitive, and I couldn’t find him. I was finding giant wrestlers and football players, and then all of the sudden, the doors open, smoke comes in, there’s light, there’s the proceeding hairline and shoulders this wide. Everything is perfect. Even his calves were coming through his clothing. He was muscular.

Sounds like Dolph Lundgren had quite the theatrical entrance into Sylvester Stallone’s life. His chiseled facial features and towering stature intimidated him, but he ended up using his dislike of him to the advantage of the movie. Ivan Drago is an iconic villain to this day (he recently returned for Creed II), cast perfectly by the Rocky filmmaker. Stallone continued:

He was like the real Terminator, and I go, ‘I hate this friggin’ guy.' He’s just too perfect, too good looking. And if I loathe him, I’m sure the world will. He’s not really, but he looks like something that’s a thousand years in the future. This is not a guy you see waiting on your table.

It’s kind of amazing to hear what Sylvester Stallone thought of him! Especially because many would probably use the same exact words when describing his colleague. Although the actor didn’t show an instant likeness to his costar, the pair ended up having a long working relationship that continues over 30 years later.

Sylvester Stallone and Dolph Lundgren have starred together in the Expendable films and another may still be on the way. After returning to bring more depth to Ivan Drago in Creed II, they may also work together again for an upcoming television series called The International. Stallone is producing the project and may direct, with Lundgren nabbing a central role.

Check out Sylvester Stallone talk about Dolph and The International on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon:

How exciting. As discussed in the interview, Sylvester Stallone is currently promoting the release of his new film, Rambo: Last Blood. The movie sees the return of another one of his iconic characters for the first time in 37 years. The movie is said to be Rambo’s final mission, as he confronts his past on a path of revenge.

Rambo: Last Blood is expected to open with $21 million this weekend against new releases Ad Astra and Downton Abbey. However, the movie is getting negative responses thus far, with CinemaBlend’s own Dirk Libbey giving the film 1.5 stars out of 5 in his review and a 31% Rotten Tomatoes score.

Rambo: Last Blood is in theaters now!

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.