10 Badass Facts About Dolph Lundgren!

Dolph Lundgren may play a muscled up bad guy on the big screen, but there’s plenty of interesting behind-the-scenes facts that fans just don’t know.

Yes, he played one of the most iconic ’80s villains, but there’s much more to Dolph Lundgren than the Soviet Apollo Creed killer Ivan Drago. He’s fit, he’s handsome, he’s charming, and damn it, he’s our favorite Expendable. He speaks several languages, holds a chemical engineering degree and earned a scholarship to attend MIT. These are 11 badass facts about Lundgren that you most likely don’t know.

Dolph Lundgren is Highly Educated With a High IQ, but No PhD

Don’t be fooled by the 250 lbs. of muscle he carried around as He-Man in 1987’s Masters of the Universe. Dolph Lundgren is practically a genius. The actor, writer, director, and producer was born Hans Lundgren, the son of a language teacher and an engineer for the Swedish government. He graduated from high school with straight As, studied engineering at Washington State University, served his mandatory year in the Swedish Marine Corps, earned a degree in chemical engineering from the Royal Institute of Technology, a master’s from the University of Sydney, and a Fulbright Scholarship to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, although he left M.I.T. after just two weeks in order to pursue a career in the movies. As he told Maxim:

“I decided I didn’t want to shake test tubes for the rest of my life,” he told Maxim in 2008. “So I quit school and became an unemployed starving actor for a while.”

Don’t expect him to brag about that big brain of his. When asked if it’s true, as rumored, that he has an I.Q. of 160, he answered, “I’m not that smart. I’m smart enough to get a few scholarships. But I’ve gotten hit in the head too many times since then.”

Dolph Lundgren Speaks Six Languages, but Not Russian

Warner Bros. Television

No, Russian isn’t one of them. Lundgren is a brilliantly multilingual actor who speaks English and his native Swedish fluently, as well as a good amount of German. He can also speak a bit of Spanish, French, and Japanese — at least enough to order drinks and say thank you before kicking some serious butt.

Lundgren’s “Feud” with Jean-Claude Van Damme

TriStar Pictures

Fans of the celebrated action stars were shocked when the duo appeared to engage in a heated argument at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival, during which Lundgren and Van Damme began to push and shove one another before being separated by their respective bodyguards. The incident was captured on camera and the altercation was front-and-center on the steps of the Festival Hall, where onlookers watched in surprise at the scuffle; it didn’t take long until the “fight” made headlines.

While the world was questioning what caused the disagreement, the movie stars had the last laugh, as the “feud” was simply a publicity stunt concocted by Van Damme in an effort to stir up attention for their upcoming military sci-fi action flick Universal Soldier. The plan proved successful, as the film went on to earn $95 million at the box office and launched the popular Van Damme action franchise.

Dolph Lundgren is a Karate Champion

Alamy / WENN

He isn’t faking it for the movies. Lundgren started training in the martial art of karate at age 10. By 19, he was part of the Swedish squad at the world championships in Japan for full-contact karate. “You had to be a brown belt, but I was just a green belt, so my instructor gave me one to fake my way into the fight,” he told Maxim. “I thought I was going to get killed.” He won his first two fights by knockouts. In the early ’80s, he won two European Championships and the Australian Heavyweight tournament.

Australia, Grace Jones, and James Bond


While studying in Australia, Dolph worked as a bouncer in the Kings Cross nightclub scene. He met pop star Grace Jones while working security for her gig at the Capital Theatre, eventually joining her personal security detail. The pair fell in love and relocated to New York City together. (In 2012, Dolph told Men’s Health that he walked the streets of early ’80s NYC strapped with two guns for protection, one of them in an ankle holster.)

Jones introduced him to famous friends like Andy Warhol. She played a villain in A View to a Kill, the final James Bond movie to star Roger Moore, and helped Lundgren land his first role. He played a henchman, which led to his big breakthrough as Ivan Drago in Rocky IV (produced by the same company). He has called Sydney, Australia “the catalyst” for his career.

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