Dolph Lundgren was born as Hans Lundgren in Stockholm, Sweden, to Sigrid Birgitta (Tjerneld), a language teacher, and Karl Johan Hugo Lundgren, an engineer and economist for the Swedish government. He lived in Stockholm until the age of 13, when he moved in with his grandparents in Nyland, Ångermanland, Sweden. Despite an early interest in music and the fine arts, Dolph decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and pursue an Engineering degree. After having completed his military service, he enrolled at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm.
It was in the military when Dolph first came in contact with the martial arts. Five years later, he had become a world-class competitor in Japanese Karate and was deeply involved with a discipline that was to become an important part of his life. After graduating High School, Dolph spent considerable time studying in the United States and abroad on various academic scholarships. He attended Washington State University and Clemson University in South Carolina. In 1982, he received a scholarship to complete his Masters Degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Sydney, Australia. In 1983, he was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, one of the world’s top engineering schools.
However, that same year, he decided to move to New York City and take up acting. He changed his forename to Dolph. He started studying drama at the Warren Robertson Theatre Workshop in Manhattan, not knowing how quickly his life was about to change. His film debut came in A View to a Kill (1985). However, it was his performance in Rocky IV (1985) later that year that definitely got him noticed. After a 9-month audition process among 5,000 hopefuls, he was cast opposite writer-director Sylvester Stallone, as his Russian opponent, “Ivan Drago”. Following the success of Rocky IV (1985), Lundgren moved to Los Angeles and has since starred in more than 30 feature films.
Lundgren portrayed the classic action-heroic lead in such films as Gary Goddard’s Masters of the Universe (1987), Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991) co-starring Brandon Lee and Blackjack (1998), by Hong-Kong action legend, John Woo. Lundgren has also continued to turning in memorable performances as the main adversary to other action-stars, most notably in Universal Soldier (1992) opposite Jean-Claude Van Damme, directed by Roland Emmerich, as well as Robert Longo’s Johnny Mnemonic (1995) opposite Keanu Reeves. In February 2004, Lundgren directed his first feature film, the thriller The Defender (2004), in which he also starred. In 2005, he directed and starred in yet another feature, The Russian Specialist (2005) (a.k.a “The Russian Specialist”).
In January 2006, he finished principal photography of The Final Inquiry (2006), a joint Italian/American/Spanish co-production, directed by Giulio Base, appearing opposite, among others, Daniele Liotti, Max von Sydow and F. Murray Abraham. In 2006, Lundgren starred in Diamond Dogs (2007), a Chinese/American co-production filmed on location in Mongolia. In 2007, he directed a modern day western shot in Texas, Missionary Man (2007). In 2009, he completed two new directorial efforts, the action-packed Command Performance (2009), which showcases Lundgren’s longtime musical talents as a drummer; and the neo-noir thriller The Killing Machine (2010). Lundgren also reunited with co-stars Jean-Claude Van Damme and Sylvester Stallone for Universal Soldier: Regeneration (2009) and the highly anticipated action blockbuster, The Expendables (2010).
Lundgren managed to not let his Hollywood career stand in the way of his athletic background. He has been awarded his Third Degree Black Belt by the World Karate Organization in Tokyo. His accomplishments include being the Captain of the Swedish National Karate Team, as well as a Champion of the Swedish, European and Australian Heavyweight Division titles. Lundgren still regularly performs Karate exhibitions at international tournaments worldwide. In addition, he was selected by the U.S. Olympic Committee to serve as Team Leader of the 1996 U.S. Olympic Pentathlon Team during the Atlanta Games. He is actively involved in promoting the image of this sport. His production company, Thor Pictures, is developing several projects in which he will produce, star and/or direct. He is also a founding member of “Group of Eight”, a New York theater group started in 1994.
Lundgren has reportedly been working on a fitness book and sports wear line for men, the creation and launch of a new eponymous brand, a licensing, media and publishing program, and the development of future entertainment and media projects. Lundgren was married to Anette Qviberg-Lundgren, an interior decorator and fashion designer, until their divorce in 2011. They had two daughters together.
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