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Dolph Lundgren has always looked more like a Stan Winston creation than an actual flesh-and-blood human being.
For one thing, he's ridiculously tall. I'm 6'2", and I'm used to being one of the taller people in any given situation. When I met Lundgren at the recent press day for "The Expendables 2," though, I was startled to realize he stands somewhere around eight-and-a-half feet tall.
Seeing him in "Rocky IV" when it was first released, I was amazed at how much he looked like a special effect, production designed rather than cast. He remains the most visually iconic of all of Rocky's foes in the six films, and he's never really had a role that better utilized his particular talents onscreen.
He's a hard guy to cast in anything besides crazy action films, though, because he doesn't exactly radiate human warmth and kindness, and he's not a guy you give a three page monologue to as a performer. You have to cast him right, and you have to have a role that utilizes the skills he does have instead of pushing him to do things that are outside his range.
In the first "Expendables," he had a strong presence, but he was working against the team and he was underwritten in a big way. It wasn't much fun to watch. With "The Expendables 2," it seems like a major course correction has been made, and this time around, Lundgren is part of the team. It's one of the loosest performances I've seen from him in anything, and he has been given some character traits in the film that were clearly borrowed from his own real-life history, things that suddenly make him much more interesting as a character. It's very funny work, and sitting down with him to discuss it was a pleasure.
I'll have a review of the film for you soon, as well as more interviews with the cast, and I think fans of these various actors and of big crazy '80s action films should feel free to start getting excited. Verrrrrrry excited.
"The Expendables 2" opens everywhere August 17th.