Dolph Lundgren had only featured in two films prior to being cast as He-Man in Cannon Films’ big screen adaptation of the popular toy line, Masters of the Universe.
It helped that one of those roles came as Ivan Drago in Rocky IV but, even so, it was a big step up for the Swedish actor. Ultimately, Lundgren’s struggles would be nothing compared to the wider problems of the production, with budget restrictions ultimately hindering the film despite the presence of a pre-fame Courtney Cox.
30 years on from the film’s release, however, and it’s emerged as something of a cult classic – here are 11 things you never knew about Masters of the Universe.
Contrary to popular belief, Masters of the Universe was adapted from the He-Man cartoon series but actually inspired by the action figure line. Producer Ed Pressman had already purchased the rights to make a movie, based on the toys, long before the cartoon aired.
Early in production, Mattel mandated that He-Man was not allowed to kill anyone on screen in the movie. To get round this potentially tricky problem, Skeletor was given an army of robot soldiers that were previously not present in the cartoon or toy line.
Dolph Lundgren was not fluent in English at the time of filming for Masters of the Universe, and phonetically sounded out all of his lines in the film. The director had originally planned to have all of Lundgren’s lines dubbed over in post-production but that plan was scrapped after he ran over schedule.
Frank Langella played Skeletor in the film and ranks it among his favourite roles. He actually took the part because his son was a huge He-Man fan and often ran around the family home shouting “By the power of Grayskull!”
Langella wrote several of his own lines in the film, including the, quite simply sublime, “Tell me about the loneliness of good, He-Man. Is it equal to the loneliness of evil?”
Megan Foster, who played Evil-Lyn, suffered several injuries as a result of her costume, which weighed 45 Ibs. She struggled to breathe in the outfit, was unable to sit down and sustained bruises to the groin as a result of the costume’s hefty breastplate.
Tony Carrol, who played Beast Man, also had a tough time of things. His character’s prosthetic teeth were so large, he was unable to close his mouth when wearing them. As a result, the chin piece inside his mask was regularly left full of saliva, which weighed the costume down further.
Lundgren was offered the chance to reprise the role of He-Man in a planned sequel but turned it down, describing the first film as his “lowest point as an actor”. Unknown Laird Hamilton, who was a surfer, was given the role in his place but the film never ended up getting made.
Toy company Mattel actually ran a contest for fans, offering the winner a role in the film. Richard Szponder was eventually handed the prize and featured in the film as “Pigboy” the character that hands Skeletor his staff upon his return from Earth.
The film is one of the first to ever feature a post-credit sequence. In it, Skeletor returns from the deep to tell viewers “I’ll be back!” He never came back.
In the proposed sequel, He-Man would have returned to Earth disguised as an NFL quarterback. In the script, Skeletor has already returned to Earth disguised as industrialist Aaron Dark and has destroyed much of the planet before He-Man can stop him. The film would end with Earth as a post-nuclear wasteland.
Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.