Dolph Lundgren made his name as Sylvester Stallone’s Soviet destroyer, Ivan Drago, in Rocky IV but came surprisingly close to turning down the chance to reprise his signature role in Creed 2.
Lundgren is set to return Drago for the hotly anticipated follow-up to Creed, which is due to arrive in cinemas on November 21st.
There are scores to be settled too, with Michael B. Jordan’s Adonis Creed out for payback against Drago, the man who killed his father, Carl Weathers’ Apollo Creed, in Rocky IV.
Adonis won’t be going up against Drago in the ring though with his son, Viktor (Florian Munteanu), set to go toe-to-toe with the younger Creed in a fight that could have fatal consequences for all involved.
It’s fast shaping up to be essential viewing for fans of Rocky, Lundgren and Stallone, who will also return as Creed’s trainer, Rocky Balboa.
Brigitte Nielsen is also thought to be returning as Ivan’s wife, Ludmilla Vobet Drago.
But Lundgren has revealed to Cinema Blend that he was initially hesitant about the character returning for the sequel amid concerns about how Drago might be perceived by viewers.
“It was a bit strange. It’s a bit weird. Because at first, I didn’t want to do it because I thought it would kind of sad,” he said.
“I didn’t want to hurt that image because it’s like an iconic character that people, especially people who work out, really look up to this guy.”
Ultimately, Lundgren was convinced to sign up for the film after reading the script for Creed 2, written by Stallone along with Cheo Hodari Coker.
Lundgren explained during a Q&A at Comic-Con Portugal (via Look Mag):
“…the script was really good and I get a chance to show another side of the same man 35 years later, and more of a damaged, struggling side. I used some of my own life that I’ve been through the last 35 years in this character, so it’s kind of full circle. So it turned out to be a really great experience for me.
“A real dramatic challenge, but also a great experience to look back at my own career the way he looks back at his career as a fighter. There’re some parallels that I think are kind of unique. Because usually, you don’t revisit the character 35 years later. Somebody else will play it. You get a new James Bond. Except, of course, Stallone has done it, so I guess I’m in good company there.”
And while the film is set to focus on Adonis and Viktor’s in-the-ring battle, don’t rule out the idea of Ivan and Rocky trading blows just yet.
Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.