Interview: Dolph Lundgren from “Missionary Man”
Interview: Dolph Lundgren from “Missionary Man”

Film Critic Mike Massie recently had a chance to sit down with well-known action film star Dolph Lundgren, to chat about martial arts, “Rocky,” and his newest film “Missionary Man,” which hits DVD on January 22nd, 2008.

 

Mike Massie: I was wondering if you would have much of an accent, but it doesn’t sound like you do.

Dolph Lundgren: Just a bit.

MM: Have you had time to keep up with your martial arts with all the moviemaking you’ve been involved with?

DL: Yes. As a matter of fact I think I train now more than I have in the last couple of years. I’m getting a bit older, so I appreciate being in good shape – recently I’ve had a Bulgarian kickboxing champion sparring partner. I’ve been fortunate enough to get beat up by him. I try to stay in shape with weights and cardio, and I like to do cross country skiing when I get a chance. That’s one of my favorites.

MM: Action films are a guilty pleasure of mine – I grew up with them and they’re my favorite genre. In Missionary Man I saw hints of Clint Eastwood’s Pale Rider and a complex vigilante theme, especially as can be seen in The Man with No Name trilogy – have you watched those?

DL: You seem to know your movies. I really like Pale Rider, and there’s one called Billy Jack. I like a lot of Eastwood’s pictures. They are deceivingly simple.

MM: Action films are great escapism. It’s always fun to see cool characters kicking ass.

DL: Oh yeah – I know!

MM: I heard that you pick up a few scars during each of your films – are there any funny or crazy things that happened on the set of Missionary Man?

DL: I decided not to have a stunt double because it’s expensive, and everything went well. The bike we used was an old Harley from the 70s and it was rebuilt and it didn’t run very well. Sometimes the handlebars wouldn’t even turn, so we had a couple of instances where we’d be shooting a fight outside the hotel. There were a bunch of bystanders, and I’d make a turn on the bike but it wouldn’t turn and I was heading toward 6-7 folks looking at me thinking this was part of the movie. The engine wouldn’t cut out so I had to lay it down and I hit my foot pretty bad. That was the scar for Missionary Man.

MM: The sacrifices for entertainment right?

DL: What we do for art.

MM: In the film it appears that religion is being praised and condemned all at the same time through the use of a bible toting protagonist who uses lethal violence. Are you religious at all and how do you feel about violence in films?

DL: I’m not that religious. I like the history and tradition of religion. It has a part in my life although I don’t go to church every week. Violence is part of human nature. There was a lot of violence around before films came about – I think violence is a part of our human experience and a part of art – pictures, paintings and films too. In this picture I was trying not to glamorize it too much, and just show it as brutal. If you’ve got to stand up to violent people, there’s only one way of doing it. You’ve got to be as bad as they are, or worse.

MM: You wrote, directed and starred in Missionary Man. Do you like doing all those roles or is there one you favor over another?

DL: As a director you kind of play producer too, keeping track of budget and things. I really enjoy all aspects. Creating the characters and the story is really satisfying and the shooting is more difficult – trying to make something happen that you saw in your mind’s eye is not always that easy, so that can be a little frustrating. I guess I enjoy the directing the most, and writing second. The acting I’ve done so many times that it’s not as exciting as the other two.

MM: How much control did you have over the final cut of the film?

DL: I had quite a bit of control. They liked my cut over at Screen Gems. They had a few really good notes and we implemented those and things went pretty smoothly. We weren’t fighting over anything. It was mostly scheduling – there were only twenty-four 1st unit days and three 2nd unit days. That’s on the low end for action movies. It means you have to work very hard and efficiently.

MM: What’s your take on comedies, dramas, and horror films? Do you have any plans to do other genres?

DL: I like action because you have a chance to do drama and romance in there if you want to. A transition for me can be done in time. A period peace or war movie with action in it – but mainly drama because of the circumstances – that would be fun.

MM: One Rocky question for you, although you’re probably sick of those.

DL: No not at all.

MM: Did Stallone try to get you involved with Rocky Balboa when he was working on that film?

DL: No he didn’t. I don’t think I would have fit into the story unless I was in the audience. Maybe if I was recently released from a Siberian prison camp or something – I don’t know! I was there for the opening and he did a good job.

MM: I read that you have a degree in Chemical Engineering. Did you ever use that or did you know afterward that you wanted to be an actor?

DL: No. That’s how I came over here, with scholarships. I came over from Sweden and started in a couple of universities. I got sidetracked into acting and it worked out pretty well, and then I got sidetracked into directing. I didn’t have a conscience plan – I’m not one of those people that sit around and plan my life that much – maybe I should. Chemical Engineering… it’s good that I’m able to help my kids with homework, mix a few drinks and talk to the pyrotechnics guys on the set.

MM: I heard you also play the drums (something I myself enjoy on occasion).

DL: I was very much into the arts when I was a kid – painting, drawing and playing the drums, theater. That’s what came out later. When I finally made a decision that’s what I got into. A motto of mine is to get the most out of life. Try as many things as you can.

MM: In Missionary Man “Ryder” looks out for the defenseless citizens. In real life have you gotten into situations like that?

DL: Not really. In martial arts you end up in situations where within the confines of the dojo you have to stick up for other weaker members. Teach people a lesson. It hasn’t happened to me in real life. I would if I had to.

MM: What can you tell us about what you’re currently working on and what you might have planned for the near future?

DL: I’m going to do an acting gig in the spring and have a cushy lifestyle in my trailer for awhile. I’m writing a script right now about an assassin because I had an idea of playing a bad guy. I’ve done it a few times and people seem to like seeing me as a heavy onscreen, so the main character of the piece is a criminal. I like those kinds of movies because it’s not all black and white. It’s not by the numbers especially if the bad guy is likeable. Hopefully I’ll direct that this year.

MM: I’m looking forward to it! Thanks so much for speaking with me today!

DL: Thank you!