Dolph Lundgren: life and career of the Rocky actor

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Made famous by his role as Ivan Drago in Rocky IV, the Swedish actor, director and martial artist is a permanent presence in the world of action films. Find out all about Dolph Lundgren’s life, his academic and sporting successes, as well as his career in the film industry.

Dolph Lundgren
Actor, director and martial artist

The actor, director and karate athlete Dolph Lundgren was born Hans Lundgren on 3 November 1957 in Stockholm. He worked as a chemical engineer, took part in the world karate championships several times and made his breakthrough as an actor as Ivan Drago in Rocky IV. He later played a particularly large number of roles in action films and began directing films himself.

Born3 November 1957 in Stockholm
Known fromRocky IV (1985), The Expendables (2010)



Dolph Lundgren (originally Hans Lundgren) was born on 3 November 1957 in Stockholm, as the son of an engineer and a language teacher. His father is said to have abused him as a child, which led to him growing up with his grandparents in the central Swedish village of Nyland.

At the grammar school he attended, Ådalsskolan in Kramfors, he was the first pupil to graduate with the highest possible marks. As a result, the school now awards the Dolph Lundgren Scholarship, worth the equivalent of around 2500 euros.


Dolph Lundgren Education

After leaving school, Dolph attended the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, where he trained as a chemical engineer.

His good performance earned him scholarships to study abroad, for example at Washington State University, Clemson University in South Carolina and the University of Sydney. He graduated from the latter with a master’s degree in chemical engineering.

Private life

In 1980, Dolph Lindgren married Anette Qviberg, with whom he has two daughters, Ida and Greta, who are now adults. However, Dolph and Anette got divorced in 2011. In June 2020, he announced his engagement to Norwegian Emma Krokdal, who is 38 years younger than him and whom he married in 2023.

Sporting successes

Dolph Lundgren has been active in sport since his early years. As a child he played ice hockey and took up judo at the age of 16, but switched to karate a year later. His first competition at international level was the World Open Karate Tournament in Tokyo in 1979.

Dolph Lundgren Sporting Successes

At the beginning of the 1980s, he won several tournaments, such as the British Open and the Australian Open and also ran his own karate club. Since then, he has taken part in three world championships. His style is Kyokushin Kaikan, which practises full contact fighting.

Film career

Dolph Lundgren’s breakthrough role in the film industry was as the Soviet boxer Ivan Drago in Rocky IV. He was initially rejected for this role in 1985.

However, after Sylvester Stallone saw a photo of him, he got the part after all. During filming, he injured Sylvester Stallone, who had to be taken to the emergency room.

The role made him very popular with film fans and was just the beginning of Dolph’s film career. After a role as He-man in Masters of the Universe, he appeared in over 70 films.

Most of which fall into the action genre. Other well-known roles include playing the mercenary Gunnar Jensen in The Expendables, where he starred alongside Sylvester Stallone again, who had given him his first role as the director of Rocky IV, and the lead role in The Punisher.

Filmography (selection)

  • James Bond 007 – A View to a Kill (1985)
  • Rocky IV (1985)
  • Masters of the Universe (1987)
  • The Punisher (1989)
  • Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991)
  • Universal Soldier (1992)
  • The Shooter (1995)
  • Agent Red (2000)
  • Missionary Man (2007)
  • Icarus (2009)
  • The Expendables (2010)
  • Kindergarten Cop 2 (2016)
  • Black Water (2018)
  • Creed 2 (2018)
  • Aquaman (2018)

New projects: what is Dolph Lundgren currently working on?

In 2022 Lundgren was part of the film Minions: The Rise of The Gru, the sequel to the Illumination production of Minions (2015), as well as Section 8. One year later, in 2023, he appeared in The Best Man, The Expendables 4 and Aquaman: The Lost Kingdom. His latest project is Wanted Man, released in 2024.

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