Written by CNN Staff
Oscar-nominated actor Dolph Lundgren has opened up about the “terrifying” moment he almost died after Sylvester Stallone repeatedly punched him during filming of “Rocky IV.”
In a lengthy new interview with Us Weekly , the Swedish-born Lundgren spoke about the security breach on the 1985 film, in which he played Ivan Drago, the most powerful boxing champion of the Soviet Union.
The incident occurred in a lengthy scene where Lundgren’s Drago is seen violently knocking out Apollo Creed, played by Carl Weathers, after the latter takes revenge for his older brother, Ivan’s mentor, and kills his opponent in the ring.
At one point, shot of Lundgren is shown being punched in the face by Stallone, as actor Weathers’ Creed can be seen reaching for the punching bag behind him.
The actor recounts in his interview that while he was being loaded into a lift, Stallone came up from behind him and knocked the tube shut.
“He put a six-inch steel blade to my head and it cut open the side of my face like an egg,” said Lundgren. “I thought that was it. The bone in my cheek just pierced my head. It was a two-inch stab from the top of my cheek all the way to the bottom of my ear. And it took about 40 stitches to close it up.
“So I heard this weird crackling. I turned and I saw it go from one side of my ear to the other side of my ear, but I didn’t see what happened to my face, so I thought that he must have hit me too hard because it would not have went in at the same time. … That’s when I looked to see where the blood was coming from.”
Lundgren said the director had “freaked out” after he saw the extent of the injuries and was panicking. He had to explain to Stallone that he wasn’t severely injured.
“Ivan Drago is this giant, 6’5″ sort of Bulgarian creature, so he can’t take a punch. But Sly can. Sly’s a big guy and he can whack people. So I told him I’m good. I just need you to lower your hand a little. I’m fine.”
The actor also said he was taken by surprise when Stallone reacted so violently.
“I said, ‘Stallone, you can’t do that.’ But he wouldn’t listen,” said Lundgren. “I told him that I wouldn’t be shocked if this was one of the most horrible things that ever happened to me in my entire life. And it turned out to be more like that than I could imagine. It was terrifying.”
Lundgren said he then spent 10 days in an in-patient rehabilitation to recover from the blow. He said he never went back to Rocky IV or even visited the set for several years afterwards.
He eventually left the series during a break for a recurring role in the Robert L. Davis comedy “Romper Stomper.” He later appeared in 1987 action flick “Expendables” alongside his “Rocky IV” co-star Stallone.
During the new interview, Lundgren also spoke about the return of “Expendables” director Simon West to the franchise and Stallone’s upcoming “Creed II” as Apollo Creed’s son.
The star said that shooting this new sequel was different because of the passing of Weathers.
“It was like it was never over,” he said. “I just saw Carl a couple weeks ago, and I never saw him like this. He’s been pretty quiet. He’s pretty afraid of the limelight. There’s a few things that he’s had to face in the past few months.”
“Ivan Drago is always the bad guy, never the hero, but now in this one I think he’s the hero. He realizes the son of Rocky we’ve been watching has the same spirit as him and has a similar mission. In the end he’s the hero,” he added.