December 19, 2010
Dolph Lundgren at the Soho Hotel, London. Photograph: Karen Robinson for the Observer
I became an athlete, an actor and a good fighter because of my father. He used to beat me and my mother up quite a bit. He was a very strict military officer who had problems with his career, so he'd take it out on us. That experience formed me.
A lot of fighters come from abusive backgrounds – I think it makes you want to be able to hit somebody back.
It took me a long time to embrace my childhood experiences with my father and use the emotion in my acting roles.
Most people don't realise that I'm quite intelligent. I studied chemical engineering in Sydney, Australia, and then went on to a scholarship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I decided to become an athlete and actor because I figured life as a chemical engineer would be less fulfilling.
I think military service is something all young men should do. The discipline and physical challenge of the Swedish Marines Corps were necessary for me.
Getting the role in Rocky IV changed my life. Up until then I was just a Swedish kid who hit a punchbag and shook test tubes; suddenly I was a movie star and Grace Jones's boyfriend.
I'm pretty self-centred. Having my two daughters forced me to care about something more than myself.
Hollywood can be difficult when you're young. I began to live up to people's expectations of me instead of being myself. You're seen on film and there's this idea that you should be a certain way, and you start to live up to that. After I met my wife I consciously distanced myself from LA as a way of getting grounded. Now there's a distance between my public persona and the real me.
I cry a lot. It makes me feel good. I had a bit of a cry this morning, in fact. It was the feeling of loss and not being around my family that set me off.
I'd love to play a non-action role, if somebody was dumb enough to offer it to me.
I've come full circle. Doing The Expendables has given me exposure that I haven't had in 15 years. Sly [Stallone] knows how to direct me – and scare me a little bit, too. And now I have more opportunities than I did six months ago. There's a few more wrinkles around my eyes, but that's a good thing.
I'm stereotyped as a beefcake, but I think of myself as an intellectual. I am a beefcake in some ways: I like to work out and I'm fairly simple, but I'm also analytical, contemplative and sensitive – people don't see that.
I'll always love Grace [Jones]. Once you've been in love with someone they're always inside you. My time with her was nuts. It was four years of mayhem.
I still do all my own fighting scenes, as I'm usually better than the stunt guys.
It's tempting to use steroids. I tried it when I was much younger, but you're cheating your body, and coming off them is just awful.
I crashed a Ferrari once. I was very lucky to get out alive because it was a smoking wreck.
I admire Clint Eastwood. He wasn't taken seriously as an actor, especially in Europe at the start of his career. He now has the respect he always deserved.
I was freshly arrived in New York when Andy Warhol put me in his magazine. I ended up doing pictures in a pair of shorts. I found out years later that Andy and the photographer had a bet to see who could get the model to take all his clothes off. They were quite keen to get my shorts off, but I managed to keep them on.
I don't mind getting older. People only really listen to you once you reach your 50s.
My wife and I have been together for 16 years. You have to be best friends, because the physical attraction comes and goes.
The memory of you is all that's left of you when you die, so I'd like to be remembered as a generous, loving human being when my time comes.
I get depressed if I can't work out.