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7 things you (maybe) didn’t know about Dolph Lundgren

Dolph Lundgren is back on the big screen in the recently-released ‘Creed II’.

7 things you (maybe) didn’t know about Dolph Lundgren
Dolph Lundgren at the world premiere of "Creed II" in New York earlier this month. Photo: Andy Kropa/TT
With Lundgren reprising his most famous character, the Russian boxer Ivan Drago, we thought we’d take a closer look at his life and career. Here are seven things you might not know about the Swedish actor. 
 
 
1. He’s still alive and well. 
 
If you thought Lundgren had fallen off the face of the earth before you spotted him in the 'Creed II' trailer, rest assured that he is doing well and has continued his acting career. The 61-year-old looks like he could still step into the boxing ring and he's still steadily appearing in films. It's safe to say, however, that most of his recent roles have failed to garner much notice, except for maybe the three (soon to be four) times he’s appeared in 'The Expendables' movies alongside a bunch of other ageing action heroes. 
 
But Lundgren seems poised for another turn in the limelight. In addition to returning to the Rocky franchise, he also has a high-profile role in the upcoming 'Aquaman' film that will be released just before Christmas.
 

 
2. Swedish? I thought he was Russian. 
 
Understandable. Lundgren’s performance as the Apollo Creed-killing Drago was so iconic that a whole generation of film fans would be forgiven for believing he grew up behind the Iron Curtain. But no, he’s Swedish alright. Lundgren was born in Stockholm and remained there until he moved to his grandparents' home in the town of Nyland in Västernorrland County at the age of 13. He returned to the capital to attend KTH Royal Institute of Technology, where he obtained a degree in chemical engineering. 
 
3. Wow, he sounds smart. I thought he was just a meathead. 
 
You better believe he’s smart. After finishing at the Royal Institute, he went on to get his master’s in chemical engineering from the University of Sydney before landing a Fulbright Scholarship to MIT. Alas, that was derailed when he was spotted by 80s pop cultural icon Grace Jones, who was so impressed with his hulking frame and rugged good looks that she took him on as a bodyguard and lover (more on that later). 
 
But even early on, his physical prowess matched his mental abilities. In his early 20s, he won the European full-contact karate championships, so it’s not like he was a total bookworm. 
 
4. What was that about Grace Jones? 
 
Right, so Lundgren and Jones had a bit of a whirlwind romance that resulted in him moving to New York City in order to be with her. When she played a leading role in the 1985 James Bond film 'A View to Kill', she convinced him to try out for a bit role as a Soviet henchman. He got the part, which in turn opened the door for 'Rocky IV' and others. 
 
But spare a thought for poor old Dolph. He told the Irish Times this week that those late 80s years were awfully rough. He said it was downright “exhausting” to have group sex with all of the women Jones would bring back from the nightclub. Poor guy. 
 
5. If that sounds wild, wait until you hear this. 
 
After Lundgren’s romance with Jones petered out, he hooked up with model and actress Paula Barbieri, who’s best known for being OJ Simpson’s girlfriend at around the time of the Nicole Brown Simpson murder. 
 
In 1994, Lundgren married fellow Swede Anette Qviberg and together they have two daughters. In 2009, their home in Marbella, Spain was burglarized by three masked men. The burglars tied Qviberg and threatened her with a knife before spotting a photo of Lundgren and fleeing in terror. Sadly, Lundgren told Parade that the incident “traumatized” his wife and eldest daughter and just two years later the couple divorced.  
 
6. He hasn’t exactly been a critical darling
 
'Rocky IV' led Lundgren to a late-80s heyday that included star roles in 'Red Scorpion' (playing a Soviet soldier, naturally), 'Masters of the Universe', (portraying none other than He-Man himself) and the title role in The Punisher, a performance which was savaged as “some of the worst acting ever to disgrace the screen” by filmcritic.com founder Christopher Null. Null also called Lundgren “one of cinema’s worst duds ever”, so it’s safe to assume he’s not much of a fan. Watching the trailer, it's hard to disagree: 
 
 
With late career titles including such gems as 'Sharknado 5: Global Swarming' and ‘4Got10’ (get it?), Lundgren remains better known for his imposing 1.96m frame than his acting chops. 
 
7. But perhaps that’s about to change
 
Lundgren’s most famous role gave him a laughable total of nine lines of dialogue, the most famous of which is the meme-worthy “I must break you.” But in 'Creed II', Lundgren promises that his performance is more well-rounded. 
 
“This time it’s a character study,” he told The Irish Times. “I didn’t want to do the Drago thing again. I didn’t want to play another one-dimensional Russian villain.”
 
Early reviews of Creed II have been quite positive, so it sounds like the big Swede succeeded. If he didn’t, who would have the courage to tell him to his face? 
 

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FILM

How a Swedish film festival is offering a nurse downtime during pandemic

A front-line Swedish nurse is getting some Covid downtime with a week of private screenings of the Gothenburg film festival, in a former lighthouse off the country's west coast.

How a Swedish film festival is offering a nurse downtime during pandemic
Competition winner Lisa Enroth.

More than 12,000 candidates from 45 countries applied to watch the festival's films in almost near isolation on an island 400 kilometres (250 miles) from Stockholm.

The prize is a week viewing as many of the festival's 70 premieres as they like in a hotel in the former Pater Noster Lighthouse. But they will be in isolation and will have no access to their own computer or laptop.

READ ALSO: Decision on stricter restrictions for foreign travellers to be made quickly

The bright-red lighthouse, built on a tiny island off Sweden's west coast in 1868, is surrounded by a scattering of squat, red buildings originally built to house the lighthouse keeper's family. It can only be reached by boat or helicopter, depending on the weather.

After a series of interviews and tests, festival organisers chose emergency nurse and film buff Lisa Enroth for the prize, in keeping with the 2021 festival's theme, Social Distances.

Before boarding a small speedboat out to the island on the clear, chill winter's morning, Enroth said she had applied not only out of her love for the cinema, but also to seek respite from her hectic work as an emergency nurse during the pandemic.

“It has been hectic, so it's a nice opportunity just to be able to land and to reflect over the year,” she said.

Months working amid Covid crisis

Sweden, which has taken a light-touch approach to the pandemic compared to its neighbours, has been facing a stronger than expected second wave of the virus. So far, more than 11,500 people have died from Covid-19 across the country.

Enroth works in the emergency ward of a hospital in Skovde in central Sweden. Since the start of the pandemic, her hospital's work caring for virus patients on top of their regular workload has been intense.

Lisa Enroth on her way to the remote festival location. Photo: AFP

“We had a lot of Covid cases during this year and every patient that has been admitted to the hospital has been passing through the emergency ward,” she told journalists.

The organisers said they were surprised by the numbers of applicants for the prize but were confident they had chosen the right candidate — not only for her love of cinema.

“She has also dedicated this past year in the frontline against the Covid-19 pandemic,” the festival's creative director Jonas Holmberg said to AFP.

“That's also one of the reasons we chose her”. 

Isolated screenings

Boarding the boat dressed in a thick survival suit, Enroth sped over the calm, icy waters, jumping off in the island's tiny harbour and disappearing into her lodgings.

A screen has been set up in the lantern room at the top of the windswept island's lighthouse, offering a 360-degree view of the sea and coastline around.

Another wide screen has been set up in one of the island's buildings.

Enroth will also have a tablet and headphones if she wants to watch films elsewhere on the island, which measures just 250 metres by 150 metres.

With only one other person staying permanently on the island — a safety precaution — Enroth's only contact with the outside world will be through her video diary about the films she has viewed.

The festival's films will be shown online and two venues in Gothenburg itself will allow screenings for just one person at a time.

Holmberg, the festival's creative director, said he hoped events like these would maintain interest in the industry at a time when many screens are closed because of pandemic restrictions.

“We are longing so much to come back to the cinemas and in the meantime we have to be creative and do the things that we can to create discussion,” he told journalists.

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