Dolph Lundgren is back in the Universal Soldier world he first joined in 1992. The November 30 release of Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning also re-teams him with Jean-Claude Van Damme. But, here in 2012, Lundgren is also battling a familiar onscreen foe -- Scott Adkins.
The action superstar has one of 2012’s most memorable screen fights in Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning with Adkins, who also appeared with Lundgren in this past summer’s The Expendables 2. “He was the bad guy but I don’t get to beat him up but somebody else did -- Jason Statham,” Lundgren said of the Sylvester Stallone action fest.
Another star of that film also appears in the latest Universal Soldier, the man that Lundgren began the franchise with, Van Damme. “It’s like I’m being haunted by Jean-Claude and Scott Adkins in every movie I’m in. It’s like, 'No, he’s in it too?'"
Lundgren revealed that it wasn’t an easy sell for him to return to the Universal Soldier world. “They had to drag me out for the third one. And this one I wasn’t too happy doing it because I felt like I was repeating the same thing again,” he said.
His director persuaded him with his pure originality, showing that there would be no cinematic déjà vu for Lundgren. “Then John came up with a very clever idea that I thought it was more interesting. He made it a horror movie and it was more mysterious and smarter. It was a different type of movie. It was more evolved. And my character was just more interesting because he’s not robotic. He has more compassion for his fellow soldiers and he’s more human than he was before. For me, it was taking a step forward.”
The veteran actor admitted that action sequences are all unique, and each requires their own set of skills, but in the end, it comes down to the director and how he or she cuts it together. “They’re all difficult. You just have to have a good choreographer and you work on it for a couple of weeks. Then you have to work on it and suffer through the grueling process of rehearsing and shooting it under tough conditions,” Lundgren said.
“Then there’s the editing, and then John (Hyams, director of Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning) takes over. My job is just to get all the aches and pains shooting it… and the injuries!”
Although both his characters from his films this year are soldiers, Lundgren found fundamental differences between the two in wildly opposite films. “They’re different characters. It was fun to play Gunner Jansen in The Expendables. He’s kind of a Swedish drunk, carrying a big knife. The second Expendables, it was more of a comedic performance. Universal Soldier required a bit more dramatic performance,” Lundgren said.
He admitted though that he also tried to bring some comedy to Universal Soldier as well. “I thought it was kind of a dark story so I thought I should find those little beats where the audience can get relief from all the mayhem and murder and brains everywhere. So I thought I’d bring a little light touch.”
Lundgren often plays a military man, and his biggest reward is the response from those in the service. “For The Expendables 2, we went to the Marine Corps in San Diego. It’s great watching films like this with them because that’s their business -- killing people and blowing (expletive) up -- and they love it,” Lundgren said.
It was just announced that Nicolas Cage is joining The Expendables 3 and Lundgren is eager to get to work with such a professional. “Cage is, of course, a great actor and he will balance the cast, I’m sure. He was supposed to be in Expendables 2, but I guess it didn’t work out. He could play some more verbally driven character to balance all the guys that run around grunting and killing people, like me.”
So, what’s next for the action icon… if he had his way? “A Bollywood musical,” he said with deadpan humor.
“No, really… I’m interested in smaller movies or something different than what I’ve done as an actor. I’m looking at doing something in Europe that’s more of a period piece and there’s a small movie taking place in L.A., that’s about something else. It’s not about guys driving tanks and killing each other.”