Sylvester Stallone on Why He 'Hated' Dolph Lundgren IRL When Casting 'Rocky IV' (Video)

“If I loathe him, I’m sure the world will,” Sly says, recalling meeting Ivan Drago

With the best movie villains, you know how evil they are the moment you lay eyes on them. And that was exactly the case for Sylvester Stallone when he cast Dolph Lundgren for “Rocky IV.”

In fact he genuinely hated the guy he eventually cast to play Ivan Drago.

“He was like the real Terminator, and I go, ‘I hate this friggin’ guy,’” Stallone told Jimmy Fallon on “The Tonight Show” Friday. “He’s just too perfect, too good looking. And if I loathe him, I’m sure the world will. He’s not really, but he looks like something that’s a thousand years in the future. This is not a guy you see waiting on your table.”

Stallone explained how tough it was trying to find a man who could believably play Drago. Turns out 6-foot-5’ Swedish Adonises do not grow on trees.

“Let me see if I can relate to you … I wanted in ‘Rocky IV,’ I really wanted a big, horrible vicious guy, like a primitive, and I couldn’t find him,” Stallone said. “I was finding giant wrestlers and football players, and then all of the sudden, the doors open, smoke comes in, there’s light, there’s the proceeding hair line and shoulders this wide. Everything is perfect. Even his calves were coming through his closing. He was muscular.”

It’s all water under the bridge now though with Stallone and Lundgren. The two reunite as Rocky and Drago in “Creed II,” and Stallone is working on another new film with Lundgren that he hopes to direct called “The International.” And Stallone is still hanging on to the idea of yet another “Expendables” sequel as well.

Stallone’s “Rambo: Last Blood” opens in theaters Friday.

Watch the clip of Stallone on Fallon above.

All 7 Rocky Movies Ranked, From the Original to 'Creed' (Photos)

  • 1. Rocky (1976) Don’t hate the movie that beat “Taxi Driver” for the Best Picture Oscar. It’s still a knockout. Roger Ebert compared writer/star Stallone to Brando. Muhammad Ali compared him to Jesus and Tarzan. Billy Wilder sent him a typewriter. Chaplin compared “Rocky” to his “Little Tramp,” and invited him to visit. So did Elvis. John Wayne said, “Welcome to Hollywood.”


  • 2. Creed (2015) This time, Stallone plays the trainer, making longshot contender Michael B. Jordan chase chickens and shadowbox, just as his trainer Mickey (Burgess Meredith) did to him. Sadly, he does not say, “You’re gonna eat lightning and crap thunder,” but lots of the Rocky scenes you like are back in fresher form. Plus, Jordan and cowriter/director Ryan Coogler prove “Fruitvale Station” was no fluke. I’m not saying Stallone’s an Oscar contender, but pundits like Jenelle Riley are.


  • 3. Rocky II (1979) Draggy, but that last half hour is killer. When Muhammad Ali saw Carl Weathers’ trash-talking Apollo Creed, he said, “That’s me, all right.”


  • 4. Rocky Balboa (2006) Nobody was asking for a “Rocky” reboot, but Stallone entertainingly gets back to the sensitive side he showed in the first, quasi-neorealist “Rocky.” Surprisingly poignant, and it proves Marilyn Monroe’s point about aging: “Gravity gets us all in the end.” After this, he promised no more “Rocky” sequels. “What am I gonna fight, arthritis? A clogged artery?” The film also contains what Stallone wants on his tombstone: “It ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”


  • 5. Rocky III (1982) The original Rocky teabag had one last dip in it, largely thanks to rising star Mr. T, who first uttered “I pity the fool” as Rocky’s daunting opponent. Survivor, challenged to top the fight-scene temp music (“Another One Bites the Dust”), wrote “Eye of the Tiger” in under four days — same time it took Stallone to write the first draft of Rocky — and grabbed the Grammy.


  • 6. Rocky IV (1985) It’s hard to say what’s the scariest here, Stallone’s ‘roid-raging Rooskie rival Dolph Lundgren, his squeeze Brigitte Nielsen, Burt Young’s robot (which really worked) or the movie’s right-wing mania. Also notable is how the film is the culmination in the series’  ever-more rapid editing, given the shortened average length of each shot: “Rocky” (8.25 seconds ASL), “Rocky II” (5.6), “Rocky III” (3.7), “Rocky IV” (2.16).


  • 7. Rocky V (1990) In this one, poor Rocky finds Dolph Lundgren gave him brain damage. The film is a “Rocky” zombie staggering through the motions. Repeat viewings could short your brain’s connoisseurship circuits.


TheWrap critic Tim Appelo offers his definitive ranking of all seven movies in the saga of Sylvester Stallone’s world-weary boxer Rocky Balboa

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