Action Star Dolph Lundgren on Health, Happiness & Living The Good Life

Action star Dolph Lundgren may be known mostly for uttering classic lines like ‘I will break you’ (as Ivan Drago in ‘Rocky IV’) and blowing stuff up in action flicks, but there is more to him than that. Few may know that, in contrast to his macho man image, Lundgren has a Master’s Degree in Chemical Engineering from the Stockholm Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. Graduating at the head of his class, he was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to attend MIT, one of the world’s top engineering schools. Plans to move to Boston, however, got derailed when he met a woman by the name of Grace Jones, fell in love and decided to move to New York City with her instead. The rest is, as they say, history.

Lundgren and Grace Jones in 1983, photographed by Albert Watson.

Lundgren and Grace Jones in 1983, photographed by Albert Watson.

At the end of November, Lundgren received an Eliason Merit Award, given by the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce to “individuals who have contributed significantly toward strengthening relations between the United States and Sweden in the areas of commerce, culture, science and the arts.” Lundgren, famous for roles in films like ‘Rocky IV,’ ‘Universal Solider’ and ‘The Expendables,’ have had a sort of complicated relationship with his homeland in the past, never really being taken seriously or receiving credit for his success in Hollywood. Now, the tides are turning and he is more popular than ever, partly thanks to a few well-received television appearances. Accepting the award, he expressed concern that maybe he did not deserve it. “All I’ve been doing for the past 25 years,” he said “is blow shit up.”

Lundgren, as we are used to seeing him, in Expendables 2, probably getting ready to blow something up.

Lundgren, as we are used to seeing him, in Expendables 2, probably getting ready to blow something up.

I got a chance to do an impromptu interview with Lundgren at the event (which can be viewed above or here).

The first thing I was curious about was his personal approach to health and wellness. “It involves a little bit of discipline,” he says. “You want to try and stay on the right schedule with your food and your training and try to balance things. Don’t drink too much, just a litte bit. Don’t be too strict with your diet — you want to allow yourself a little bit of some dessert and some fun. You don’t want to train too hard so you get beat up or get injuries — you have to feel it out. For me, I work out about four-five times a week, that’s my basis of being fit.”

An accomplished master of martial arts, Lundgren has been captain of the Swedish National Karate Team and an individual champion of the Swedish, European and Australian heavyweight full contact divisions. At 55, he maintains an impressive level of fitness and has a third degree black belt in karate.

So what about nutrition? I have to ask, does he drink green juice? “My girlfriend mixes some stuff up, tomato juice, cucumbers or whatever it is, a little bit of that.” Lundgren is currently developing an eponymous line of organic supplements, in collaboration with partners in Sweden. “It will probably be launched next year,” he says.

Goodlifer's Editor-in-Chief, Johanna Björk, with Dolph Lundgren in Los Angeles.

Goodlifer’s Editor-in-Chief, Johanna Björk, with Dolph Lundgren in Los Angeles.

For someone who’s been immersed in the world of the rich and infamous for a long time — living with Grace Jones, hanging out with icons like Andy Warhol and Keith Haring, working as a bouncer at legendary nightclub The Limelight, and partying at Studio 54 — he remains impressively grounded. A traditional Swedish upbringing and good values have served him well in the movie business and continue to keep him grounded. “You have a certain perspective on life, being from a smaller country. Swedes are all about balance, not working too much, but having some kind of balance where you can enjoy the small moments and also try to achieve things at the same time. I think it’s a good way to live a long and healthy life.”

He lives on the beach in Malibu and it seems like Lundgren’s figured out a great recipe for living the good life. He agrees: “I’m very happy. I love LA, I love New York too, but I like the mix between Europe and Los Angeles — it’s a perfect balance.”

About author
A designer by trade, Johanna has always had a passion for storytelling. Born and raised in Sweden, she's lived and worked in Miami, Brooklyn and, currently, Ojai, CA. She started Goodlifer in 2008 to offer a positive outlook for the future and share great stories, discoveries, thoughts, tips and reflections around her idea of the Good Life. Johanna loves kale, wishes she had a greener thumb, and thinks everything is just a tad bit better with champagne (or green juice).
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