Sylvester Stallone is the ultimate Hollywood tough guy – but co-star (and on-screen nemesis) Dolph Lundgren says there are also big brains behind the brawn.
The Rocky foes have reunited 33 years after they first met in the ring in Rocky IV – when Lundgren put Stallone in hospital during an on-set fight – for the latest spin-off, Creed II.
Lundgren, who is back as Ivan Drago, told Sky News he has enjoyed working with Stallone once again, describing him as one of the most intelligent people in the business.
“He’s a good guy, he’s a very clever man, and funny and witty,” he said.
“You know, because he plays these characters who don’t talk much… people think he’s that way, but he isn’t, he’s a very smart guy. One of the smartest in Hollywood.
“You don’t create three franchises – Rocky, Rambo and The Expendables – by being stupid, that’s for sure.
“There’s him and there’s maybe… who else? Maybe Spielberg has done stuff like that… Lucas… He’s up there.”
This is the second chapter in the Creed story, following the first Rocky spin-off in 2015.
The film comes eighth in the Rocky franchise, which first came to life in the early 1970s, when Stallone – who was a jobbing actor down to his last $ 100 at the time – wrote the screenplay while waiting for his acting break.
When the script was finally picked up by producers, he then had to fight to play the lead role.
His hard work paid off, and he took home the Oscar for best picture in 1976.
The movie has gone on to be considered one of the best sports genre films of all time.
Speaking about the infamous Rocky IV punch, Lundgren joked: “I did hit him, I think… but they said it was me, I just don’t think it was me. I think it was an insurance scam or something.”
Lundgren also spoke about the differences between Creed II and Stallone’s The Expendables films, which he also starred in.
“I’ve done five films with him,” Lundgren said. “This was a bit different because now we’re on opposite sides, like in the first one.
“Then we did three Expendables, a little more cartoonish and we’re just cracking a few jokes and firing guns everywhere and running around, on boats or whatnot, helicopters… here we have scenes where we sit down across each other on a table and have a three-page dialogue scene.
“It was more being a fellow actor with another actor.”
Florian Munteanu, who stars as Ivan’s son Viktor Drago, told Sky News it was a “great experience” and “an honour to work with legends” Lundgren and Stallone, as well as the “new generation like Mike [Michael B Jordan, who reprises his role as protagonist Adonis Creed] and Tess [Tessa Thompson, who again plays his girlfriend, singer-songwriter Bianca].
“I was very eager to watch them and learn from them, to evolve myself and improve myself as an actor and a person,” he said.
:: Creed II is out in cinemas now