Dolph Lundgren, the Swedish import who has become a super-macho action star, studied at Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology and holds a degree in engineering from the University of Sydney.
But he sure didn’t leave his heart behind in a test tube.
“Chemistry is dull,” he said. “You deal with test tubes and computers all day. As an actor you deal with beautiful women and world travel and it pays much better.”
In his latest movie, “I Come in Peace,” the towering 6-foot-6 Lundgren plays an American, with vestiges of Visigoth. He’s a Houston, Tex., detective who tackles a pair of 7-foot galactic aliens, one of whom is a drug dealer.
While he may play sinister roles, there is a disquieting off-screen tranquility about the big Swede, which belies his film persona.
But, in the event he is mistaken for a jolly Scandinavian pussycat, one need only recall he hospitalized Sylvester Stallone with a bruised heart during a fight scene for “Rocky IV,” in which Dolph played a Russian heavyweight champ named Drago.
“In this picture I play a violent man. He has to be violent because he’s a cop,” Lundgren said in an interview. “I see nothing wrong with violence, but today you have to add different ingredients like romance, comedy and drama to go along with the special effects.
“It helps if it is played partly tongue-in-cheek, like Bruce Willis did in ‘Die Hard 2,’ then audiences accept it for what it is--fantasy.”
After leaving a considerable body count in his wake in “View to a Kill,” “Master of the Universe,” “Red Scorpion” and “The Punisher, " Lundgren longs to play a gentler soul.
He is inching up on that goal by playing Americans with diminishing Scandinavian accents.
“I am involved in less bloodshed in ‘Cover Up,’ a film I made in Israel,” Lundgren said. “It’s a suspense thriller with me playing a CIA man. There’s only a small dose of violence.
“I’ve done seven movies now, and I’m looking for projects that will allow me to use some acting. The way I see it, these are career moves to position myself in the business and establish myself as an actor. I’m still young enough to play it smart for a couple of years so I can broaden my career.
“Rather than play it safe, I’ll take as many chances as possible to show what I can do. Action films are popular now, but who is to say how long the cycle will go.
“I’m not thinking short term, take-the-money-and-run. I want some personal satisfaction from the projects I appear in. But I may have to take some detours en route to where I want to go. You must have the vision yourself and set your own goals. People in Hollywood won’t do that for you.”