In what remains his signature role, Dolph Lundgren plays one of the most ruthless antagonists of Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky films. In 1985’s Rocky IV, Lundgren plays the Soviet boxer Ivan Drago, who beats Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) to death in the ring, prompting Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky to travel behind the Iron Curtain to fight Drago on his home turf. In a new interview, Lundgren reveals that his character may be getting his own spinoff.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Dolph Lundgren mentioned the Drago spinoff in a surprisingly casual way. The actor was talking about a fight scene between the now aging boxers Drago and Rocky Balboa that was ultimately cut from 2018’s Creed II. After telling THR why the fight scene was deleted, Lundgren said, “By the way, I think there’s some talk about doing a whole spinoff on Drago with MGM. So you may get more of that.”
To 1985 audiences, there wasn’t much character to Rocky IV‘s Ivan Drago. As opposed to earlier Rocky antagonists like Apollo Creed and Rocky III‘s Clubber Lang (Mr. T), Dolph Lundgren’s Ivan Drago is a man of few words. He comes off as beyond stoic and borders on robotic. He could very well leave you with the question of how there could be much left to say about the guy.
Lundgren, however, says there’s more to Drago than what we’ve seen. “When I played the character, I did a backstory about how he was brought up by the state and they controlled him,” Lundgren told THR. The actor went on to compare his famous character with an iconic monster: “He wasn’t really an evil person; he was just a product of the system. He’s Frankenstein’s monster. He’s not Dr. Frankenstein; that was the Soviet Union.”
We get to see more of Ivan Drago’s humanity in Creed II, when he returns to the U.S. to set his son Viktor (Florian Munteanu) against Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) — the son of the man he killed in the ring three decades earlier. But the movie doesn’t show enough to keep Lundgren happy. The actor expressed disappointment over a “quick little fight” between Drago and Balboa that was taken of the film’s final cut. “I thought it was a good moment,” Lundgren said. “It was also a fan moment.” According to the actor, Creed II director Steven Caple Jr. felt it was “extraneous.”
Stallone — who pulled triple duty on Rocky IV as its writer, director, and star — recently revealed that one of his biggest regrets about the Rocky franchise is the death of Apollo Creed at Drago’s hands. In a behind-the-scenes doc for the recently released director’s cut Rocky IV: Rocky vs. Drago, Stallone said it would’ve made more sense to have Creed injured by Dolph Lundgren’s character to the point that he needed a wheelchair for mobility. This, Stallone said, would’ve opened up new creative avenues for Apollo Creed, allowing him to become “a father figure, mentor, brother.” John Herzfeld, who directed the documentary, pointed out to Stallone that if Apollo had survived Rocky IV, the trajectory of Rocky’s story would have changed, perhaps even erasing the potential for the Creed films to exist.