Dolph Lundgren is a 62-year-old actor, filmmaker, and martial artist. According to the latest reports from Celebrity Net Worth, he’s also one incredibly rich man. If the latest estimates are to be believed, the Swedish born superstar is worth the astonishing net worth of $18 million… not bad going for someone who was branded a ‘loser’ by their own father. So, how did he get so rich? Stay tuned as we find out how he made his money in the movies.
The Early Years
Lundgren was born on 3 November 1957 in Spånga, Sweden. His mother, Sigrid Birgitta, was a language teacher, while his father, Karl-Hugo Johan Lundgren, was an engineer and economist for the Swedish government. As a child, he suffered under the hands of his father, who branded his son a “loser” and was often physically abuse. While some kid’s spirits would have been crushed under the torment, Lundgren has since claimed it had the reverse effect, motivating him to become more ambitious and determined to ‘prove’ his worth. At the age of seven, he started taking classes in judo and Gōjū-ryū; by the time he hit his teens, he’d graduated to Kyokushin karate and weight lifting. He continued his adventurers in martial arts through his studies at Washington State University and Clemson University; after becoming the star of the Swedish Kyokushin karate team, he ended up stealing the show at the 1979 World Open Tournament and 1980 and 1981 European championships.
A Fortuitous Meeting
In the early 1980s, the course of Lundgren’s life changed when he met the legendary singer, Grace Jones. After becoming Jones’s bodyguard, the two became lovers. Living with Jones in New York proved an eye opener for the young Lundgren. Speaking about the experience on his official biography, Lundgren writes “My time in New York City opened up my adolescent Swedish eyes to a multitude of different people and lifestyles, mostly in the arts. I hung out with Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Iman and Steve Rubell, danced at Studio 54, and studied acting with Andie MacDowell and Tom Hulce.” Grace’s influence would also lead to him winning his first ever film part. After she was cast in the James Bond film A View to a Kill, Jones recommended he try out for a part. He did, successfully. His feature film debut playing the character of a KGB henchman named Venz may have been minor, but it gave him a foot in the door, a door he’d later smash through completely when he landed the career defining role of Ivan Drago in Rocky IV (1985).
His next few films after Rocky IV didn’t exactly set the world on fire, and neither did his acting (his performance in mighty He-Man in Masters of the Universe (1987) was considered so dire, it led to one critic uttering the scathing words “Lundgren is limited by his size and dead pan delivery: though often compared to Arnold, he has less range”). Undeterred, Lundgren kept plowing away at the Hollywood machine. His acting rarely received compliments, but by the time the 1980s closed, he was one of the biggest stars of the day (quite literally, in fact – all those years of martial arts training had given him the kind of physique that was almost made for action moves).
By the time the 1990s rolled around, Lundgren had achieved leading man status. In fairness, he still wasn’t exactly wowing the critics with his acting skills, but given the genre he’d chosen to focus on, good acting seemed to count for less than the ability to look buff in tight t-shirt and throw a convincing looking punch. In 1992, he landed a role in the biggest blockbuster of the year. the sci-fi action picture Universal Soldier. Despite being panned by the critics as a Terminator wannabe, the film was lapped up by viewers, making over $102 million worldwide on a $23 million budget. Over the following few years, Lundgren worked tenaciously; the films were rarely well received by critics but most managed to fare well enough at the box-office to maintain his status as a bankable star.
Wooden acting or not, Lundgren was considered a man who knew how to pull off a high kick and handle a rifle like a pro, with the result that, for a while at least, no action move was considered complete without an appearance from the Swede. Some of his most notable films from the period include Joshua Tree (1993), Pentathlon (1994), Men of War (1994), The Shooter (1995), Johnny Mnemonic, (1995), Silent Trigger (1996), The Peacekeeper (1997), The Minion (1998). Sweepers (1998), and Bridge of Dragons (1999).
The Direct to Video Years
The 2010s proved a troublesome period for Lundgren. Despite starting it on a high with The Expendables (a film which, like most of Lundgren’s offerings, was panned by the critics but lapped up by cinema-goers), the subsequent years would see him retreat into the wilderness of Direct to Video films. 2013’s The Package grossed just $1,469 in the first week of its release; 2015’s War Pigs and Shark Lake fared little better, while The Good, the Bad and the Dead and Larceny sank without trace shortly after release. In 2017, his career had reached an all-time low, as his appearance in Sharknado 5: Global Swarming proved.
You can’t keep a good Swede down for long, particularly if that Swede is a 261-pound fighting machine. In 2018, Lundgren staged his comeback by reprising the role of Ivan Drago from Rocky IV in Creed II. Despite being nervous about returning to the character that had made his name the first time around, he was convinced of the merits after meeting the director, Steven Caple. “I was scared of going back and either messing it up and destroying that legacy or having to play another stereotypical, one-dimensional Russian bad guy,” he explained to Vulture. “But when I met the director, Steven Caple, I realized in two seconds he was a real artist, real director, who is interested in the drama of trying to bring back my character.” The decision payed off, heralding a return to form and some of the best reviews of his career. 2018 bought more good reviews in the shape of the DC Extended Universe film Aquaman. He can next be seen in the upcoming movie (and almost guaranteed commercial succes) Minions: The Rise of Gru. For a man that was once described by Film Review as someone who “should be a long-forgotten action-star,” there seems to little danger of anyone forgetting Lundgren and his huge body of work anytime soon… which may just explain that $18 million net worth.