Dolph Lundgren reflects on He-Man stint as ‘Masters of the Universe’ turns 35: ‘It was weird playing a toy’

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There have been so many GI Joe, Transformers, Power Rangers, Lego and Toy Story movies that most actors probably don’t think about for a second these days. Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling seem to be having the time of their lives playing Barbie and Ken.

But Dolph Lundgren admitted it.

“It was weird to play toys,” he told us during a 2014 Roll recall interview as he looks back on his stint as He-Man in 1987 Masters of the Universethe adventure film based on the Mattel action figures that opened in theaters 35 years ago on Sunday (watch part 1 above, featuring masters from 3:04 onwards).

The Swedish-born karate champion/Fulbright Scholar made his film debut with a small role in the 1985 James Bond actor A view to kill but became a full-fledged movie star thanks to his role as iconic boxing antagonist Ivan Drago in Rocky IV that same year. masterswasn’t necessarily a huge asset to the hulking actor, though.

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“Back then, cartoon characters weren’t seen as big movie franchises. It was like little offshoots that people did, you know? So people weren’t as excited about it as they are now, with The Avengers and – well, there’s a new superhero photo added every week, I’m losing count here. But back then it was like, ‘Am I going to play this toy? I mean OK.'”

Dolph Lundgren in 1987 Masters of the Universe. (Photo: Cannon Films/Courtesy Everett Collection)

In the expected 80s weird science-esque fashion, the film engages in a high-stakes battle between the Eternal Hero Prince Adam and his nemesis Skeletor (Frank Langella) with the help of… a pair of California teens (Courteney Cox and Robert Duncan McNeil).

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He-Man, of course, hardly wears any clothes during battle, so neither does Lundgren.

“There wasn’t really a costume. It was just two leather belts and some sort of mini leather diaper or something,” he described. “I remember having to fly through Whittier on this disc, just south of LA. And we did 58 nights in a row on this fucking disc. You know, I’m out there in the middle of winter with no clothes on. It was heavy.

“But it was also hard for me because now I was playing kind of a hero, and I had played the bad guy. And I felt a lot of pressure. You know, just like this young Swedish boy. Internally I was a bit lost at the time. Because I became famous for Rocky IV.”

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While the Gary Goddard-directed film still holds a special place in the hearts of many ’80s/He-Man fans today, it was a fairly immediate box-office failure, taking in just $17.3 million. The masters franchise was over as soon as it started. Lundgren might not have minded.

But everything that is old is new again.

masters was rebooted last year as an animated series produced by Kevin Smith on Netflix, and the first live-action He-Man movie since Lundgren’s Star Vehicle is slated to enter production in 2023 with Kyle Allen (West Side Story) starring the new most powerful man in the universe.

Wwatch part 2 of our Role Recall interview with Dolph Lundgren:

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