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‘Rocky’ star Dolph Lundgren recalls sending Sylvester Stallone to a hospital during filming


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Dolph Lundgren once sent co-star Sylvester Stallone to a hospital during the filming of "Rocky IV."

After being punched by Lundgren while shooting the final fight scene in the hit 1985 movie, Stallone was flown to a hospital and spent four days in intensive care. 

During an interview with Fox News Digital, the 66-year-old Lundgren, who is starring in the new movie "Wanted Man," recalled the incident and how he later learned Stallone had been hospitalized.

"We shot the last fight first. I was in Vancouver, and then the producer called me and said, ‘Oh, you got two weeks off.’ And I'm like, ‘Oh, great. You know, what happened?’ [He said] ‘Oh, Sly’s in the hospital.' So I just found out about it like everybody else," Lundgren remembered.


"I think, you know, he was directing, acting, fighting me, who was ten years younger, who was the European heavyweight karate champion in the ring. Fighting me 12 hours a day and directing and producing and writing.

"I think he was under a lot of pressure, stress," Lundgren added. "We both got hit, and he says that he got hit. Somebody named Ivan Drago punched him in the ribs and bruised his heart muscle. So yeah, maybe that's right."

Lundgren made his first appearance as Ivan Drago in the "Rocky" franchise's fourth film. Drago was a boxing champion from the Soviet Union and the main rival of the protagonist Rocky Balboa (Stallone).

In November 2021, Stallone detailed the moment Lundgren "pulverized" him on set during the intense boxing scene between their characters.

"He hit me so hard he almost stopped my heart," the 77-year-old actor recalled in a YouTube video. "I told him, ‘Why don’t we just do it? Just try to knock me out. Really cut loose as hard as you can.’ That was a really stupid thing to say. Next thing I know, I’m on a low-altitude plane to the emergency room, and I’m in intensive care for four days. And there are all these nuns around."

Lundgren is now one of Stallone's closest friends in Hollywood, and the two reunited on-screen as Drago and Rocky for 1990's "Rocky V" and 2018's "Creed II." The duo also co-starred in all four movies in the "Expendables" franchise.

In a previous retelling of the incident, Stallone said the impact was similar to a car crash and said he'd been hit by "a streetcar named Drago."

During a 2021 interview with Fox News Digital, Lundgren expressed his relief that the "The Suicide Squad" star survived the thunderous punch to his chest.

"You know, we all end up incurring all these injuries being an action star. I suppose that was one of the more interesting ones he's been a part of," Lundgren said with a chuckle. "I'm glad he made it. Good for me."

Over the past decade, Lundgren has faced serious health struggles of his own. During a May interview on "In Depth With Graham Bensinger," the Swede revealed he has been battling cancer for eight years.

Lundgren explained that he was first diagnosed in 2015 when doctors found a tumor in his kidney. The doctors were able to remove the cancerous tumor in his kidney, and he remained cancer-free five years.

In 2020, Lundgren said, doctors found a "few more tumors around the area." Six additional tumors were removed during surgery, but one more tumor had grown into the "size of a lemon" in his liver in the fall of 2021, and doctors were unable to remove it.

WATCH: Dolph Lundgren shares how staying active and his wife Emma help him with his health and anti-aging

During his interview with Fox News Digital, Lundgren recalled his "rough journey a couple of years ago" and how a second opinion saved his life. 

Lundgren recalled that he was filming "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom" and "Expend4bles" in London when he realized his doctor didn't think he had much time to live. 

"It wasn't looking good," Lundgren said. "I mean, there was a doctor in London who basically told me you should stop working and spend more time with your family. Then I realized it was serious."

However, the "Universal Soldier" star later learned his doctors were "giving me the wrong treatments because they hadn't really checked on all the biopsies." 

"I got a second opinion from a UCLA doctor, and she went back and looked at all the biopsies, and she said, ‘Well, you know, this is a different mutation than what they said,’" Lundgren recalled.


"They hadn't checked it. They just assumed. As soon as I got the new medication, I started getting better. And that was all [2022].

"And then last year, I removed all those tumors," Lundgren recalled. "They freeze them out or use radiation. And then, you know, now I'm living a normal life, I would say. Except I gotta go and do a scan every three months. But everything else is kind of back to normal. So, it was scary and magical at the same time."

In addition to starring in "Wanted Man," Lundgren also directed and co-wrote the action film with screenwriters Michael Worth and Hank Hughes.

The actor played aging detective Travis Johanson "whose outdated policing methods have given the department a recent public relations problem," according to a plot synopsis.


"To save his job, he is sent to Mexico to extradite a female witness (Christina Villa) for the murders of two DEA agents. Once there, he finds not only his old opinions challenged, but that bad hombres on both sides of the border are now gunning for him and his witness."

"Wanted Man" also stars Kelsey Grammer, Christina Villa, Michael Paré and Roger Cross. It is the seventh film Lundgren has directed.

During his interview with Fox News Digital, Lundgren shared his secret to anti-aging and maintaining his health.

"I think part of it is being creative and in the creative business," Lundgren said. "And if you keep working, I think, as you get older, if you stop and if you retire, then I think people that do that, they just age because you just sit around.

"And I think being active is a balance of being active, especially in a creative job where you're dealing with younger people and creative people and then taking time off and not stressing too much. I've had a lot of stress in my life, and I've made bad decisions health-wise and in all kinds of ways." 

Lundgren also credited wife Emma Krokdal with helping him balance his work and downtime. Lundgren and the 27-year-old personal trainer, who began dating in 2019, tied the knot in July 2023 during an intimate ceremony in Mykonos, Greece.

"I think, now, especially with Emma, she helps me to not overdo it," he said.

"Wanted Man" is in theaters, on demand and digital Jan. 19.

Fox News Digital's Melissa Roberto and Sarah Rumpf-Whitten contributed to this report.

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