Hollywood legend Dolph Lundgren is anything but expendable. One of the true action heroes of the late '80s and early '90s, Lundgren racked up credits on "The Punisher," "Rocky IV," "Masters of the Universe," "Universal Soldier," "The Expendables" and more. Now, he's set to conquer the world of television, where he's slated for a meaty multiple-episode arc on "Arrow."
In Season 5's flashbacks, Lundgren plays Konstantin Kovar, a Russian government agent who Oliver is determined to take down -- permanently. It's a task that's easier said than done, of course. Taiana referred to Kovar back in Season 4, referring to how dangerous he was, and there's a good reason why Oliver should be intimidated and afraid of him.
Ahead of tonight's episode, "Vigilante," Lundgren spoke with CBR about playing this season's flashback's major antagonist, why he shouldn't necessarily be considered a villain, getting physical with Oliver and returning to the superhero genre.
CBR: You haven't done a ton of recurring TV roles in your career. How did you become involved with "Arrow?"
Dolph Lundgren: Well, they contacted me. They wrote me this letter saying "We're big fans of yours. We've created this character for you." I read the script, and it was a very interesting, fun character I could take many ways. I gave it a stab. I went up to Vancouver, shot a little, and I guess they liked it. They immediately wanted to add some more episodes to my arc. That was good, and we all got along great.
What can you tell us about your character, Konstantin Kovar?
He's a mystery man. He works for some faction of the Russian government. He's working against that Bratva Brotherhood, the people Arrow is affiliated with. Kovar is a successful, street-tough guy. He's probably ex-military and has risen in the ranks. He's now quite wealthy, but he still works for his people, whoever they are. That isn't quite clear yet. I don't even know myself, but I have my own theories. I make up theories as I do the scene and work on the character.
Arrow's adversaries are never simply black or white. They tend to be much more complicated. How villainous do you see Kovar?
Never judge your character. He's not a villain at all. He's the good guy. He's trying to keep these Bratva thugs from killing people and destroying society over here in Mother Russia. Basically, if you are working for the CIA and you have to kill somebody - why do you have to kill them? Because they are an enemy of the United States. You get a medal for that and I think Kovar gets a medal as well from his country when he does something good.
So far, from what I've seen, he's basically trying to protect his nation from insurgence. He does it in his own stylish-way. Obviously, I've run into this one American operative who is quite skilled and could be useful. That's why Oliver is still alive. I want to use him for something.
The flashbacks have been used over the seasons to give viewers a glimpse into Oliver's past and what shapes him. How do you feel Kovar pushes Oliver and helps him grow?
It's funny -- working on dramatic TV is a bit like one of those movies where the director only gives the actor the scene they are doing. They don't even get the whole script. You don't play the arc. You are not trying to tell the story of what happened before or after. That's how I operate in a series. I don't know much about the whole thing. I know about my character and what I'm doing.
I do realize it's all flashbacks, and somehow it's part of the bigger story. Things that happen in the past affect later on. To me, it happens now, and I'm in the scene with Arrow and doing my thing. There's some mutual respect, or, at least respect from my side. I think Kovar is somehow going to try to utilize Oliver in some way for his own gain. That will lead to some adventures that will make Arrow the man he is today.
Kovar is dressed to kill. How did his fancy wardrobe get you into character? Or were you hoping for a costume?
Or boxing shorts. It's fun, and it's more me in one way. I do like clothes and fashion. A lot of successful, wealthy Russians are very much into fashion. They like to flaunt their money. It definitely helps get into the character a little bit. Obviously, Kovar is a man who likes to hear his own voice and show off. That's part of his game.
Many viewers associate you with "Rocky IV," "The Expendables," "Universal Soldier" or the original "Punisher" movie. How did the series utilize your physical strengths?
They did it in a very clever way. The character is threatening. He comes on screen, and you know he means business. Something is going to happen here. But he doesn't walk around flexing his muscles or carrying a big knife. He's a suave guy, but a dangerous man. Eventually you are going to see that. You do see some of that in the second episode. There's a bit of a tussle and I'm sure more will come.
What's clever about the writers was they've used him as a threat. As an actor, over the years, I realized I don't necessarily have to do that much. I don't have to be someone else to feel threatening. That's the potential of Kovar - to be menacing to the main characters.
Are Kovar and Oliver evenly matched?
I don't know everything yet, because there's only a short exchange in the next episode. Their styles are quite similar. It's pretty straight-forward and tough. Oliver doesn't do backflips or slide along the floor. Kovar is the same. He's slightly bigger, but Arrow is a big guy, too.
What else has you pumped about Kovar's storyline?
I'm interested in the complexity of this guy. Sure, obviously he's dangerous and on the Russian side. But, it's a little unclear about what his motivations are. Who is Kovar working for and what is his ultimate goal? There's more layers there to be explored and to have fun with me as the actor.
"The Punisher" was initially released in 1989. How much have you enjoyed stepping back into the superhero universe?
It feels really good. I love the show. I'm amazing that so many people watch it and the attention it's gotten me. I run into people here in the streets of Los Angeles, especially the action fans, and they say, "I see you're in 'Arrow.' I'm really excited." I love being back in the superhero universe without having to wear tights.
Starring Stephen Amell as the Emerald Archer, "Arrow" airs Wednesdays at 8 pm ET/PT on The CW. The series also stars Emily Bett Rickards, David Ramsey, John Barrowman, Willa Holland and more.