Rocky IV is widely considered to be one of the best films in the Rocky franchise, and the rivalry between Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) and Drago (Dolph Lundgren) is regarded as one of the most legendary of it’s kind. While Stallone and Lundgren are now close friends, their relationship was not always such a positive one. In fact, Stallone has just stunned fans by revealing that he “hated” Lundgren and nearly lost his life to him while filming the movie.

“Dolph Lundgren walked in, and I hated him immediately,” Stallone revealed at the Cannes Film Festival, according to Fox News. “I had to find a superhuman being as an opponent, someone who would be overwhelming.”

Though Stallone did not like Lundgren from the start, he could not deny that the former world karate champion was perfect for the role of a sociopathic fighter from the Soviet Union.

“This is what I would imagine they would create as an athlete — someone who is literally perfect. Indestructible,” Stallone said. “Shoulders, calves, forearms, giant butt, neck, back, everything.”

However, the decision to cast Lundgren nearly got Stallone killed when things went a bit too far during rehearsals.

“He hit me so hard he almost stopped my heart,” Stallone recalled. “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.”

Stallone has previously said that the impact of the hit felt like a car crash and that it felt as if he had been hit by “a streetcar named Drago.”

Since then, the two have patched things up and become close friends in their personal lives. Stallone managed to earn Lundgren’s respect on set by training so hard that the latter later said he hit better than Carl Weathers, who played Apollo Creed in the film.

“Sly punched harder than Weathers. Weathers was all about speed and jabs,” Lundgren said. “Sly was more about hooks. I was actually pretty surprised at how well Sly could fight. I fought for real and had to learn how to fake it! He was really committed.”

It’s always fascinating to hear what went on behind the scenes on some of our favorite films! We’re glad that Stallone managed to survive filming with Lundgren, and that the two have gone on to have such a close friendship.

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