Home » Dolph Lundgren: On Healing and Forgiveness at TEDxFulbrightSantaMonica (Full Transcript)

Dolph Lundgren: On Healing and Forgiveness at TEDxFulbrightSantaMonica (Full Transcript)

So, when this thing just – “vroom” – went past a window, I think they were sort of shocked, you know. They expected somebody else, slightly smaller, maybe with some Coke-bottle glasses or something, but, anyway, they were as shocked as I was not belonging there. I felt that right away, and three weeks later I was gone. I went back to New York, got an agent – so all other actors – started studying, acting, got up for a couple of movies. One was a “boxing” movie. It turned out to be Rocky IV, and I auditioned for it.

Finally, I got the role, moved out here. I was training with Sly Stallone down here, about a mile away from here. And the film was shot and opened 30 years ago, Memorial Day. And I came out of the theater with Grace and people were taking pictures of me, and I’m like, “What happened? Oh, I guess I’m a movie star. OK, great.” But, you know, the problem was this: my troubles had only started, because what happened was that frozen part of me – remember that I told you? – started coming out and kind of running my life.

Because what happens is this: when you have this trauma, it’s like a soldier with post-traumatic stress. You end up acting on something called escape behavior. You try to escape from something you can’t escape from because it’s inside of you: drinking, sexual affairs, overeating, violence, you name it. I did a lot of bad things to myself, and, 25 years later, 40 movies later, yeah, I was a movie star, but I was miserable most of the time.

I had a failed marriage, two daughters who I loved, but they didn’t even know me. My career was kind of rock-bottom. This was only five years ago, and I didn’t know how to get out of it. Two things happened. I got a call from my old buddy Sly Stallone, “Hey, Dolph, how are you doing? I’ve got this script, so check it out, see what you think.” Well, the script was called The Expendables. It was a big hit, I was back in the big screen after 15 years.

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The other thing is I met this girl, fell in love with her, and I knew I was going to embark on the same stupid path I’d been down before. Actually, something happened. Some girl was flirting with me, I gave her my number – The usual: the text, the pictures; she saw it – A few of you may have been there.

She went nuts, we were about to break up, and I said, “I can’t do this. I’ve got to change my life somehow.”

She’d told me before, “Why don’t you try therapy?”

I was like, “Forget about it. It’s for sissies.”

“What about meditation?”

“Ah, do I look like an Indian guru? I don’t think so.”

So, to make a long story short, I took up therapy three years ago, meditation, and it totally changed my life. Suddenly, this fog that I was living in lifted. I did the therapy where you go back in time, you relive your experiences, you cry, scream, you roll up in a little ball, you hit the couch with a baseball bat, you know, anything you’ve got to do to start to attack this part of you, this frozen part of me that was running my life. And slowly it started to become smaller and smaller, and I could sort of see my life come back to me. And the meditation helped as well.

So, the first thing I did: I went back to see my kids, and I asked them for forgiveness for what I had done because I told them what happened with my dad, and I was a guy who didn’t like what I’d done, and they started crying right away. And I realized they had had a lot of pain, and I cried with them. I did the same with my ex-wife, and a few other people I had hurt. And, as a matter of fact, I also, in my head, forgave my dad for what he did, and my mom, for what she didn’t do. And I started embarking on this new life.

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It was like a fight worth fighting, to come to terms with yourself, to heal yourself. But what I didn’t realize was there’s another level to that, because, once you start healing yourself and feel better, you see other people around you who need help, who have pain. And faith kind of came to me, and I wrote and produced a movie about human trafficking, called Skin Trade. And I learned about human trafficking, which is a terrible crime. There are 20 million slaves in the world today. It’s a 20-billion-dollar industry, second largest in the world. These people are physically humiliated, psychologically abused. They have no self worth, sort of like how I used to feel. And kind of faith brought me in contact with this, with human trafficking and these victims.

When I came back to LA, I called an organization called CAST, and asked them if I could help – Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking. Well, I’ve been helping them ever since, and it’s a great feeling for me to finally give something back. You know, a lot of this human trafficking isn’t just happening in, like, India, and Africa, and over there. As a matter of fact, one of the most interesting cases was a girl that was brought over from a Third World country by a very wealthy family. She was kept in a house, they took her passport, kept on the guard all the time, threatened her with violence, threatened her family. You know where the house was? In Brentwood, right here, about a mile from here.

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