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How Imagine Dragons landed Dolph Lundgren for epic 'Believer' video

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Imagine Dragon’s new single “Believer” is a three-minute blast of pummeling drums, gut-busting bass, and one massive, shout-along chorus—so when it came time to film the music video, naturally the Grammy-winning Las Vegas rockers looked to cast a legendary heavy-hitter from the silver screen: Rocky IV pugilist Dolph Lundgren.

In the clip, directed by Matt Eastin, singer Dan Reynolds spars with the 59-year-old Swedish actor in an epic, blood-soaked boxing match. Interestingly, this marks the first time Lundgren, who broke out playing the Soviet boxer Ivan Drago in 1985’s Rocky IV, has starred in a music video—but Reynolds tells EW it wasn’t a huge feat to convince Lundgren to participate. “He’s a friend of a friend, but we basically cold called him,” he says. “He was into it once we told him he could punch me in the face.”

To prepare for sparring, Reynolds was intent on getting in fighting shape: He took boxing lessons for a month and adhered to a strict “keto diet regimen” designed by his trainer. “It was miserable,” he jokes. And while Reynolds manages to land a few punches, he admits there was a moment when Lundgren may have gone too far. “Dolph caught me with a straight right to the jaw on accident and almost knocked me out,” says Reynolds. “I think we actually kept that scene.”

For his part, Lundgren says he found a worthy opponent in Reynolds. “Once we got into it, he did very well,” he says. “And actually took a few solid punches that would have shaken Rocky Balboa.”

Imagine Dragons’ third studio album is due out this spring. Watch the video for “Believer” above.