Sven-Ole Thorsen (born September 24, 1944) is a Danish actor, stuntman, bodybuilder and athlete. A physically powerful man, he once won the Danish "Verdens Stærkeste Mand" ("Strongest man in the world") competition.
Using his stature he often plays imposing giants and villains in his films who are somehow beaten by smaller opponents in a David and Goliath manner, but he has also played heroic characters such as Gunnar the legendary warrior in The Viking Sagas. His autobiography Stærk mand i Hollywood (strong man in Hollywood) was published on October 26, 2007, and was very well reviewed. The first printing of the book reportedly sold out in 24 hours.
He is known for his frequent appearances in Arnold Schwarzenegger movies, like Conan the Barbarian, as the hammer-wielding Thorgrim; The Running Man, as the sympathetic bodyguard Sven; and in Predator, where he played a one-second role as a Russian General ('Knock Knock'). Some of his other most memorable characters have varied widely, from the gritty security guard La Fours in Mallrats, to the unbeaten fighting legend Tigris of Gaul in Gladiator, and the witty Lt. Michael 'Tank' Ellis, Ground Assault Unit in Captain Power, to the menacing alien villain Secundus in Abraxas, Guardian of the Universe, who is always hunting for the Anti-Life Equation without any success.
Thorsen has appeared in fifteen Arnold Schwarzenegger movies (as of 2006) (twelve as actor, three as stuntman or trainer), making him Schwarzenegger's most frequent collaborator. It began with Conan the Barbarian, when Schwarzenegger brought Thorsen and other of his bodybuilder-friends (like Franco Columbu) with him to shoot the movie. Later, when Thorsen moved to the United States, he met Schwarzenegger again while he was acting in the movie Commando. Thorsen helped with some of the stuntwork in that movie, and quickly found work in many of the subsequent Schwarzenegger films.
In spite of Thorsen's thick Danish accent, his voice is almost never dubbed (an exception being Hard Target).
Thorsen pursued his award-winning role as Tigris in Gladiator for over a year, beating Lou Ferrigno for the part. The part won him two TAURUS World Stunt Awards in the ceremony's inaugural year.
Thorsen has founded various federations, including The Danish Bodybuilding Federation in 1979 and Cigar Night at Schatzi in Santa Monica, California along with Arnold Schwarzenegger. He has a black belt in Shotokan Karate, holding championship titles. Thorsen once won the Danish "Verdens Stærkeste Mand" ("Strongest man in the world") competition by powerlifting a massive 247 kilograms.
Mallrats-artwork featuring Sven-Ole Thorsen (left) as security-guard LaFours
Sven-Ole Thorsen is 196 centimetres (6 feet, 5 inches) tall and while appearing in Conan the Barbarian (1982) he weighed 138 kilograms (304 lbs), according to his autobiography (page 24 + 110) from which most of the following information is taken.
He has two sons, Michael and Martin, from his first marriage.
Thorsen met his second wife, the Swedish circus-artist, snake-charmer, pop-singer and athlete Anniqa (born Anniqa Järle) in the 1970s, when she married his close friend, boxing champion Hans Jørgen Jacobsen; Anniqa and Sven-Ole Thorsen were married in 1982.
On his fortieth birthday, Anniqa and Sven-Ole Thorsen decided to move from Denmark to the USA, which they did in April, 1985. The couple divorced in 1991.
Thorsen started dating Grace Jones in 1990, and as of 2007 they have maintained an open relationship. According to his autobiography, all his romantic relationships, marriages included, have been open relationships since the late 1970's.
In 1995, Thorsen started dating Erica Huff, daughter of the legendary soul-singer Leon Huff.
Sven-Ole Thorsen lives in Santa Monica in California and has two dogs, a Jack Russell Terrier named Jake and an American Bull Terrier named Cleo; he won the Danish "Show of Winners" Award of the Year 2006, honouring people who have a special affiliation with dogs.
In his spare time, Thorsen creates wooden sculptures and enjoys art, which he showed in Danish magazine Euroman. He is also famously fond of a good cigar.
1 ^ Arnold Schwarzenegger also appeared in this movie.