Sven-Ole Thorsen

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Sven-Ole Thorsen
Born (1944-09-24) 24 September 1944 (age 76)
OccupationActor, bodybuilder, stuntman, strongman
Years active1977-2011
Height6 ft 4 in (193 cm)
Spouse(s)Birgitta Sunding
ChildrenMichael and Martin
Competition record
Representing  Denmark
Denmark's Strongest Man
1st 1983
Europe's Strongest Man
10th 1982

Sven-Ole Thorsen (born 24 September 1944) is a Danish actor, stuntman, bodybuilder and strongman competitor. Thorsen won Denmark's Strongest Man in 1983.[1]

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 26 October 2007, and was very well reviewed. The first printing of the book reportedly sold out in 24 hours.[2][3]



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 ultimately-sympathetic bodyguard Sven; and in Predator, where he played a one-second role as a Russian military advisor ('Knock Knock'). His other most characters have varied widely, from the gritty boater-wearing 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 been credited 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 role as Tigris (of Gaul) in Gladiator for over a year, beating Lou Ferrigno for the part.[citation needed] The part won him two TAURUS World Stunt Awards[4] 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 Schwarzenegger. He has a black belt in Shotokan karate and holds championship titles.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Sven-Ole Thorsen is 193 centimetres (6 feet, 4 inches) tall and while appearing in Conan the Barbarian (1982) he weighed 138 kilograms (304 lbs), according to his autobiography (page 24 & 110).[5]

He has two sons, Michael and Martin, from his first marriage.

Thorsen met his second wife, the Danish-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 40th birthday, Anniqa and Sven-Ole Thorsen decided to move from Denmark to the US, which they did in April 1985. The couple divorced in 1991.

Thorsen started dating singer/actress 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 1970s.

In 1995, Thorsen started dating Erica Huff, daughter of the soul-singer Leon Huff. Sven-Ole Thorsen lives in Santa Monica, California and had two dogs, a Jack Russell Terrier named Jake and an American Bull Terrier named Cleo (now dead). He won the Danish "Show of Winners" Award of the Year 2006, honouring people who have a special affiliation with dogs.[6]

In his spare time, Thorsen creates wooden sculptures and enjoys art, which he showed in Danish magazine Euroman. He is also famously fond of cigars, another thing he shares in common with Arnold Schwarzenegger.


Year Film Role Notes
1977 Pas på ryggen, professor (Mind Your Back, Professor) Russisk Håndlanger (Russian Henchman)
1982 Conan the Barbarian Thorgrim (as Sven Ole Thorsen) [1]
1984 Conan the Destroyer Togra (as Sven Ole Thorsen) [1]
1985 Red Sonja - Stunts (uncredited) [1]
1986 Raw Deal a.k.a. Triple Identity Patrovita's Bearded Bodyguard (uncredited) Stunts [1]
1987 Lethal Weapon Mercenary (as Sven Thorsen)
Predator Russian Officer (uncredited) [1]
The Running Man Sven (as Sven Thorsen) [1]
Overboard Olaf, Stayton Flunky (uncredited)
1988 Red Heat Nikolai [1]
Twins Sam Klane [1]
1989 Pink Cadillac Birthright Thug
Ghostbusters II - Stunts
1990 The Hunt for Red October Russian Chief of the Red October
Total Recall - Trainer [1]
1991 Abraxas, Guardian of the Universe Secundus (as Sven Ole-Thorsen)
Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man David
Terminator 2: Judgment Day Galleria Security Guard [1]
1992 Death Becomes Her - Stunts (uncredited)
Dead On: Relentless II a.k.a. Relentless II: Dead On Mechanic (Patrick Vergano) Stunts
Lethal Weapon 3 Henchman #2
Bram Stoker's Dracula - Stunts (as Sven Thorsen)
1993 Cyborg 2 Doorman (as Sven Thorsen)
Nowhere to Run Prisoner
Nemesis Cyborg Interrogating Old Woman (uncredited) Stunts
Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story The Demon
Last Action Hero Gunman [1]
Hard Target Stephan
1994 A Little Tailor's Christmas Story Schultz
The Dangerous Sven
On Deadly Ground Otto (as Swen-Ole Thorsen)
A Low Down Dirty Shame a.k.a. Mister Cool Mob Boss' Bodyguard (uncredited) Stunts (as Sven Thorsen)
1995 The Viking Sagas a.k.a. The Icelandic Sagas Gunnar
No Exit a.k.a. Fatal Combat Darcona
The Quick and the Dead Gutzon
Mallrats La Fours Stunts (as Sven Thorsen)
Heat - Stunts (uncredited)
1996 The Undercover Kid a.k.a. How I Saved the President Terrorist #1
Fox Hunt Huge Man
Eraser Russian Gunman (uncredited) Stunts [1]
Bulletproof Gunman at Motel (uncredited) Stunts
Jingle All the Way - Stunts (as Sven Thorsen) [1]
1997 Breakdown - Stunts Only
Back in Business a.k.a. Heart of Stone - Stunts Only
Batman & Robin - Stunts Only [1]
George of the Jungle Mercenary (Gunther) (as Sven-Ole-Thorsen)
Kull the Conqueror King Borna
1998 The Bad Pack Sven
Best of the Best 4: Without Warning Boris
Soldier - Stunts Only
Winchell German Man
1999 Foolish Paris
The 13th Warrior Would-Be King
End of Days Thug (uncredited) also Utility Stunts [1]
2000 Ready to Rumble - Stunts Only
Façade a.k.a. Death Valley General Schweinkopf (as Sven Ole-Thorsen)
Gladiator Tigris of Gaul (Tiger) Won Stunt Award
The Alternate a.k.a. Agent of Death Secret Service Agent (uncredited)
2001 The Gristle Butcher Boy
Bandits (2001 film) Oregon State Prison Guard on Watchtower (uncredited)
Route 666 Russian Hitman
Extreme Honor a.k.a. Last Line of Defence 2 Baker's Bodyguard
2002 Hollywood Next 8 Exits The Landlord
Collateral Damage Bomb Victim (uncredited) [1]
The Sum of All Fears Haft
2003 Masked and Anonymous - Stunts (as Sven Thorsen)
Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle Machine Gun Mongol (uncredited)
The Rundown a.k.a. Welcome to the Jungle Goon (uncredited) [1]
Timecop 2: The Berlin Decision SS Body Guard (as Sven Ole Thorson)
2004 In Enemy Hands a.k.a. U-Boat U 429: Hans
Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story Lumberjack hit by ball (uncredited) Stunts (uncredited)
Collateral - Stunt Driver Only
Hidalgo The Laughing Raider (uncredited)
2005 Hostage Hooded Thug Guarding Hostages (uncredited)
2011 Ronal Barbaren (Ronald the Barbarian) The General (voice only) Animated feature


1 ^ Arnold Schwarzenegger also appeared in this movie.


Year Title Role Notes
17 October 1986 The A-Team "Rolf" "Quarterback Sneak" (episode # 5.4)
1987 Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future Lt. Michael 'Tank' Ellis Entire series
11 May 1991 The Flash "Cyborg Omega" "Alpha" (episode # 1.19)
8 February 1997 Baywatch Nights "Viking" "Frozen Out of Time" (episode # 2.13)
18 March 1997 The Guardian "Baiya" "Pilot" (episode # 1.1)
1 February 1998 Mike Hammer, Private Eye "Rolf" (as Sven Ole Thorsen) "The Art of Murder" (episode # 2.3)
21 September 1998 Baywatch "Hans Ulpan" "Crash: Part 1" (episode # 9.1)
28 September 1998 Baywatch "Hans Ulpan" "Crash: Part 2" (episode # 9.2)
1999 Biker-Jens i USA as Himself episode "Hos Sven-Ole Thorsen"
1 December 2000 Helle for Høgsbro as Himself "Dovenskab" (episode # 1.13)
27 December 2005 Go'morgen Danmark as Himself
3 February 2006 Showtime as Himself Episode #2.1
17 February 2006 2 Kaffe, Tak as Himself [1]
6 February 2006 Go' Aften Danmark as Himself
15 March 2007 Andy Barker, P.I. Thug #1 Pilot (episode # 1.1)
October 2009 Vild med dans (Strictly Come Dancing) first two programs as Himself
14 December 2009 Kristian as Sven Ole "Sekten" (episode # 1.5)
13 December 2010 Go' Aften Danmark as Himself


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