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Standing at 6’3″ and a muscular 240 pounds, Ukrainian-born Andrey Ivchenko is an imposing figure. Throw in the thick accent and rugged good looks, and it’s easy to see why the 47-year-old actor is a Hollywood go-to for tough guy roles.
That turn continues with Season 3 of Netflix’s Stranger Things, in which Ivchenko plays a Russian KGB operative who wants to open the gate into the Upside Down—you know, that terrifying portal to an alternate dimension.
“The Russians are trying to open the gate to let the monster out,” he says. “Hopper [the town’s police chief played by David Harbour] is trying to stop me, and I’m trying to stop him.” He notes that he was particularly suited for the role because his appearance and voice are similar to those of an ’80s-era Schwarzenegger, which brought authenticity to the nostalgia-laced series.
Of course, you don’t get the role of super jacked villain without putting in the work. For Ivchenko, that means hitting the gym four to five days a week and focusing on weights. “My legs used to be a weakness for me, so I worked really hard on them,” Ivchenko says. Clearly, it paid off. “I’ve never been a big fan of cardio,” he says. “I’m a believer that even without much cardio you can burn calories, gain muscle, and stay lean.” He achieves that by mixing heavy days with lighter, higher-rep workouts to keep his heart rate up.
Ivchenko is equally dedicated in the kitchen but notes that he doesn’t worry about following any particular diet.
“I just try to eat healthy and get lots of protein,” he says. “As you age, you’ve got to watch your sugar, salt, and fat to stay lean.” Despite all outward appearances, Ivchenko calls himself a hardgainer. “It’s hard for me to put on muscle, so I eat more than more gifted guys.”
As for whether he ever tires of his anti-hero roles, Ivchenko takes it in stride. He enjoys action and putting his own touch on the characters, but he admits that bad guys have shorter shelf lives. “In Falling Sky, I got to play a nice guy, and I didn’t get killed. But usually I play the villain, and I usually die, unfortunately.”
Try his intense lower-body workout for chiseled legs of your own, and don’t forget to catch Ivchenko on the new season of Stranger Things on Netflix.