Dave Bautista’s a thundering presence in the WWE ring and on the screen in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, but simply starring in action films isn’t what Bautista sees when he looks to his future in films. Bautista’s earning rave reviews for his performance as Drax the Destroyer in Guardians of the Galaxy, and audiences and critics alike are applauding his deadpan delivery of some of the movie’s best lines.
In support of the movie’s August 1, 2014 theatrical release, I had the opportunity to speak with Bautista about tackling the role of Drax and now being a part of the Marvel universe.
Dave Bautista Guardians of the Galaxy Interview
Did you ever think you would get to do comedy coming from WWE?
Dave Bautista: “I hoped so. I had hope. That was one of the challenges was getting out there and getting people to see that I was interested in doing this type of stuff – stuff other than action films.”
I think the one thing people take for granted about professional wrestlers is at least 50 percent of your job is public speaking.
Dave Bautista: “Right, right. The WWE is very press friendly, very fan friendly, and we also do a lot of charity stuff so we’re out there. We’re put in the public a lot. It’s one of those things that was real uncomfortable for me when I first started because I was kind of an introvert. I actually had some serious issues when I first started. Throughout the years I got a little more comfortable with it.”
Did James Gunn give you more direction than other directors you’ve worked with?
Dave Bautista: “James was much more interactive than any other director. I haven’t worked with all that many, but he was much more interactive. He was just always there, always on set with us, always talking to us and guiding us through it. It just felt like he was constantly there with us, rather than sitting behind a curtain somewhere watching a monitor. It just felt like he was always interacting with us. The whole way through, even through auditioning and rehearsal, he was just always there in the mix.”
You and Zoe Saldana both play painted characters. When you interacted with each other and handled each other, would the paints rub off and mix?
Dave Bautista: “We had different types of paint. I think Zoe’s might have been more of an oil-based and it was constantly coming off, so they were retouching it. Mine was more of an alcohol-based, I think, so once it was on there, it was really on there.”
Was being shirtless the whole movie just like working in the ring?
Dave Bautista: “No, it was weird because the tattoos are prosthetics which they glue on. Then through the layers of paint…I tell people I just felt like I had a spandex shirt on. That’s what it felt like, I had a very tight shirt on.”
Were you forbidden from doing some stunts that would have been easy for you just because on movies they don’t let the actors do all of the dangerous physical stunts?
Dave Bautista: “No, they actually let me do quite a few. The stuff that they kept us away from was a lot of the wire works stuff, stuff that was really going to yank you and jar you. Especially the stuff that they would have to do over and over and over. They thought that was a bigger risk and it was more likely that I might come up with an injury. The smallest injury, twist your ankle or something, that might slow down production. Things like that.
All the fight scenes and stuff, we went through months of stunt training and stuff like that. I actually got to do a lot of that stuff, the smaller stuff on our own.”
Did you work any of your own moves into Drax’s repertoire?
Dave Bautista: “I did actually, some. Not so much my wrestling stuff, but some of my martial art. I’ve been a practitioner of Filipino Kali for years and they let me do a little bit. It made sense since Drax uses knives. Yeah, I definitely got to interpret a little bit of that into it.”
Where you a comic book fan and a Drax fan?
Dave Bautista: “Before I got this audition I had never heard of Drax or Guardians of the Galaxy and I think most people are going to probably say the same. Yeah, even growing up, I wasn’t the type of kid to pick up a comic book and read it. I was the type of kid who would pick it up and look at the pictures. I got most of my entertainment from cartoons, from TV and from movies.”
Was the audition full of other big guys like yourself?
Dave Bautista: “As far as my role, they were pretty big. I think Jason Momoa was auditioning, Djimon Hounsou was auditioning for Drax. There were a couple of other names but those are the kind of really, really big names, especially Djimon, such a well established and talented actor. I found this out after the fact. I really wasn’t aware and I was reading internet rumors to see what was going on. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Marvel, they’re just so hush-hush about everything.”
The humor in the movie, Drax especially, is so deadpan. Was that easy to get?
Dave Bautista: “For the most part it was pretty easy playing a straight man, especially to Chris Pratt. But thank God for editing though because there was more than a few cases where I just burst out laughing because we were having so much fun on the set. A lot of stuff that we did that actually made it to the final edit was off-the-cuff stuff. It was improv stuff. It was honestly one of those things where every other take you’re just dying laughing.”
Did you expect a superhero movie to have so much emphasis on the comedy?
Dave Bautista: “No, I really didn’t. When I first found out and the role I got a little familiar with that, and of course James Gunn – it kind of seemed odd that he was going to be directing a superhero movie. If you’re familiar with his stuff, he’s got a dark, twisted sense of humor. After reading the script it just made sense. When we actually started filming is when it really started to take the picture and see how refreshing it is. I saw the movie in its entirety for the first time on Friday, and then after seeing it all put together and pieced together, it’s new and fresh, and it’s just so fun.”
Working on the set, could you imagine what is was going to look like finished because so much of it is post-production?
Dave Bautista: “No. I mean, you could so much because some of our sets were very elaborate. I think you just don’t get a sense of how beautiful and colorful this film is until you actually see it. Visually it’s an amazing movie with all the scenery and the colors. It’s beautiful.”
What are your favorite superhero movies so far, besides Guardians?
Dave Bautista: “I’m a huge Iron Man fan. It’s always awkward when people ask because I have to be honest, I love the Dark Knight series. I thought it was awesome. I’ve always been a Batman fan, I always will be. I’m a Marvel fan now and I’m loyal to Marvel, but at the same time being a superhero geek, I love Batman.”
How about just general action movies, since you were a Van Damme fan?
Dave Bautista: “Yeah. I think Jason Statham is awesome, but actually I’m one of those few people who would rather see him doing stuff like Snatch. I love all the action stuff but that’s when I became a fan of his, from Snatch. I like the Guy Ritchie stuff a lot, Lock, Stock, & Two Smoking Barrels. I’m a fan of that stuff.
If Guardians of the Galaxy becomes a bigger part of the Marvel universe, are you open to appearing in other movies or even on their TV series?
Dave Bautista: “Yeah, for sure. It’s such an amazing opportunity being part of the Marvel family. Yeah, of course I would do anything, even outside the character of Drax. I would love to do anything Marvel related. I’m really hoping this will open up other doors, other avenues of films. I really want to do some more dialogue-driven stuff and character-driven stuff. Hopefully this will open some doors to do some other roles.”
Are you still set to play Tong Po in Kickboxer?
Dave Bautista: “Yes, which I’m so tickled about. It’s just a nostalgia thing for me, I think. It just brings you back. I was such a fan of the movie when I was younger. I’m kind of excited. They’re still revamping the script so we haven’t gotten the final script, but I’m really excited about it.”
In the original he paralyzes the hero’s brother. Is your Tong Po going to be even more deadly and vicious?
Dave Bautista: “I hope so.That’s the way I’m envisioning him when I see Tong Po. That’s my reference right now, until I get the script I really won’t have another reference. That’s what made me love the movie, it’s what made Jean-Claude Van Damme that underdog that you wanted to root for, is only because Tong Po was so damned menacing.”
Do you want to dip your hands in glass like they did, too?
Dave Bautista: “I hope that it will be somewhat along those lines, maybe even a little bit more drastic. I really don’t know how they’re going to change it. I think it’s going to have that same feel to it, but also they’ve got to make it fresh and new. They’ve got creative people on this so I’m sure they’ll come up with something really cool.”
Originally that wa a Thai character in the movie. Are they going to adapt it to you?
Dave Bautista: “They’re going to have to because I’m not going to be speaking Thai anytime soon. I’m sure there’s going to be some twists and turns. It’ll make sense; it all comes together. They’re going to, of course, have to revamp it a little bit and refresh it and make it make sense.”
I know RZA is secretly making a Man With the Iron Fist sequel. Are you going to return as Brass Body?
Dave Bautista: “I hope so. I’m kind of hearing this as we go along, just like you are, but I hope so. As of yet, I’ve not been offered anything and definitely haven’t shot anything. I would love to return as Brass Body.”
– By Fred Topel
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