It’s no surprise, the first thing you notice about Dave Bautista is his ripped physique. Getting in shape to play Drax the Destroyer in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY was not a challenge for the former WWE (world wrestling entertainment) champion and MMA (mixed martial arts) master, he already owns the shape.
Martial arts training and cycling keeps Bautista fit, but he also enjoys time in the gym, but doesn’t spend as much time there as people may think.
“When I was driving in today, I saw that there was a gym on the lot and the first thing when we parked, I said ‘is there a chance I could use that gym?’ (laughs),” said Bautista. “It’s something that I just love to do. I think it’s more of a mental things with me because I think it’s more of a kind of stress relief. It’s like a therapy for me.”
The next thing you notice about Dave Bautista, his humor and humble nature, may surprise you. Though he’s clearly no stranger to fame, he seems awestruck by the magnitude of stardom that accompanies his role in Marvel’s new blockbuster.
“It’s just really starting to hit me how big it really is,” said Bautista. “When we started doing press last week, and we went over to Singapore… and when hundreds and hundreds of people show up, not only to talk to you, but to see you and they’re already in support of this film which hasn’t come out yet… it’s pretty overwhelming.”
Leaving wrestling for acting was a big leap for Bautista who did not have any offers at the time he left to pursue an acting career. He had roles in “The Scorpion King 3” and “Riddick,” but was hoping to branch out and was excited to land the role of Drax.
“I’ve been wanting to do a role that wasn’t one noted,” said Bautista. “A character with a little bit of emotional range, which is something that I needed for my career really bad because I think people have a certain perception of my leaving wresting that they just saw me as ‘that guy,” and I’m really not ‘that guy’ at all.”
Drax is not your every-day brute. A comic book character with a tragic past, he was driven to destruction by the loss of his family.
“I think when people see Drax, they automatically thing that he’s going to be a kind of one-noted character who is like the type of character that all he’s good for is fighting and chopping people’s heads off,” said Bautista. “The way I approached the character was never really looking at Drax as a warrior, but more as a father and a husband. I hope that people will see that that’s basically who he is and all his rage just comes from heartbreak, and not so much because he’s just hell bent on cutting people’s heads off.”
The forty-five-year-old ex-wrestler didn’t struggle much with the stunt work, taking advice from the stunt guys and mimicking their moves until he perfected them. His makeup was a bit more restrictive, taking four hours to apply and a half hour to take off, the prosthetics limiting his range of motion a little. He had the most difficulty containing his laughter on set.
“Chris (Pratt) is so funny and it’s really hard keeping a straight face with that guy around, especially when he’s just kinda improvising,” said Bautista. “There was this one guy, Alexis, and he played a character called ‘the scarface prisoner’ that I took a knife from… he did some stuff that didn’t make the film, added some one-liners, all improv stuff, that had us just dying. I mean, literally, we were crying, we were laughing so hard.”
Though the Marvel universe is expanding for Bautista, his superheroes growing up were from a different comic book entity.
“I always feel guilty when I’m asked this question because I’m a Marvel guy (now) but Batman was my guy. I have the whole Dark Knight series,” said Bautista. “Also, when I was a very young kid, for some reason, Aquaman was my favorite. So I always feel bad answering, but that’s the honest answer.”
No matter what his answer, you simply adore the man behind Drax, who never set out to be an action star, for his forth-right and unpretentious presence. This is an actor you want to cheer for on screen and off. One gets the sense the insti-stardom that accompanies a Marvel film will not put a dent in his genteel demeanor.
“I really didn’t have any expectations,” said Bautista. “I knew this role would change my career and change my life… I don’t think I knew what to expect. I was just kind of hoping for the best.”
Saving the universe with a rag-tag bunch of pals is proving to be the best at the box office, with and opening night of an estimate 37 million dollars and a projection of clearing in the high 90 million range for opening weekend, Bautista has already earned the right to say, “you’re welcome.”
|Bloggers in attendance at the Dave Bautista interview (In case you were looking, I’m hard to spot from this angle – second in the back row from Bautista, left side.)|
For more information on GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: