Dave Bautista could not have been a better choice by director James Gunn to play Drax the Destroyer in Guardians of the Galaxy. We met Bautista for an exclusive interview on the Disney lot in Burbank, and after witnessing the incredible magic that is Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy, the world should be ready for a whole different kind of actor in the form of this former wrestler.
Drax requires a deep emotional performance. He is one of the five misfits that become the Guardians of the Galaxy to fight the evil Ronan the Accuser. Drax is joined by Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill, aka Star Lord, Zoe Saldana’s Gamora and Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and his sidekick Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel).
Bautista talks about the pull of the role, his excitement for the audience to see Pratt announce himself as a bona fide movie star and how filming in London brought together a real life group of souls who would become the most unlikely group of friends, on screen and off.
Movie Fanatic: The effort by James to bring this all together and conquer with it is so unbelievably impressive. When you take away one thing from him and this entire experience, what would it be?
Dave Bautista: I felt the whole way along, from the audition to the moment we wrapped -- I had the last shot of the film with James, so we wrapped it together -- what I took away was that this is fun. We have this dream job to have fun. Are we really getting paid for this? It was like we were little kids playing in a make-believe world making a movie about superheroes. It was so much fun, and with James, we were laughing like every other second. A lot of times when you get two-three hours of sleep, you don’t want to wake up and go to work. That was not the case here. I got up and was excited. I got to hang out with guys like Chris, who is just hysterical and he always set the tone and he’s really a group leader.
Movie Fanatic: What struck me in Guardians of the Galaxy is that Drax is a character with a surprising amount of emotional layers. He’s really deep. Was that one of the big draws for you playing him? He’s not just the muscle.
Dave Bautista: That was the total draw. That’s what made me fall in love with him. It also made me love it from a career standpoint because it’s been hard for people to see me after wrestling as anything other than that guy beating people up with chairs [laughs]. Drax, even in the first Guardians of the Galaxy trailer, people thought he was going to be the shirtless muscle that was cutting everybody’s heads off. I don’t think they thought that he would be anything more. I think when more people see it, they’ll see that there is much more to him. It’s really all heart. He’s dealt with a lot of pain. I think it makes him interesting.
Movie Fanatic: What also makes him interesting is his actual dialogue. It’s English, but it’s almost intergalactic Shakespearean. Was that a challenge to wrap your tongue around?
Dave Bautista: That was a huge challenge for me. It sounds like a simple thing, but it wasn’t. There are certain words he uses that just don’t pop in my head. There’s a point in the movie where I have to say “behold.” I don’t think before that I have ever actively used that word [laughs]. I had to get it out and make it feel natural. Even when he refers to Star Lord as “companion,” it’s such an odd thing to say, man.
Movie Fanatic: I have a feeling to get that look -- you had to spend hours and hours in a makeup chair. Was it zen-like? Was it relaxing? Or was it a chore and a royal pain in the butt?
Dave Bautista: You would think I would have been productive with the time [laughs]. But, I just zoned out!
Movie Fanatic: I would think you would!
Dave Bautista: I didn’t think about much at all. I just meditated. My makeup team, there were five of them and the conversation was going all over the place with them. Hearing five very creative minds talking about what is on their mind, that’s entertaining!
Movie Fanatic: You mentioned Chris Pratt and I think a lot of people are going to be really impressed with him in this role. What most impressed you about Chris?
Dave Bautista: People are going to be amazed with Chris in terms of the physical transformation because it was pretty impressive. I had only known Chris as a funny guy. But, when he did the rally-the-troops speech, that was the moment that Chris is really a (expletive) movie star. He has chops. We were doing the scene, and he got me choked up to the point of tears! They're going to get sucked into his performance and he carries the film in the most amazing ways.
Movie Fanatic: Lastly, did filming Guardians of the Galaxy in London help bond you all? It’s a cast full of Americans and you’re off in a foreign country.
Dave Bautista: I think so, particularly with Chris and I. We were among the first to get there and we just had each other. He left his family behind and I left my girl, we lived in the same area in London. We would go out to eat, go to the gym, we really bonded. And I think you can tell when people have an organic chemistry off screen on the screen. We had that.