Dave Bautista is not your typical actor. While his film resume remains relatively new, Bautista has spent many years entertaining and performing through his career at WWE as “Batista.”
Yet, Bautista managed to beat out many other actors and earn a role in a coveted Marvel film as Drax the Destroyer in “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
“I had no idea who Drax was,” Bautista admitted in an interview with Miami media in July. “[My agent] told me he was sending me in for the role, and it was a big role, and I was like, 'Yeah, great this is going to be my big break.' But then I got the audition side, and I was like, 'What the hell?' I didn’t get [Drax] at all.”
Drax the Destroyer is an unintentionally hilarious warrior, who initially joins Peter Quill/Starlord (Chris Pratt) in protecting the orb to extract revenge against Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace), who killed his wife and child.
Despite his initial reservation to Drax, he was encouraged by his acting coach to research the character.
“I called my acting coach and said, “I can’t do this. I don’t relate. I just don’t get it.” He’s like a huge comic nerd, so he was so excited and was like, 'Just do some research on him and call me back.' … I saw one picture, and it was one of the most recent art concepts of Drax, and he just looked big and menacing and I got that. It looked familiar; it looked like me.”
Bautista landed the role as Drax, but what came as a surprise was the grueling four-hour make-up process that turned the 6-foot-6 wrestler into a grey-skinned alien with red-textured scarring all over his upper body; and then, after filming, the 90-minute make-up removal.
But his make-up team made things slightly easier. "They always had music on, and there was always lots of good jokes and the hours kind of flew by," he said.
But he confessed the time wasn’t the issue. “When it started getting into consecutive days – four days in a row, five days in a row, six days in a row – that’s when [my skin] became really sensitive and really scratchy. The cool thing was [my make-up team] was always aware, and they never looked at me as a mannequin, and they always knew what I was going through.”
Even though he says the make-up was functional and had movement, it became a problem during the hot days. “Hot days, I would sweat into it. It doesn’t breathe, so they would have to come and drain it. It sounds pretty gross, but they would come, poke it and drain it.”
Bautista's acting abilities were also tested as he handled emotional scenes.
“It’s a weird thing … putting your emotions out there for everybody to see while filming. I think it puts you in a kind of vulnerable state. I internalize everything, keep everything inside. I’m not used to spilling my guts, and when you have to do that on film to make a point, it’s hard. It’s rough. I don’t think it’s as easy as people think.”
In the film, two of the Guardians are a talking raccoon and his best friend, a talking tree. As Marvel tinkered with the CGI for those two characters, the rest of human-like cast didn’t have to talk to thin air.
“A lot of the stuff with the CGI, we had very talented actors who worked as stand-ins. We weren’t always looking at empty space, we actually had people we were working with who were really talented.”
Along with Bautista, Zoe Saldana and Chris Pratt take part in the Guardians of Galaxy team, and Bautista wasn’t afraid to admit that he was the “rookie” on set.
“Stepping in, I was kind of new to it and suddenly stepping in set with Zoe Saldana and Chris Pratt, I was totally the rookie. But it was cool because they never made me feel odd. They always knew… and James [Gunn] was real good about making sure people knew that I didn’t have a whole lot of experience.”
“They … treated me as one of the peers, not as the weak link.”
Marvel Studios has yet to confirm whether “Guardians of the Galaxy” will get a sequel, but Bautista has one wish if it does.
“If there was a sequel, I would hope they would tell more of the back story of Drax.”
And will there be more of Bautista in other superhero action films?
“In regards to the action, superhero genre, this is as big as it’s going to get. It’s not going to get bigger or better. I never set out to be an action star. This role allowed me to break away from that WWE wrestler, and I’ve been looking for that for a long freaking time.”Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun