Dave Bautista seems like he'd be such an intimidating force with his height and shoulder span. But he's surprisingly soft spoken and doesn't command the attention of a room the way one would expect. One can't help but slightly stare at his vast and beautiful ink, sleeved on both arms, peeking out from his jacket sleeves. He's a work of art and his soul sparkles with kindness and humility.
If I had to choose one word to describe him, it would be humble. Dave Bautista made that clear at every step of the way in our exclusive interview with him in Los Angeles last month during the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 press event I attended. He was distracted almost instantly by Tessa's incredible Guardians of the Galaxy tattoo when we started the interview. “That’s so awesome, man,” Dave Bautista said pointing to Tessa's arm.
Keep reading to learn more about Dave Bautista's role as Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
On Drax's more prominent role and his connection with Mantis. Was he excited when he saw that in the script for the first as opposed to the first movie?
Dave: You’re not gonna like this answer. When I first read the script, I wasn’t crazy about it.
This is my initial reaction, when I usually get a script I go over my dialogue first. So, I read over my dialogue, and for one, I was expecting them to go a different direction with Drax. I thought he was gonna be more of the destroyer. I thought he was gonna be a more comic book Drax, and then I realized they were digging more into the funny bits. And I don’t find myself funny at all, so when I was reading these lines I was like, ‘They’re not funny.' And I just didn’t really get ‘em, and I read the script, and I thought, ‘Wow, this is really a great script.' It’s deep. It’s emotional, but I still was a little bit disappointed about my part. And then the first day we did our table read, I realized it was hysterical. And then I just had a completely different outlook on it as a whole. Yeah.
On seeing the film as a finished product
Dave: Okay, well, let me talk about the whole film first. I think it’s beautiful. I like it’s better than the first film. It’s weird. It’s one of things I feel like the more and more we get into film, the more I am sucked into it and there’s certain beats I just sniffle up and I just get so emotionally like invested in this film. And, you know, I felt that the first one—I thought was fun and exciting and some parts were very emotional, but not like this one. I felt like I was just totally absorbed in this film. As far as watching me on film, I just cringe. I just like don’t watching myself on film. It’s just uncomfortable. And last night at the premiere, every time I was on the screen and I knew I was gonna say something, I just kinda put my head down and just try to get through it.
I just don’t like it. I’m just uncomfortable with it.
On seeing himself versus the character when he sees the film
Dave: I have not gotten to that point. Eventually I will, but right now I still me, and I’m still judging myself, and it’s just something that it’s hard for me to do.
On whether hearing us laugh at the funny parts brings relief
Dave: Yeah, it does, but, you know, it’s still—I don’t know how you—it’s so hard to describe, but I don’t like watching myself on screen. It’s just uncomfortable for me. You know, that’s why I don’t watch, like when we were filming and we watched playbacks, everybody knows that I don’t like ‘em.
You know, they call Zoe [Saldana], call Chris [Pratt] to watch the playbacks. They don’t call me to watch playbacks, 'cause they know I won't sit there and watch it.
On Drax's loss of his great love on whether or not he will kindle a new relationship in the future
Dave: No, not if I can have input on it, I would say no, because it’s the root of who Drax is. Drax lives for his heartbreak. You know, he’s just too heartbreaking. I don’t think he’ll ever have a romantic connection with anyone. Never. Yeah.
On whether or not wrestling helped him with his character or acting
Dave: You know, not really, but someone said something to me the other day that kinda resonated a little bit, and I never really put any thought into it. And he said, he was making the comparison, and I said there’s no comparison. I said wrestling is so big and so broad and such a big improvisational physical performance, and acting is so intimate. He said, ‘Yeah, but Drax is so big. He’s so larger than life.' And I never really thought about it, but it really is. So, maybe subconsciously it does help a little bit, 'cause Drax is definitely not who I am.
He’s big and boisterous and a little bit egotistical and proud. And I’m just, you know, and I’m not that. I’m just much more self-conscious and understated. But maybe. I just never really thought much about it, and I never put it in that perspective. But maybe it does have something to do with it, especially when Drax starts laughing. It’s just so big and ridiculous.
On what Dave would like to see from Drax as a character moving forward
Dave: If I had some input in it what I’d really love is for people to have a visual, a name to put with a face. And I’d love if they would actually show Drax’s family.
You know, some of the race of beings that he comes from. I’d like to see more Drax, more people with different tattoos and just that race of people. But I’d really think it would be great if the audience could just have a visual of Drax’s family.
On the make-up process for Drax
Drax: It’s most my body, but actually it’s not bad. It takes about an hour and a half now. On the first film—and that’s kind of a bad day. On the first film it took like 4–6 hours.
You know, it was just like these big sheets of silicone, but it’s like these glue transfers that they have. And it takes about an hour a half. It’s really hard to get off, but otherwise it goes on really fast and I can’t complain. I think regularly Zoe and Karen had like 3-hour make-ups
And I didn’t have that experience at all. I had it really good on this one.
On the chemistry on-set, jokes, and being awkward
Dave: Well, yeah. Not really pranks. There’s no real prankster. [Michael] Rooker’s a bit of a prankster, but, not so much where he would do something to just irritate somebody or have a laugh at somebody’s expense. But a lot of laughs. I think you guys have all interviewed Chris [Pratt], and he just loves making people laugh. You know, and I think sometimes he’s just hysterical not even trying. But just I mean a lot of great chemistry. And we also got really close in the first film. We’ve spent so much time together on press tours and whatnot. And now we’ve actually done like three films together as the Guardians. We’ve done, you know, Guardians 1 and 2 and gone to the Avengers. So, we’ve spent a lot of time together.
The cool thing about that I think had a lot to do with Sara Finn's casting and James [Gunn] as we were all cast, because we had a great chemistry. It just kinda naturally happened. We don’t just overthink it. That was a huge luxury coming into the second one. It’s like felt comfortable with everybody. It didn’t have to feel self-conscious, 'cause they knew I was a little awkward and they kinda accept that about me.
They don’t judge me for it and I know they’re not going to. Sometimes I still get inside my head and self-conscious about it. But I know at the end of the day, they know—even Zoe knows that I— 'cause I have ADD and I zone off quite a bit. Sometimes I’ll zone off and I can hear Zoe going, ‘David. David, where are you?' And she’s like really sweet about and she just kinda accepts it at the end.
You mentioned the Avengers. Anything you wanna share about that?
Dave: I would love to spill the beans. No, I can tell you that we’re in the Avengers. I can tell you this. We’re in the Avengers.
But here was my fear going into the Avengers was that they were gonna try to make us into characters that we weren’t, they were gonna take their of the Guardians and try to go with that and not let us be James Gunn’s Guardians. And it was completely opposite. We had the luxury that James did a lot of the writing for us. And also when we showed up the, Russo brothers was just so encouraging of us being our characters. And a lot of times 'cause we have a certain way of doing things. I mean we’ve done two films. You have the two Guardians films. Chris hardly ever says anything that’s actually on page. You know, he says it a bunch of different time and a bunch of different ways. So, that’s just the way we do things. We bounce and we’re very flexible. And they were just very encouraging of just letting us do things our way.
And they not only that but they really liked it. Like they really appreciate it. A lot of times we would say something that wasn’t even on page, wasn’t even close to what was on page, and they’d come running on, ‘What was that you said on the last take?' And we’d say it again. They’d say, ‘Yeah, do that again.' Yeah, and they just kinda let us be ourselves, man. It was great.
On staying centered in his downtime
Dave: I go home to Tampa and I hide. I do. I live in a regular neighborhood. Where I’m at is very close to MacDill Air Force Base, and I’m surrounded by all military families. It’s just kind of a normal neighborhood. And my wife just really shies away from the spotlight. She doesn’t like it. So, it’s just like real life, and I like being there. I’m very content there, 'cause like all this attention and the spotlight very uncomfortable for me.
And I tell people like that, 'cause nobody really gets it, man, when we’re walking like down the red carpet and they’re saying, ‘Oh, this is great.' And I’m like, ‘For me it’s not.' It’s like, you know, I enjoy it. I don’t hate it, but it’s just, at the same time it’s just overwhelming for me. And I think a lotta people have a hard time relating why that would be overwhelming, especially when they look at what I’ve done for a living, you know, with wrestling and everything being out there in the spotlight. I did it, 'cause I love it. I was passionate about it. That doesn’t mean I was always like super comfortable. I did it because I wanted to step outside of my career zone and pursue my dreams, which is terrifying.
On staying fit and working out
Dave: Well, for one, it’s a lifetime thing for me. It’s a commit thing. You know, it’s so weird, man. I think people expect me to have a certain personality because of the way I look, and I always tell people I look the way I do because of the personality that I have. Because the only place I ever felt comfortable was working out. I just felt like I was a fish put back in water. I felt like I could just do this on my own. It just made me feel good. It made me feel more confident, and that’s why I look the way I do.
It’s just because all my, you know, self-consciousness on the inside, not because I had this personality where I feel like I have to be the biggest guy in the room. So, it’s just somethin' I do. It’s a life commitment for me. You know, so, on days that I’m in make-up, I just can’t work out. But, I watch what I eat and instead of being driven from here to there, which is sometimes ridiculous—sometimes you’re being driven across the street. But I would just walk off the set and I’ll just run from here to there or jog or whatever, a lotta pushups in my trailer or free squats on set when we’re standing there nothin' just to keep my blood flowin’.
Little things like that. Just being conscious and aware of it but also having that thing that internally says that working out just makes me feel better. You know, it just makes me get through the day easier, yeah.
I’ve been invited to an all-expenses paid trip to Los Angeles. As always, all opinions are my own.
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