Dave Bautista Talks Guardians, Stunt Doubles, and Acting
I’ve seen Dave Bautista before, it was at my first WWE Wrestling event with my husband, son, and two nephews. I still remember his larger than life personality in the ring that night performing to the crowds. I was excited about the interview because I know my nephews would love to hear about the experience once I could share the details. He was our first scheduled interview for the day. We sat waiting in a long unfinished room off the make shift cafeteria on set. We sat on a folding chair waiting for him to arrive, he walks in and his presence immediately fills the space. He sits down, says hello to the group and starts talking. This Bautista is nothing like the one I’d seen a few years ago in the ring. His voice was low and mellow, he was like night and day from his wrestling persona.
We started off asking him how he felt about being back on set with the Guardians family.
It’s awesome. It’s so weird ‘cause for the first film it was a reoccurring role for me, so it was weird because now I got to be part of the screen testing process rather than screen testing for myself. I also realized how comfortable I was in the role. When I watched the first film I can see that I transitioned from being like very nervous and very uncomfortable to being very comfortable and also being comfortable on a big set, ‘cause it was a huge deal for me.
That was my first really huge film. But yeah, it’s just been so great, cause we all know each other. We spent so much time together not only on the first film but also like on the press tour. We spent a lot of time together. So we all got to be like really close. Especially when we were in London because we really only had each other to really kind of lean on, you know, ‘cause we were foreigners in a foreign country, making this film, and nobody really knew what to expect from it. We all got really close so, yeah, we’re like family.
During the interview Bautista was in full make-up, that made us ask about the process and how long it takes to achieve his character’s look.
It’s awesome, because the first film, like if we got it done in four hours on the first film, it was great, it was a great day. I mean, everybody was celebrating. This one is like an hour and a half at the most. But the thing is, ‘cause it’s a whole new system they’re using, and it’s so funny they attack me with these — they used to just dab on the paint and that’s how they started the process. Now they attack me with paint rollers. There’s like five guys rolling paint, and then there’s other stuff too.
The tattoos were actually sheets of silicone on the first one. Now they’re just transferred so all of these are individual, like they’re glue. They’re moldings of glue so they stick on to me, but also it’s very hard to get off. So at the end of the day I sit in the sauna for about an hour and I sit there and I kind of start to really sweat it off, and start to peel it off of me. So but still, it’s so fast now it’s not even an issue.
Some of the ladies in the room interviewed Bautista before prior to the opening of the last film, they asked him did he realize the film would be such a success.
It’s weird, and it is one of those things where like we just didn’t know. Nobody knew, and we weren’t gonna know until after the opening weekend. And then after the opening weekend everybody was just sitting around like in shock, ‘cause not only did it do as well as we were hoping but it did way better than that. I mean, it was like breaking records, so it was great.
We tried to get him to open up about his relationship with the new character Mantis who we’d seen in drawings early that day.
I don’t know what’s safe to say without getting in trouble. Well I also don’t want to give anything away, either. But yeah, I will say Mantis and Drax definitely make a connection. It’s probably not the connection most people are going to expect or that people might be reading into, but definitely a connection.
We wanted to know what he loved about playing this character compared to others he’s protrayed in the past.
You know what I love most about him, I think, is that he is not what people expect. Like when I did the first one, I think people expected Drax to be a certain way, and James went the totally opposite way with him, ‘cause, you know, if you take a big guy and he looks menacing and he looks terrified, it’s easy to be that guy on screen, you know? You growl a lot, you snarl a lot, you cut people’s heads off and it’s easy. There’s just nothing challenging about it. But to be that guy and look that way, but then to make people laugh, you know, I think is the challenge. And I think that’s the fun part, and that’s what I love about Drax. I think it’s fair to say that there’s a lot more of that in this film. I think Drax just has a bigger role in this film. I think he struck a chord with people in the first film. James get a real kick out of writing for Drax.
We were curious about how a typical day on set went for the actor since it seems like he had an early start.
It’s been really structured. Usually we come in first thing in the morning, and my typical pickup time would be about 4:30, 5, come in, do my makeup and we’re usually right on set and we stay on set. We run a 10-hour day. So we don’t have like lunch breaks, we don’t go and chill for an hour. Usually we come and we eat on set and we hang out on set. You know, whatever we do once we get to set, we’re usually on set for the rest of the day. Then we wrap and I go hit the sauna.
He also shared that they are not really on set late, they usually start the day around 8 AM, and usually wrap around 6 PM. The only time they run late is if they started late, with their latest day baing till 8 PM. He talked about laughing and hanging out in set, so we asked about what scene was the hardest for him to film.
Oh, there’s been more than a few. There’s been quite a few. If I have a close-up because, you know, sometimes when you’re off camera you’re not so much into it so when you’re off camera you’re more likely to smile and laugh at the scene as, you know, more of a spectator rather than being in the scene as an actor. And a lot of times when I will do my close-up and I have to deliver these lines very straight-faced but they’re funny, funny lines, and Zoe will just start laughing at me off camera or Chris will start laughing. And I have to say stop laughing, ‘cause once I get the giggles, everybody gets the giggles. There’s a lot of that in this film ‘cause the script is just, it’s just so funny, just so well-written and so funny.
We talked about what’s one thing he wanted for his character, and he said, wishfully, I want to be in Avengers. Overall though he’s happy about his character and the way he was created. We wanted to know was he starting to feel pressure to deliver Drax to the audience.
Way less pressure, ‘cause I’m already so comfortable, and now I feel like I am Drax and I own Drax, he’s my character. Of course the brain behind Drax is James but James has written this role for me. You know, he knows what my strengths are now and he’s written it for me and he just has a good idea of what/who Drax should be and he also, I think he really knows how fans want Drax to be as well.
When you look at Bautista you wouldn’t think he had much preparation to get ready for filming, but we asked what he did to prepare.
That’s so funny you ask because I, you know, I didn’t really train for the last one. And I had the luxury of the big sheets of latex and I came in and did the first makeup test for this film, I was like wow, I really have to be in shape for this. Because the makeup is unforgiving, I mean, it doesn’t hide anything. I actually trained rigorously for this and I still do. I can’t train on the days that we work but the days that I’m off, people always say what do you do with your days off? I worked out, I train, you know? Yeah, I’ve been hitting it hard so, ‘cause, you know, I want to deliver. I want Drax to look the part as well so yeah, I really took this more seriously, diving and training, so hopefully it’ll show.
Since he was training so much, we wanted to know if he was doing any special stunts for this film.
Not any special stunts. You know, I have the same stuntman from the first film, who I met him on that film. It was really hard finding a stunt double for me for a while. And they found him for me on that film and I’ve dragged him across the world. He’s been on three other films with me since then. It’s hard to find a big guy who’s like super athletic but also really experienced. And he just fits the bill man, and I’ve dragged him around, as long as I can continue to drag him around the world with me, I will because he’s just such a great stuntman.
‘Cause, you know people may think that I’m a professional wrestler and I can do my own stunts. You know, sometimes I don’t want to do my own stunts. There was a part where they set the character on fire. And I was like stuntman, please. I don’t want to be set on fire. You know, I did my 10 years in WWE. I’ve proved that I’m tough enough. I don’t have anything to prove.
One of the last things we talked to the professional wrestler and actor about was what he wanted families to take away from the film.
I have a great answer for that, or an easy answer for that, I don’t know if it’s great. And I’m afraid to say it because I don’t want to give away too much of the storyline, but there is an answer to that and there is a great message in this film. I’m gonna pass on that.
While he couldn’t share about what he wants people to take away from the film, he had a wonderful message for little boys who look up to his character.
I can’t think of one off the top of my head but, you know, I think that even the message from the first one, even more so with this one is just sometimes you have to think about the greater good rather than yourself, you know? I think that was the message in the first one and I think that will be again in the second one. I think this film even more so is about family. And without giving too much away, I don’t want to say much more but I think this one is much more about family and friendships. And, and when I say friendships I mean sometimes your friends are your family. And sometimes you choose your family. I think you get a lot more of that in this one.
You can see Bautista as Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 in theaters starting May 5th, 2017.