Dave Bautista on Building His Career and Why He Looks For Ways to “Take Away” From His Physicality

Theatre

“I don’t need to be a lead, I don’t need to have a big part in a film. I will literally play any part as long as the character’s interesting or I’m working with interesting people.” – Dave Bautista

In just a few years actor Dave Bautista went from “isn’t he a wrestler?” to Marvel superhero glory as Drax the Destroyer in the Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers movies. Of course, he has appeared in many other films over the last fifteen years, including Zack Snyder’s new Netflix movie Army of the Dead. In an interview with Vulture about the film, Bautista describes why he believes he’s been able to maintain a acting career that is more interesting than the standard “action hero” path.

Though Bautista could very easily have carved out a worthwhile career as a direct-to-video action movie star based on his physique alone, he points out that he has taken on numerous roles that instead soften his character’s physicality, such as in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, Stuber, and My Spy. He explains,  “I think a lot of guys who would be playing action stars are looking for ways to make themselves more alpha, more masculine, more heroic. I’m always looking for the opposite. I’m looking for ways to kind of take away from my stature and physicality, to make me more vulnerable. It was something that I learned about myself in professional wrestling, and it’s been the same in film. So, I do little things. When I carry myself, I don’t always have my chest out or have pumped-out arms. I don’t want to look like an action figure. I want to humanize myself and make myself more relatable — which is not easy to do when you’re built like a gorilla. Anything I can do to take away from my physicality helps, and glasses seem to go a long way.”

Similarly, Bautista has been in a variety of billings in his acting career — from main star to character actor to supporting actor to comic relief. He admits that this is by design because his goal is to go for the best roles offered to him regardless of the size of the part. He says, “I think it has a lot to do with the way I’ve been building my career. It has a lot to do with the way I’ve built relationships and proven myself. I have proven that I can deliver. It also has a lot to do with me being very open-minded and willing to play any character that’s interesting. I don’t need to be a lead, I don’t need to have a big part in a film. I will literally play any part as long as the character’s interesting or I’m working with interesting people.”

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