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   November 28, 2014



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Bautista lets his inner nerd out
By STEVE TILLEY - Toronto Sun


Dave Bautista. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni


Drax the Destroyer, meet Iron Man. Iron Man, this is Drax.

Fans of the Marvel cinematic universe love to imagine some of the superheroic crossovers that could happen in future instalments of the comic book films. Dave Bautista is one of those fans.

Bautista, the former WWE superstar who plays the hulking, heavily scarred alien warrior Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy, would be stoked to see his group of spacefaring rogues meet the Avengers, if only for the face-to-face between Drax and Tony Stark, played in the movies by Robert Downey Jr.

“I think Drax would be hysterical playing off of Tony Stark,” said Bautista, in Toronto for the red carpet premiere of Marvel’s buzzed-about space opera, opening Friday.

“Stark is just such a sarcastic wiseass, and I think with Drax taking everything so literally there would just be some hysterical moments,” said Bautista. “And I think Tony Stark is the type of character who would take advantage of that and just needle him half to death.”


Bautista has clearly given this some thought. As have fans, who are hoping – or in some cases, flatly assuming – that the Guardians will meet up with Earth’s mightiest heroes sooner or later. After all, the two super-groups share a common foe in the form of the powerful villain Thanos, glimpsed in The Avengers’ post-credits scene and voiced by Josh Brolin in Guardians of the Galaxy.

“I think every fanboy and fangirl in the world wants to see it,” said Bautista. “And Marvel’s pretty good at delivering for the fans.”

Bautista, who rose to WWE superstardom under the ring name Batista, had to fight just for the chance to audition for Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn. After months of callbacks, during which Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones’ Khal Drogo) was offered the role but declined, Bautista finally got the part. And he literally wept with joy.

“I don’t know if it’s sunk in yet. It’s so weird, man,” he said. “It starts to settle in a little, and then something else happens that just makes it seem more surreal.”

Something like, say, having a Lego toy modelled after him. Bautista is no stranger to action figure likenesses from his WWE days, but “I’ve never had a Lego. When they had the Drax Lego, I was so excited!”

For all his muscles and tattoos and bravado in the wrestling ring, Bautista is actually something of an introvert, especially compared to Guardians of the Galaxy co-stars Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana, who constantly joked around on set. “I enjoyed that, watching them entertain each other,” Bautista said. “And they never made me feel odd about being quiet, they never made me feel like an outsider or an outcast. They always kind of embraced my quietness. Zoe would make fun and tease me about it, but they never made me feel awkward about it.”

The prosthetics and makeup required to transform Bautista into Drax took a crew of five makeup artists at least four hours to apply each day. But it wasn’t as bad as it sounds, he said. “It was really just like hanging out with my buddies every morning. All I was doing was standing there, they were doing all the work.”

And the flexible silicone attachments covering nearly all of his upper body? “Besides feeling dirty – I felt filthy every day – it just felt like I had a really tight short on.”

Though he had small parts in The Man with the Iron Fists and Riddick, Drax is by far the biggest role of his career. In between Guardians of the Galaxy sequels and cameos – Bautista won’t reveal how many movies he’s contracted for, but he says he definitely expects to be in 2017’s Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – he hopes to go after less action-centric parts. “I want to do more dialogue-driven roles, I want to do character roles,” he said “I don’t want to necessarily pursue the action avenue, I just want to act.”

He’d also welcome the opportunity to return to the wrestling ring – Bautista was the longest-reigning world heavyweight champ in WWE history – even if the face of wrestling itself has changed since he went on hiatus in 2010.

“It’s another form of performing for me, which I love,” he said. “And I feel like a lot of the art of professional wrestling is being lost. I really do. It’s so different, even now, even in the four years that I left it’s changed so much. A lot of the psychology in professional wrestling has totally gone out the window, and they’re focusing more on the TV stuff.

“I think it’s just because the company has grown so much. They've got a different format now, a different way of doing things. But I love it. And I don’t mind being the dinosaur in the company.”

RELATED LINKS

  • Batista bio and story archive
  • The SLAM! Wrestling Movie Database