Dave Bautista Is Relieved To Be Done With Drax, And Frankly, His Post-Marvel Career Has The Makings Of Something Special

Albert L. Ortega. Getty Images.


"I'm so grateful for Drax. I love him. But there's a relief [that it's over]. It wasn't all pleasant. It was hard playing that role. The makeup process was beating me down. And I just don’t know if I want Drax to be my legacy—it’s a silly performance, and I want to do more dramatic stuff. 

"[…] Honestly, I could give a fuck [about being a movie star]. I don't live a great big glamorous life. I live here in Tampa. I don't care about the spotlight, I don't care about fame. I just want to be a better actor. I want respect from my peers. I don't need accolades—I really don't, man. It's about the experience, about knowing that I accomplished something."

You can obviously tell that Dave Bautista has a certain appreciation for his breakout role in Guardians of the Galaxy, but I 100% understand his desire to move on to something with a little more dramatic substance.

That's not to say James Gunn's Guardians films don't have depth, thematic weight or gravitas, nor am I blaming or being critical of Gunn for giving Bautista the role he has in the ensemble. The third and final movie of that trilogy is due out on May 5, and I'm ready for a zany, irreverent and emotional conclusion to the series. However, Bautista's Drax the Destroyer is a hyper-literal, hilarious supporting player and functions almost exclusively as comic relief.

Especially when you're first entering the acting world, you're often pigeonholed and "typecast" as what you're immediately believable as when you walk into the audition room. Makes sense. Sure, the first several names on the call sheet might have the chance to wear transformative prosthetics and do in-depth character work, but the rest of the cast is typically filled with people who innately fit the role.

Coming from the professional wrestling world, Bautista took a decidedly different path from Dwayne Johnson. He did his best to pull away from pure action-driven movies in favor of, as he says, "more dramatic stuff." Good on him for doing so.

As can be seen in his turns being directed by Denis Villeneuve in Dune and especially in Blade Runner 2049, there's no question Bautista has some serious acting chops that extend beyond pure comedy. The scene below capitalizes on Bautista's quiet strength, vulnerability and incredible physicality within a matter of two minutes, as he holds his own opposite Ryan Gosling.

I'm not discounting at all what Bautista has done for Marvel. Nailing such a specific sense of humor with the Drax character is not at all easy, yet Bautista makes it seem so.

In that GQ profile, though, Bautista says of Villeneuve: "If I could be a number one [on the callsheet] with Denis, I would do it for fucking free. I think that’s how I could find out how good I could be. He brings out the best in me. He sees me in a different light, sees the performer that I want to be."

Rian Johnson just worked with Bautista on Glass Onion, and hyped up the actor's ability to expand his horizons. The notion of someone offering Bautista a hefty dramatic part is "genius" according to Johnson, and I don't think he's wrong at all.

The good news for Bautista is he's already shown a great deal of versatility and range in his career. Going to straight drama is a logical next step. It also takes a willing actor to dig into some of that heavy shit and tackle that challenge head-on. It's so cool how bold Bautista is and how few fucks he gives about whatever anyone else has to say about the "traditional" next steps he should take in his acting career. He's carved his own path to this point and had tons of success. No reason to doubt him now as it appears his best work is ahead of him.

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Nerdy afterword: James Gunn has basically built his comic book movie career off making lemonade out of lemony, weird-ass characters like Marvel's Guardians, and DC's Suicide Squad and Peacemaker. Before all that he made a super underrated, quirky, Rainn Wilson-led film called Super. Many are concerned about Gunn being the co-lead of DC's movie slate at Warner Bros. I'm quite the opposite. Given how well Gunn has fared bringing emotion and heart to such oddball [anti]heroes, I'm pretty damn amped for him to branch out — in a sort of parallel to Dave Bautista, hence this whole aside — and see how he can apply those storytelling instincts to a more widely known, celebrated and pure hero like Superman.