Guardians might have saved him
Dave Bautista is thrilled with his move from wrestling, says Charles Miranda
AFTER two dozen takes on the same oneminute scene on a packed film set an hour west of London, you might expect Dave Bautista to be a bit tired and grizzled.
But the man- mountain actor is grinning from ear to ear and springs off set between takes to announce “this is a dream come true”. And no, he is not being sarcastic. He may be wearing contacts, false teeth and a neck- to- waist prosthetic torso and has had to repeat the same line in an alien- esque guttural voice for more than an hour, but the 44- year- old American couldn’t be happier.
Just as well. Everyone has seen what happens when the former six- time world champion professional wrestler gets angry.
But after his successful switch from wrestling to acting he says he doesn’t care what he has to do, as long as it’s on set.
“I can’t describe it, it’s a dream come true and it’s something I not only wanted but I needed,” Bautista says.
And now he has been in Guardians Of the Galaxy, the latest addition to the Marvel Universe that also includes the Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and Avengers franchises.
It has been a rocky road for the former bad boy of wrestling, but he’s now happy.
Washington- born Bautista is glad to admit he is in a better place than an early childhood when he lived in poverty and was stealing cars by 13.
He became estranged from his parents and lived on the streets before becoming a nightclub bouncer. But he was then charged and convicted of an assault on two patrons and sentenced to one- year probation.
He was already bodybuilding when he joined the junior ranks of professional wrestlers. Within two years he was asked to join World Wrestling Entertainment as a villainous enforcer and by 2005 had won his first world heavyweight championship.
His popularity as a wrestler was sealed. By 2010 he was earning a small fortune when a friend asked whether he would be in a small movie role. He loved it and wanted to do more, but his contract was held by WWE. “I really just fell in love with it,” he recalls. He asked if he could do more but his WWE masters said no and he threatened to resign. They sensed a ploy to get more money and on the eve of his contract expiring, they offered him a huge new deal. He wasn’t bluffing.
“My last day there, there was no celebration or anything, I just walked out the side door by myself, nobody said goodbye to me and I took a gamble,” he says.
“When I left I had no support from them at all. So I had to pound the pavement, audition after audition and try to find parts and it wasn’t easy. Over the last few years I’ve been making very little money.”
After a couple of small roles in straight- to- DVD flicks, in 2012 he got a small role in Man With
the Iron Fists, starring Russell Crowe. The movie was widely panned, but he was not daunted and next landed a role in Vin Diesel’s science- fiction actioner, Riddick. Then he was offered the role in Guardians
Of the Galaxy, this time as a “good guy” named Drax the Destroyer. The eagerly anticipated movie version of the cult comic follows a bunch of ex- con misfits who join forces to defeat a greater evil and stars Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana.
Bautista said he cried “like a baby” when he was offered the part, but more out of frustration and the anti- climatic exit from wrestling.
“I needed this part,” he says. “I didn’t know how much longer I could hold out not making the money and pounding the pavement when my years for wrestling were running out.”
Like his latest character, his says he has turned his life around.
“Here on set I do feel like Drax,” he says. “I do feel like a superhero.”