Drax the Destroyer sounds like a name right out of the pro wrestling world.
In actuality it’s the name of the jacked and tatted-up character from the “Guardians of the Galaxy” comic and upcoming movie, opening Aug. 1in the United States.
The cinematic adaptation sees him portrayed by former WWE champion Dave Bautista, who will never forget receiving the news he got the part in the big budget Marvel film.
“To say it was emotional would be an understatement, by far,” Bautista said during his recent press stop in Miami. “It was a life-changing moment for me. There was a bunch of auditioning and a screen test, but it was really over four years leaving behind my bread and butter of WWE. Leaving that career behind after 10 plus years and taking a chance because I wanted to do this so bad. It was that one moment when I got that phone call that I just broke down. It was like, ‘Man. It was worth it.’”
If Hollywood was a college, you could say Bautista graduated and got his degree working on his most involved project to date. The grappler left his life as a full-time in-ring performer behind in 2010 with aspirations to be an actor. This was easier said than done. He approached the challenge as he did with WWE. He honed his craft and was driven to succeed.
Fans will find Drax is not only similar to the Batista persona they are accustomed to on “Monday Night Raw,” but the man himself. Drax had to continue on living after his wife and child was killed. The Washington D.C. native had to deal with his own tragedies and obstacles to overcome at an early age, growing up in poverty and finding residence in some rough neighborhoods.
“It’s one of those things I think people always see me as this big, tough, strong guy,” he said. “They don’t really see me as anything else. I’ve never been the type of guy who really holds back my feelings for people. If I love them, I tell them. I kind of wear my heart on my sleeve. I’m not afraid to shed a tear. I think Drax is the same way. I think that is what I brought to him and why I think [Director] James [Gunn] wanted me for the part. He said to me once that I had actions to my emotions. I think that’s why he wanted me because I don’t think he wanted Drax to just be a tough guy. I think he wanted him to have that love and emotion he had for his family. People need to see that heartbreak.”
Along with Guardians, Bautista also has roles in movies such as “The Man with the Iron Fists” and “Riddick.” However, as the powerhouse of Guardians, he really showcases his overall talent. He is a butt-kicker, but he also provides subtle comedic timing and reveals a softer side.
Bautista is joined by a star-studded cast that includes Glenn Close, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, John C. Riley, Michael Rooker, Zoe Saldana and Chris Pratt.
“I connected with Pratt right off the bat,” Bautista said. “From our first screen test, I just felt good chemistry. It would probably be hard for anybody not to feel chemistry with that guy because he is just such a loveable dude. Right off the bat I connected with him and James, too. From the first moment I met James I connected with him.”
When it comes to pro wrestlers parlaying their success into a full-fledged acting career Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is at the top of the list. He set the bar and continues to raise it. Even though the Hollywood heavyweight proved a lot of people wrong and opened a lot of eyes, Bautista feels it didn’t make his trek into films any smoother.
“This was four years for me, and I couldn’t get an agent,” he said. “After being on TV for 10 years, I couldn’t even get an agent to represent me. So it wasn’t easy by any means to break into films. It was rough.”
In any business or profession there are mentors who help and guide you on your way. When it came to WWE, Bautista had Triple H and Ric Flair. With all the projects he takes on the budding actor makes sure to have his eyes and ears open.
“I took some roles even though I didn’t think they were the greatest roles, but I took them because I wanted to get experience,” Bautista said. “I knew that certain actors were attached and I wanted to work with them. [In WWE] I wanted to work with Triple H, just like I wanted to work with Ric Flair. I wanted to work with Dominic Purcell. I wanted to work with Billy Zane. I wanted to be on the same set as Russell Crowe. I took these films because I knew I was going be next to great actors.
“…Vin Diesel, I can’t explain how beneficial he has been to my career. He really is. He was the first mega star to pull me aside and offer me advice and tell me to try this and try that. ‘It’s okay. Get off the page a little bit. Try to make it your own.’ He was the first guy to do that for me.”
Guardians will no doubt increase his presence in Tinseltown, but that doesn’t mean his days of being “The Animal” in WWE are over. Bautista returned to the company earlier this year winning the Royal Rumble and participating in the WrestleMania XXX main event. Despite adding more accolades to his already impressive resume, things didn’t exactly go the way he expected. Fans weren’t necessarily welcoming him with open arms. No matter if they cheer or boo him, he plans to lace up the boots again. Like Drax, Bautista is no quitter.
• About “Guardians of the Galaxy”
“Guardians of the Galaxy” opens in theaters on Aug. 1.
From Marvel, the studio that brought you the global blockbuster franchises of “Iron Man,” “Thor,” “Captain America” and “The Avengers,” comes a new team—the “Guardians of the Galaxy.” An action-packed, epic space adventure, Marvel's “Guardians of the Galaxy” expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the cosmos, where brash adventurer Peter Quill finds himself the object of an unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan, a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the entire universe.
To evade the ever-persistent Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a quartet of disparate misfits—Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon, Groot, a tree-like humanoid, the deadly and enigmatic Gamora and the revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer. But when Quill discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must do his best to rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand—with the galaxy's fate in the balance.
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