I think we can all agree that Dave Bautista seems like an intimidating man. I will tell you that he is bigger in person – but much less intimidating. As he walked in to the interview room on the set of Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 last year – in full Drax costume and makeup – I was a little bit speechless. What a force walking through that door – what an incredible sight! I am a giant Guardians of the Galaxy fan and to see Drax sitting in front of me was pretty amazing. But Dave is probably one of the sweetest, soft-spoken, and down-to-Earth guys I have ever met. We had a great conversation about how he felt about coming back to the set, how long it takes for him to become Drax, and he what he loves about his character.
First Reoccuring Role
When Dave was asked what it was like to be back on the Guardians of the Galaxy set, he told us it was awesome.
“This is my first reoccurring role for me, so it was weird because I got to be part of the screen testing process rather than screen testing for myself. I realized how comfortable I was in the role. When I watched the first film, I can see that I transitioned from being very nervous and very uncomfortable to being very comfortable and also being comfortable on a big set, because it was a huge deal for me. That was my first really huge film. We spent so much time together, not only on the first film, but also on the press tour. So we all got to be really close. Especially when we were in London because we really only had each other to lean on – because we were foreigners in a foreign country. Making this film, nobody really knew what to expect from it. We all got close – we’re like family.”
It is strange to watch an actor as good as Dave Bautista and realize that Drax was his first major (and now first reoccurring) role. He played Drax perfectly, my husband (who is also a huge Guardians fan) agrees with me on that. We were blown away by his portrayal of him in the first one, and cannot wait to see what he evolves in to in Volume 2. We asked him if he felt more or less pressure taking on Drax for a second time and he said way less pressure.
“I’m already so comfortable, and now I feel like I am Drax and I own Drax – he’s my character. The brain behind Drax is James [Gunn] but James has written this role for me. He knows what my strengths are now and he’s written it for me. He has a good idea of who Drax should be and he really knows how fans want Drax to be as well. He knows what they’re expecting. I feel so comfortable in the role and it’s been much, much easier and no pressure. There’s a little bit of pressure now that I watched Captain America [Civil War] and it was so well-done. I was like wow, it’s a hard act to follow – Marvel just keeps stepping it up, man. They just keep stepping it up.” I couldn’t agree with him more. It sure is a great time to be a Marvel fan!
As I mentioned, Dave was in full Drax-mode because he was filming that day. It was definitely a site to see, and so we asked him to tell us a little bit about the whole makeup and costume process.
“If we got it done in four hours on the first film, it was great, it was a great day. I mean, everybody was celebrating. This one is an hour and a half at the most – because it’s a whole new system they’re using. They used to just dab on the paint and that’s how they started the process. Now they attack me with paint rollers – there’s five guys rolling paint. The tattoos were actually sheets of latex on the first [set], now they are transferred so all of these are individual. They are moldings of glue so they stick on to me, but also it’s very hard to get off. So at the end of the day I sit in the sauna for about an hour – I sit there and I start to really sweat it off – and they come and start to peel it off of me. It’s so fast now it’s not even an issue. On hot days I’ll take this off and the glue will look like string cheese. It’s really not bad compared to the first one. The first one was rough.”
Being in Physical Shape
We asked Dave how he got physically prepared for this role, “that’s so funny you ask because I didn’t really train for the last one. I had the luxury of the big sheets of latex. I came in and did the first makeup test for this film [and] I was like wow, I really have to be in shape for this – the makeup is unforgiving, it doesn’t hide anything. So I trained rigorously for this and I still do. I can’t train on the days that we work but the days that I’m off I work out out. I [go] to the gym sometimes twice a day. I’ve been hitting it hard because I want to deliver. I want Drax to look the part as well so I took this more seriously, diving in and training, so hopefully it’ll show.”
The Success of Volume One
I had great confidence that Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 1 would be amazing. I know that many people were skeptical or just had no idea how it would do, but not me. I am such a fan of the comics, I knew that it would do well – but even I didn’t know how well. We asked Dave how he felt about the success of first film.
“It’s weird. It is one of those things where we just, we didn’t know. Nobody knew, and we were not going know until after the opening weekend – then after the opening weekend everybody was sitting around in shock. Not only did it do as well as we were hoping, but it did way better than that. It was breaking records – it was great. It felt satisfying because we all believed in it – we knew it was going to be great – but you just don’t know until people actually come out. Then you start to get the reviews and the reviews are so great. I mean, out of 1,000 reviews, you might get one negative comment. But they would say all in all it was great, but one little negative comment. It was really, really satisfying.”
Drax and Mantis
Mantis is a new character that is being introduced in GotG Volume 2, and Dave was asked about her relationship with Drax. He told us that he couldn’t say much, because he didn’t want to give anything away (or get in trouble). “I will say Mantis and Drax definitely make a connection. It’s probably not the connection most people are going to expect or that people might be reading into, but definitely a connection. I think that people have to remember, fans have to remember, that the heart of Drax is his heartbreak over his family so I don’t think there’s ever gonna be that next love interest for Drax. I think he had that love interest, she’s gone, and that’s what he’s driven by – that heartbreak.”
What the Future Holds for Drax
We asked Dave if there was one thing he would like to see for his character, and the answer had us all laughing! “Well I’d like to see my character in The Avengers. This is wishful thinking. Otherwise, I’m pretty satisfied with the character. He’s actually more than I ever thought he could be or really wished that he could be. I have to give a lot of credit to James for that. He’s been the creative mind behind Drax. I think he’s really created an incredible character.”
I personally love so many things about Drax, like how literal he is, but we asked Dave what he loves about his character.
“You know what I love most about him is that he is not what people expect. When I did the first one, I think people expected Drax to be a certain way, and James went the totally opposite way with him. If you take a big guy and he looks menacing and he looks terrifying, it’s easy to be that guy on screen. You growl a lot, you snarl a lot, you cut people’s heads off and it’s easy – [but] there’s nothing challenging about it. To be that guy and look that way, but then to make people laugh, I think is the challenge. I think that’s the fun part – and that’s what I love about Drax.”
“I think it’s fair to say that there’s a lot more of that in this film. Drax has a bigger role in this film – I think he struck a chord with people in the first film. James [Gunn] get a real kick out of writing for Drax. I know that he does because we will sit there and we read and he just laughs and laughs and laughs. When I deliver the lines that he’s written, I can hear him laughing. I know he’s amused by it, so I know he really loves the character.”
Trying Not to Laugh
Playing off the comedy of Drax, we asked Dave if there was one scene in particular that it was hard for him to keep a straight face. I go back to the scene from the first film, where he says “Nothing goes over my head, my reflexes are too fast.” I am even laughing just typing that – I love that scene. Dave told us that there was more than a few that were hard for him. “There’s been quite a few. A lot of times when I will do my close-up and I have to deliver these lines very straight-faced but they’re funny, funny lines, and Zoe will just start laughing at me off camera or Chris will start laughing. And I have to say stop laughing because once I get the giggles, everybody gets the giggles. But there’s a lot of that in this film because the script is so funny – just so well-written and so funny.”
Doing His Own Stunts?
The last thing we asked Dave about was his stunts – does he have a stunt double, does he do a lot of his own stunts? “I have the same stuntman from the first film. I met him on that film. It was really hard finding a stunt double for me for a while. They found him for me on that film and I’ve dragged him around the world. He’s been on three other films with me since then because he’s great. It’s hard to find a big guy who’s super athletic but also really experienced. He just, he fits the bill and I’ve dragged him around – as long as I can continue to drag him around the world with me, I will because he’s just such a great stuntman. Many people may think that I’m a professional wrestler and I can do my own stunts.”
“Sometimes I don’t want to do my own stunts, you know? There was a part where they set the character on fire and I was like stuntman, please, I don’t want to be set on fire. I did my 10 years in WWE – I’ve proved that I’m tough enough. I don’t have anything to prove. Nothing out of the ordinary for myself. When it’s an exceptional stunt – Rob is his name – I say Rob, would you mind? He’s one of those guys who will check out something first, and he’ll give me an honest opinion and say I just don’t think you should do this – I trust him completely.”
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 is in theaters May 5th!
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