Dave Bautista is ready to move on from Guardians of the Galaxy, the Marvel franchise that has launched his acting career into the stratosphere, following his retirement from the world of professional wrestling.
Bautista said in an interview with GQ published on Wednesday that he’s “so grateful” for and loves Drax the Destroyer — the intergalactic criminal he’s thus far played in six major Marvel projects. At the same time though, there’s a sense of “relief” for the former WWE star that his time with the larger-than-life character will come to a close with the May 5th release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
“[Working on the James Gunn-directed franchise] wasn’t all pleasant. It was hard playing that role,” said Bautista. “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.”
Bautista stressed that the change he’s looking for in his career has nothing to do with becoming a bigger movie star. “Honestly, I could give a f***k [about being a movie star]. I don’t live a great big glamorous life. I live here in Tampa,” he said. “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…It’s about the experience, about knowing that I accomplished something.”
The actor, enjoying a standout career moment as one of the stars of Rian Johnson’s acclaimed Knives Out sequel Glass Onion, seems poised for a major 2023 — first, as the lead of M. Night Shyamalan’s feature Knock at the Cabin, slated for release on February 3. But he appears to attribute the most weight, as he looks to redefine himself as an actor, to his relationship with filmmaker Denis Villeneuve, who most recently tapped him for the role of Glossu Rabban Harkonnen in his Warner Bros smash Dune and its upcoming sequel, after offering him a more weighty, dramatic part than he’d previously played in Blade Runner 2049.
“If I could be a number one [on the callsheet] with Denis, I would do it for f***ing free. I think that’s how I could find out how good I could be,” said Bautista. “He brings out the best in me. He sees me in a different light, sees the performer that I want to be. That might be how I solve the puzzle.”
Bautista isn’t the first actor to speak out about the winding down of Guardians. His comments are similar to those made by the franchise’s Zoe Saldana, who in a recent WWD interview discussed feeling “artistically stuck” given her commitments to franchises ranging from Guardians to Avatar and Star Trek.
That being said, the actress, who plays Guardians’ Gamora, later walked back her comments in an interview with Deadline on the red carpet for the Avatar: The Way of Water premiere. “I feel grateful and like the luckiest girl in this town knowing that I was invited to join films with special directors in a special cast. And they resonated with people so much so that we get a chance to come back again and come back another time,” she said. “If anything, I’ve reaped all the benefits of that.”