Dave Bautista has made quite the career for himself ever since portraying Drax in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Guardians of The Galaxy. His unique look, size, and pure acting talent have made him one of Hollywood’s most versatile performers. With future acting credits in Denis Villeneuve’s Dune and Rian Johnson’s Knives Out 2, Bautista’s profile in Hollywood is bound to rise even more. But before James Gunn recruited him for his space team, the former wrestler was having a difficult time getting his foot in Hollywood’s door.
Dave Bautista left the WWE while on top of the wrestling world
Before Guardians of the Galaxy, Dave Bautista was a star in his own right. He made his professional wrestling debut in WWE in 2002, and by 2006 vaulted to the top of the company. Sharing the spotlight with co-stars Randy Orton and John Cena, Bautista became one of the company’s most popular names. Despite his successes in the WWE, however, Bautista eventually caught the acting bug. When he fell in love with acting, the former pro-wrestler wanted the same opportunities WWE was giving their number one superstar in John Cena. But WWE wasn’t as generous with those opportunities when it came to the Marvel star.
“At the time, they were doing a lot of movies with John Cena. They were doing a lot of commercials with John Cena, a lot of magazine covers. Everything with John Cena,” Bautista said to Michael Rosenbaum on the Inside of You podcast. “But I felt like if I wasn’t going to have the opportunities within the company like acting, doing films, then I should have the opportunity to go outside the company and audition. And they said ‘no.’”
Since WWE denied Bautista’s request to star in their movies, Bautista left the promotion while on top of the company to pursue his passion in Hollywood. “It was taking a huge chance,” Bautista said.
Even though it was a risk that paid off, his future success as an actor didn’t come easy. Because of a lavish lifestyle he couldn’t afford on a dwindling income, and few roles being offered his way, Bautista was in a tough spot.
Dave Bautista starved for three years before ‘Guardians of The Galaxy’
On the same podcast with Rosenbaum, Bautista explained how he lost some of the income he’d earned from the WWE.
“After wrestling, I went broke,” Bautista said. “I left wrestling, it was three years that I barely worked. I got hit a little from the IRS, and just went broke. So I just had to start all over again.”
Bautista knew the transition from the WWE, where he was getting a healthy check every week, to the unknown waters of Hollywood would be tough. Despite the odds, however, he was on a relentless mission to realize his acting potential.
“So, that’s what I did,” Bautista said regarding his exit from WWE. “I starved for three years, and it was actually after I got Guardians that I felt like I kind of proved my point.”
But until he earned his coveted spot on Marvel, his acting career had trouble taking off.
“It was Guardians that was really the turn around for me,” Bautista opened up to Collider. “But I really, up until then, I struggled and struggled to get work. It was proving to people that I actually wanted to be an actor.”
Many fans believe Bautista has more than proven his worth as an actor. For many, he was the highlight in both Guardians films. While in Avengers Infinity War, a film bursting with star power, Bautista managed to be a standout in the superhero epic.
Although he’s made many contributions to his mega blockbuster franchise, Bautista isn’t interested in taking the same route as another wrestler turned superstar in Dwayne Johnson. Bautista’s goal is to be a different type of actor.
Dave Bautista wants to be a dramatic actor
Bautista has made it clear that he’s solely interested in being an actor, and isn’t concerned with being a movie star.
“I don’t aspire to be a movie star,” Bautista later told Collider. “I want to be an actor. And I think the roles I’ve chosen to pursue with all my heart are acting roles. I’m not looking to be a leading man, I don’t see myself as that guy. I want to be a character actor.”
From his roles in comedic films like Guardians of The Galaxy and Stuber, to parts that have a bit more seriousness to them like Blade 2049 and Army of The Dead, Bautista has already shown impressive range as an actor. A range that continues to take him far.
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