Ten years ago, when James Gunn cast former professional wrestler Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer, some were skeptical. Sure, this dude was a charismatic wrestler, but could he act? Oh, how that has changed, now that Bautista’s breakout Marvel Studios role has propelled him into a diverse, impressive acting career. Though the character is a fan favorite, the actor reveals that he never wanted Drax to be his signature role and that he’ll officially be leaving it behind this May when Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 his theaters.
“I’m so grateful for Drax. I love him,” Bautista told GQ magazine. “But there’s a relief [that it’s over]. It wasn’t all pleasant. It was hard playing that role. 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.”
So, there are a few things to unpack here and we’ll start with what we know. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 writer/director James Gunn confirmed on his Instagram Stories that, yes, the upcoming film will be the final time Bautista plays Drax. Does that mean Drax will be recast (which Bautista himself said he’s cool with)? Does he die? Does he just go off and leave the Guardians? Those answers will come in a few months. But, for now, we at least know where these feelings are coming from.
As for Bautista’s relief at leaving it behind, you almost understand that too. While Drax is a big, boisterous character, matching Bautista’s physical stature, those aren’t the types of characters he’s most interested in playing. For example, in the GQ profile, he talks about just wanting to work more and more with director Denis Villeneuve, who cast Bautista in small roles in both Blade Runner 2049 and Dune (though the role is significantly expanded in this year’s Dune: Part Two). “If I could be a number one [on the callsheet] with Denis, I would do it for fucking free,” the actor said. “I think that’s how I could find out how good I could be. 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.”
He’s also worked with the likes of Sam Mendes, Zack Snyder, Rian Johnson, and, later this year, M. Night Shyamalan. He’s not afraid to take a smaller role, as long as it means working with someone great. And while Gunn is certainly great, after three full films, a Holiday Special, and several other Marvel cameos, you understand how a performer like that is ready to leave it behind and try something new.
What do you think happens to Drax in Guardians 3? Let us know below.
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