James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy films are filled with inspired casting choices, from the chubby guy from Parks and Rec playing the lead hero role, to Vin Diesel only saying a single sentence as Groot. Recently a fan asked Gunn on Twitter, "What's a decision you had to fight tooth and nail for on a movie? Like looking back you still wonder why did the studio fight so hard against it?", to which Gunn replied by naming the casting of Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer.
"I'd say hiring @DaveBautista on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 1. The first thing Kevin Feige told me after seeing the first cut is how right I was about him."
Before Guardians came out, Dave Bautista was best known for his years spent wrestling in the WWE, and occasionally showing up as the villain in minor projects like Heist and The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption. Thus, it is understandable that MCU execs would be skeptical of casting the former wrestler in a prominent supporting role in a big-budget movie.
But Gunn's instinct proved to be accurate. Bautista took the ultra-serious role of Drax and managed to turn it into something truly memorable, displaying an unexpectedly fine-tuned sense of comic timing that belied his beefy physique.
Since playing Drax, Bautista has seen his star rise steadily in Hollywood, getting more interesting and varied roles than the "hired muscle". In turn, he has proven he has what it takes to be a serious actor. When Chance the Rapper recently posted on Twitter wondering how Bautista is able to act so well, James Gunn was happy to jump in and explain the actor's process.
"Bc @DaveBautista takes the craft seriously. He's grounded in real emotion & not showy. The difference between Dave & many wrestler-actors is when you look in his eyes on set he's in the place he's supposed to be, not thinking about what he's going to do next. One of the things I deal with a lot with actors who have been a part of other performing arts (ie wrestling or comedy) is to get them to STOP JUGGLING and JUST BE. It's not your job to entertain us - it's simply your job to be present to the moment in front of you and to treat it honestly. I never really had to teach that to @DaveBautista. His rawness set him apart from the first moment I met him. It was merely a matter of creating a space where he could come and share himself with all of us."
Clearly, there is a great deal of respect between Gunn and Bautista, which is sure to make their upcoming collaboration on the next and possibly final Guardians film a memorable affair for fans. Written and directed by James Gunn, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is set to begin filming in 2021. Its current release date is targeted for 2023.