Dave Bautista Talks Fight Scenes and Finding The Humor in Drax on the Set of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

     July 8, 2014


While I’ve been very lucky to spend a lot of time on movie sets, one of the things that blew me away about my Guardians of the Galaxy set visit was seeing Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) up close.  You might think some of his look was created in a computer, but it’s actually all Bautista, along with five makeup artists spending four hours a day getting him camera ready.  While I’ve seen plenty of practical makeup done well, the work that was done on Guardians of the Galaxy is spectacular and it’s going to make kids think they’re real.

During a break in filming last year on set, I got to participate in a group interview with Dave Bautista.  He talked about the fight scenes, finding the humor in Drax, how his whole purpose is to get even with Thanos, how happy he was to land the role, Drax’s relationship with the other Guardians, the makeup process, and so much more.  It’s a great interview so check it out after the jump.

guardians-of-the-galaxy-gamora-rocket-peter-quill-groot-draxQUESTION: One of my very favorite Comic Con moments ever was you onstage this year. It was just the idea that you were so moved by having been given the part. It’s great to see.

BAUTISTA: One of my very favorite parts of Comic Con this year was me on stage, as well. It was weird because it was my third Comic Con and two years before I had gone as a spectator and I went with my girlfriend and we both dressed up so we could just walk the floor and really experience it. And two years later, I’m in freaking Hall H on a panel with Guardians of the Galaxy. How weird is that? I went the year before with The Man With the Iron Fist, but it wasn’t nearly… I mean Hall H was just…

That energy was incredible.

BAUTISTA: It was amazing.

Especially because we had just seen the footage that you guys had just seen.

BAUTISTA: Yeah. None of the footage that they had showed of the movie, we hadn’t seen any of that. I don’t watch my playbacks because I hate to see myself act. But now it seems pretty cool.

Was that a huge motivational factor for you guys when you came back to London?

BAUTISTA: Nothing can motivate me any more than I’m [already] motivated (laughs). It just can’t happen. Me being motivated was never a factor. Never.

In the comics, Drax, his destroyer goal is Thanos and in here we’re focusing you more on Ronan.

BAUTISTA: Are we allowed to give out that info? Marvel’s pretty strict about you know… so I’m always afraid I’m going to say the wrong thing.

What’s it like having your character’s motivating factor being so focused in on one particular person like that?

BAUTISTA: It’s easy. I have a clear cut goal, this is the reason I’m alive. This is the one and only reason I’m alive, is really for two events – the death of my wife and daughter. So it’s a lot of motivation there. Makes it easy for me to focus on what goal is and who my character is.

Does the physical transformation that you go through everyday, is that a chance for you to focus your head and get into who Drax is? And is there that moment when you look in the mirror and you’ve changed completely?

guardians-of-the-galaxy-39BAUTISTA: It’s so weird. I keep thinking and hearing over and over that I was really born to play this part. I love putting on the makeup and everything – especially the contacts. You don’t really get to see the contacts. The contacts are really the icing on the cake. Really cool. I can just relate to Drax so much it’s not even funny. Just the simple things that we have in common. Simple things like the tattoos, the tragedy – because you know, I had a bit of tragedy in my life as well. So it’s really easy for me to pull from that. There’s such coincidences. Drax using two knives as his weapons of choice, just by chance – stuff like that. Not only that, but like the first time I ever saw – because I didn’t get Drax at all when I first read the sides for the audition, just didn’t get it – and then I saw a picture of Drax and I was like, “holy shit, holy shit, that’s me!” And it freaked me out.

Talk a little bit about the way you prepare – because obviously you get to do some action in this – talk a little bit about what you prepared or how you prepared to do these action scenes and was there one thing that when you were presented with like animatics or pre-viz and that you were like “ohh yes!”

BAUTISTA: I didn’t do a whole lot of preparation. We came in and started on a whole lot of stunt training, which really just meant fight choreography, even before we started filming. Luckily, for me, I’m a lifelong athlete and I adapted real quick and it’s really cool too because Chris Pratt who’s playing Star Lord is an athlete and he adapts really fast as well. Because we actually rehearsed for this fight scene that we had together for two and a half months and the Friday before the Monday that we shot it, it all went out the window. We got one look at it that Friday, because we went to look at it while we were shooting… and the reason was because James decided that the fight scene was so elaborate that the way we were shooting it just wasn’t going to work. And we didn’t get it at all man, because we were doing all this cool stuff and James is like, “you gotta trust me. It’s just not gonna look right, the way we’re going to shoot it. We need to simplify this.” And it wasn’t nearly as cool, we didn’t think until we actually saw it, but we really had to learn the whole fight scene because he wanted to shoot it in one shot. And it took us 22 takes to get it right because there’s a lot going on and it’s us fighting together. But we had to learn it that Friday, really just by visually watching it before we came in to shoot it on Monday. So it’s stuff like that. Thank god that we are pretty athletic guys and we really just went for it and it took us a long time to get it but we got it and it’s a hell of a fight scene.

guardians-of-the-galaxy-40Just in general, what’s it been like working with James Gunn? Because as you mentioned, not watching the dailies I have to imagine you have to have a ton of trust in him.

BAUTISTA: Not only do I trust this guy but he’s just so much fun. Have you guys all met him?

Not yet

BAUTISTA: He’s so much fun and he’s so just chill and relaxed he’s got such a great sense of humor and he’s a very witty guy and… it just feels like we’re hanging out and he’s very playful and he jokes a lot. And that’s what the atmosphere has been like with everybody. I hear that over and over between me, Chris and Zoe, is that we all just, we trust in his vision so much because he really does – and we knew this right off the bat – James has such a clear vision of what he wants and so he’s making it very very easy on us. Very easy.

As a comic book fan, what was something that you got to do that just made the fan inside you kind of flip out?

BAUTISTA: God, man that’s a huge question. I wouldn’t really know where to start. I mean really you guys have covered a lot of it. It’s really just from actually being a comic book character to really, the first time seeing the different sets and seeing the makeup and seeing everybody else in their makeup. And that’s really cool because, especially on days when we have a big cast or we have extras, I mean everybody’s on board, it’s just.. everybody’s.. the costumes and stuff are all so different and so unique and it’s just… you could sit around and it’s totally the geek in you just sits around staring, and you’re like “oh that’s just so cool! oh my god, that’s so cool!” The spaceships and even like the prison set up that they have, the stages, it’s freakin amazing. It’s so much bigger than anything I’ve ever done. So it’s really just so overwhelming so I really… that is a huge question. I wouldn’t know where to start. It’s just all so cool. And this is a way you stay young, man, stuff like this. It totally brings out the kid in you. Even like, I’ve had action figures. I had action figures, it was always one of my favorite things, the action figures, the video games, when I was with WWE, even though I’m not a gamer, because I would literally go out and buy the games just so I could play myself (laughs). So I knew we were going to have Guardians action figures and stuff like that, but I didn’t know we were going to have Legos! Like a Drax Lego, just stuff like that I just love.

It’s such a crazy ensemble, do you have a favorite particular character? Other than yourself?

guardians-of-the-galaxy-rocket-racoonBAUTISTA: If I had to say a favorite character, just because I find him so interesting… it’d be Rocket Raccoon. I don’t know how it’s going to be when they do the voiceover and Bradley’s… Right now James’ brother Sean Gunn is playing Rocket Raccoon. He’s so into this part, it’s such a shame that he’s not going to be Rocket Raccoon, because to me, he is. He’s bringing so much, I don’t know, so much passion to Rocket and I really, I mean it’s just… Even when he’s just throwing his lines and I’m not even looking at a raccoon, I feel like I am. He’s just so into this character. But I think Rocket Raccoon, because he is so interesting, he’s got so much going on, and he’s also got so much baggage with what he’s been through. I’d probably say Rocket.

Kind of bridging off that question, what is Drax’s relationship with each member of the Guardians?

BAUTISTA: That’s the thing, man. The way we start off is we don’t really care for each other much at all. It’s weird because we come together, then we split apart, and then we really come together and it’s really when we are the Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s really that point and you totally feel it in the scenes that we shot, you can really feel the love and the passion and the chemistry to where we actually form this band and it’s just such a band of misfits, man. It’s like we’re all jaded except for Groot. Groot’s so lovable. We have a really jaded past but we finally I think we all discover a bigger reason for living – something that’s bigger than us, something that’s bigger than our own past, something that’s bigger than our own pain. That’s when we form together to make the Guardians of the Galaxy. And you’ll feel it because you’ll feel it in the scenes, you can feel the chemistry between the cast. And that’s the coolest thing, what’s made this pretty easy for me because I still, I don’t have a whole lot of experience in film but if the actors are there, I can be there. If they’re in that moment, I can be there. It’s much easier when you have your co-workers who are just, they’re there in the moment. If you were out of the moment, you would feel odd. But it’s so easy to just get there and be in that moment. We had good chemistry within the cast. Very good chemistry.

Oddly specific question, so it’s fine if you can’t answer it, but how many fight scenes are you in?

BAUTISTA: I think there’s about 4 major fight scenes. You know, where there’s really a lot going on, a lot of action. So I’d say probably 4. But there’s a bunch of different physicality here and there, it’s a fun movie.

The etchings on your body are connected to some really personal stories, and I wonder how much you had a part in kind of building those out a little or did they tell you from beginning to end, these are the stories that you have.

guardians-of-the-galaxy-drax-etchingsBAUTISTA: That was really… James had a lot to do with that, of course. And I think we have such a brilliant team here. I think the designers of that had most to do with it. But I don’t wanna give… There is a little bit of, there’s a lot of comic relief to Drax. He doesn’t realize it and I don’t wanna give it away. But there is a little bit of… because he sees something in the tattoos that everybody else doesn’t see. And that’s all I’m going to say about that without giving a lot away. But yeah, no I didn’t really have any input in them other than making sure that they fit. We did a bunch of different tests for the makeup and stuff before they decided on a final look for Drax.

We were over in makeup and they were telling us how long it takes to put all this stuff on you, can you talk about that process?

BAUTISTA: Yeah, it’s cool, because right now the team actually set a record today. Because when we first started doing it it was between 4.5 to 5 hours, just to put on. It usually takes about an hour and a half to take off. But today they actually did it in 2 hours and 47 minutes. Which is, compared to 4.5 hours, that’s a big difference. I wish they were here, because these guys are incredible, man, and they’re gonna be like the unsung heroes to Drax. I kind of wish I could introduce them to the world, because they’re just so talented and they’re such a fun group. They make it really easy. It’s never boring in makeup. It’s never boring, sometimes I just zone out, but they’re always full of great conversation and playing music, it’s always very upbeat. So it’s not something that I dread going in to do.

How does the makeup feel, as the day goes on, do you forget that it’s on?

BAUTISTA: No, no, no. I constantly feel dirty. I just feel dirty and sticky even after I take it off.

Gray on everything at this point?

BAUTISTA: Well from the waist up. Thank god I have pants. Drax doesn’t particularly care for shirts but you know, it’s just from the waist up. It takes that long. God, it would take twice that long if it was full body.

This is kind of a weird question, but it goes all the way up to your mouth. Can you taste it? What does it taste like?

BAUTISTA: Alcohol. It tastes like pure rubbing alcohol. All day. Yeah.

What’s it like being the only member of the team that is shirtless?

BAUTISTA: It’s cool. It’s okay, this will be I guess my second movie as the shirtless guy, I seem to be. I’m creating my niche. My niche is going to be “shirtless guy.”

james-gunn-guardians-of-the-galaxyIt’s an era started.

BAUTISTA: (laughs) no, it’s okay man, because I totally get it. I think there’s going to be a little humor thrown in about it. It was so funny because when I first read the script, there was a few lines that weren’t in there but it was regarding my distaste for shirts. So I came into rehearsal one day and we’re reading through it and then one of the lines about Drax not really caring for shirts was in there, and I looked up at James and he was just sitting going *snort* *laugh* and I say, “What, I didn’t see this line in the script,” and he goes, “because I just wrote it in last night.” So it’s all kind of little things like that that make Drax really interesting. I think a lot of that stuff, because he’s very literal. Sometimes he just doesn’t realize that he’s being funny but he actually is hysterical. I think Drax steals a lot of scenes with with that type of stuff.

Kind of expanding on what you said at Comic-Con – your first big big time movie here is the next big Marvel Studios franchise. What has the process been like for you coming into that role and, now that you’ve been shooting, how different is it? What’s it been like?

guardians-of-the-galaxy-pratt-saldana-bautistaBAUTISTA: So my girlfriend just came over. And she was there the day that I found out I had the part. I literally broke down on the side of the road. And I turned right and I was on my way to the gym when I got the news on the phone – broke down, I drove home, walked in and I was just a mess. And so I shared with her and she just came over and we were talking about it and we both… still can’t believe I’m here. It’s the weirdest thing. And it’s really hitting me too because we’re less than three weeks from finishing. And when I first got over here, it was like “five months, that’s a long time.” Now it seems like it’s just flown by. It’s almost sad. But I feel… it’s just unbelievable.

Did they make you guys sign any contracts where they have you for a certain number of films, certain number of years, and if so, are you excited about the idea of at some point, the Guardians running into the rest of the Marvel universe?

BAUTISTA: So I’m not going to answer that. But I will say that I’ve heard the rumors, the same way you have. And if we go there… (laughs). I wanna go there, just as a fan I wanna go there. I’m a fan of all this stuff.

Putting fist pump into my notes.

BAUTISTA: I wanna be a part of that. This is like… I don’t know if you guys know, I was a wrestler for a long time. Before I ever started I worked with two wrestlers: one’s Triple H and one’s Ric Flair. And I heard that we were going to be in a group with them, myself and a buddy of mine named Randy Orton, because Randy and I started together. When I heard that we were going to be in a group with Triple H and Ric Flair, it was just rumors and I just prayed and prayed and prayed and I didn’t want to get my hopes up but I prayed and prayed, hoping that it would happen because I knew it would change my life. So that is the exact same feeling that I have here, so I’m praying and praying and praying and praying and praying. And I hope that it happens.

For more from my Guardians of the Galaxy set visit:


Latest News