Dave Bautista knows that 2023 will be a pivotal year for his acting career. With “Glass Onion” buzz carrying over into the new year, Bautista will be getting his most sizable speaking role to date in M. Night Shyamalan’s “Knock at the Cabin” and an expanded role in Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune” sequel. He’s also exiting the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” marks his swan song as Drax the Destroyer. It’s a role that has spanned nearly 10 years and seven different MCU projects, but it’s one Bautista is more than eager to leave behind.
“I’m so grateful for Drax. And love him. But there’s a relief [that it’s over],” Bautista recently told GQ magazine. “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.”
Bautista said his other 2023 film projects are a step in the right direction when it comes to shaping his post-Marvel acting career. He said of Shyamalan’s new thriller, “It’s by far the most I’ve ever spoken in a film. Just huge pages of monologues. We were shooting on film, which is very expensive. And we were shooting with one camera, so you don’t have the luxury of editing. It’s your only opportunity — you need a perfect take. It’s a lot of pressure. I want to remember my dialogue, but not at the expense of losing the emotion of the scene.”
“Dune: Part Two” will mark Bautista’s third Villeneuve movie after “Blade Runner 2049” and “Dune.” He told GQ, “If I could be a number one [on the callsheet] with Denis, I would do it for fucking free. 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.”
“Honestly, I could give a fuck [about being a movie star],” Bautista added later in the interview. “I don’t live a great big glamorous life. I live here in Tampa. 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. I don’t need accolades — I really don’t, man. It’s about the experience, about knowing that I accomplished something.”
Bautista wants to accomplish a lot more than what the MCU offered. The actor has always championed his tenure as Drax, but he has also openly expressed frustration over the role. Back in 2021, Bautista told Collider that Marvel “dropped the ball” in terms of doing Drax justice on the big screen.
“I really wished they would have invested more in Drax, personally,” he said. “Because I think Drax has more of a story to tell. I think Drax has a really interesting backstory, which they dropped the ball on. That’s no dig at Marvel. They had their slate, I know what they’re focused on, that’s what they have [it] slated out. But man, I think they really missed the ball on Drax. He has such a great backstory.”
Bautista added that if Marvel had explored the character more fully, it “would have given me the opportunity to show different sides of Drax, emotionally. And physically as well.”
Shyamalan’s “Knock at the Cabin” opens in theaters on Feb. 3, followed by “Guardians Vol. 3” on May 5 and “Dune: Part Two” on Nov. 3.