It's hard to pinpoint a breakout star from the first "Guardians of the Galaxy," because everybody was pretty much a breakout star. But there's a strong argument that Dave Bautista, who played strongman Drax (initially hell-bent on revenge before accepting his more altruistic place as one of the universe's primary defenders), made the biggest impression. At turns heartbreaking and hilarious, Bautista delivered his lines with deadpan delicacy, each one landing with a combination of humor and emotion. For such a big, burly guy, he was instantly lovable and a big part of why that combination of actors worked so well.
So you'll be happy to hear that Drax takes an even bigger slice of the spotlight in writer-director James Gunn's sequel, "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2," opening this Friday. The sequel is bigger, weirder, funnier, and more emotional, and Drax takes on a larger role, acting as the comedic foil for newest Guardian Mantis (played with beautiful oddness by Pom Klementieff) and delving deeper into his own tragic backstory. Plus he's even more hilarious this time around.
I got to chat with Bautista in Los Angeles, about what it was like coming back for round two, the hilarious moment that was cut from the movie, what it's like being a part of a Disneyland ride, and how excited he is about working with Robert Downey, Jr. in "Avengers: Infinity War."
Moviefone: How does it feel to be back for "Vol. 2?"
Dave Bautista: Well, we signed on well before the second one was even announced. It was so weird because before the first one was even released, they were already announcing the second one, because they had so much faith. And it's the same thing here; they're already announcing the third film before the second one opens.
Well, when did you know that you guys had really hit on something?
After opening weekend. I felt that it was really special. I'd seen it and I was obviously there filming it and I always thought it was great. But I get anxiety, too, so there's always that bit of insecurity, because you really never know until people go see it.
I think people are going to be surprised by how funny Drax is in this movie, but also how emotional he is. Was it fun to play these different sides of the character?
Oh yeah, it's great. I don't find myself very funny at all. I'm a very dry person and soft spoken and a man of few words. That's always a stretch for me. So the dramatic parts are actually one of my strengths, I think. I've always worn my heart on my sleeve and I've always been able to bring out emotional scenes. But the comedy thing, I'm very happy with, because I didn't know they'd go that way.
You're really funny!
Well, thank you. It's so funny because we improved a lot, so a lot of the outtakes they used for the trailers, they're not even in the movie. And that shows you just how funny that stuff was and how much fun it was to shoot.
Was there anything you wanted to explore with the character that you were pushing for?
Yes, and it's still the same thing, because there was stuff that was edited out of the first one because of the tone of the movie. And that was really exploring his family. I'd even love for audiences to have a visual of what his family looked like.
Did you shoot that stuff?
No, but we shot a scene where he's explaining all of his tattoos and what they meant. It was the story of his life. They couldn't use the scene for one because it didn't fit the pace of the film, it slowed things down a lot and was just too deep and depressing. That first movie had to be really fun to introduce these characters. So we filmed that and we've talked more and more about his family and who they would be and even physically what they would look like. We've decided Drax's wife would be a rather large woman, which I think is brilliant. I think Drax would love being with a very large woman.
Well, with James Gunn coming back to do the third one ...
You never know!Can you talk a little bit about working with Pom Klementieff, who plays Mantis?
Well Pom and I, we screen-tested together, when she was testing for Mantis. And right off the bat we had great chemistry. Her emotional range is ridiculous, I'm a little bit envious. She can bring it, man. She can bring the deadpan humor and when she wants to turn on her emotions, she had access to it, and it's amazing. There's also that quirkiness to her, with her high-pitched voice and her accent Asian looks. She's just so perfect for Mantis. We had a lot of fun filming, because some of our takes I wish had made it into the film because they were just so ridiculously funny.
Is there one that you loved particularly?
There's a part where I'm dry heaving because I'm looking at her. So I start dry heaving and then she is dry heaving and it was just hysterical. Everybody on set was dying. Because my dry heaving was really big and hers was little and cute and we're just looking at each other dry heaving. It was so funny.
She said she was a different color when you guys did your screen test.
I think it was like an orange.
I though they'd done something digitally to her eyes.
Yeah, those were just big-ass contacts. I felt sorry for her. And I can relate. Those contacts are really uncomfortable and she had them in every day. But it's so crazy that they just turned her into an insect. She does so many little things. I don't know how many people pick up on this but she's constantly rubbing her hands like a mantis.
Speaking of make-up, did you streamline your process at all?
Yeah. I didn't but the team did. It was down from typically four hours to a bad day an hour-and-a-half. They usually knocked it out in an hour, an hour-and-ten. And it looks so much better.
And now you're part of the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe with "Avengers: Infinity War." How do you feel about that?
I feel great! I know I'm going to be employed for the next few years! But also I've been saying, even way back, that I was hoping there would be some kind of crossover. Because I was a fan first before I had a part in "Guardians." I loved "The Avengers." And I wanted that crossover to happen. I wanted to work with Robert Downey, Jr. Just because I was such a fan.
Did it live up to your expectations?
Oh yes, and then some. I met Robert Downey Jr., even before we were announced to go on "Avengers" and do the crossover, at the London premiere of the second "Avengers." And he went out of his way to come over and was so nice and gracious about "Guardians of the Galaxy" and how much he loved it. I thought, Oh man, I love this guy.
Without giving anything away, is there a character from the MCU that you're particularly excited about Drax interacting with?
No, I couldn't say without giving anything away.
Do little kids recognize you?
Nope. Believe it or not. Usually parents will recognize me and they'll tell the kids, "Do you know who that is?" But no, I don't get a lot of facial recognition ... maybe if I was green and walked around shirtless all the time.
You're about to be in a Disney ride, too. What can you say about that?
I'm super excited. Like, that's the kind of stuff that excites me. Being a part of action figures and video games and amusement rides. That's what really gets me excited. And I actually drove down there just to look at it. It's not finished. But people were sending me pictures over social media. Some of them weren't too happy about it. There were a few protestors. But I get it. I know they love their nostalgia and I do as well. But it's great. I hope to be there the day they open it.
James Gunn shot the ride film, too, right?
Yeah, we shot all of that on set while were shooting the movie, the whole breakout and everything.I loved you in the James Bond movie, "Spectre." We didn't see you die. Is there any chance of you coming back?
There's a great chance of me coming back. We're holding our breath. We're waiting to hear, for one, if Daniel Craig is coming back. Because if he's not coming back, and this is just my idea, I think they'd completely reboot the franchise and start fresh. But if he did come back, I hope that they'd continue the Blofeld storyline, because they left it open-ended. I feel like Bond 25 is just Bond and Blofeld going at it.
Maybe you could be scarred up.
Or not. I feel like Hinx is indestructible, like The Terminator.
"Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" is everywhere on Friday.