wrestling / News

Batista Says He Went Broke After He Quit WWE, Wanted to Prove to Vince McMahon He Could Succeed, Discusses His Audition Process for Guardians of the Galaxy

June 2, 2019 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
Dave Bautista Batista Drax Guardians of the Galaxy Image Credit: Marvel Studios

– Former WWE Superstar Dave Bautista, aka Batista, appeared at the Denver Pop Culture Con over the weekend, and talked about leaving WWE in 2010. Batista wanted to prove to WWE that he could succeed as an actor before ultimately returning to wrestling in 2014. Below are some highlights and a video of the panel.

Batista on pursuing an acting career: “I wanted to pursue acting because I found out how bad I was at it. It’s a true story — I was horrible. It’s a true story. I was with WWE at the time, and I went and did a film. I had zero interest in acting. All I wanted to do was wrestle. I loved wrestling. I was obsessed with wrestling, and I went in to do a film as a favor for a friend, and I realized that I was horrible. I was a horrendous actor. I was mortified and I wanted to prove that I could be better, and the company, they wouldn’t let me do anything outside the company. I was stuck within the company wrestling and I wanted to pursue acting. They said, ‘Sorry we need you here. We need you on the shows.’ And I said, ‘Well, if you’re not going to let me pursue something that I’m really passionate about, then I’m going to leave.’ So about eight months later, I walked out the door and they didn’t think I was going to, and I walked out on top. I was very comfortable. I was making a very good living, and I walked out. Then I starved for three years. I went broke and lost everything. I couldn’t get a job. I said, ‘I will never go back to wrestling until I prove what I set out to prove, and that was that I could make it as an actor.’ And then I got the role in Guardians [of the Galaxy]. When I finished the film, the first call I made after I wrapped was to Vince McMahon. I said, ‘Hey man, I’d really like to come back and wrestle for a bit.'”

Batista on auditioning for Guardians of the Galaxy: “Oh my god. It was a nightmare. Oh my god, it was terrifying. I was terrified. It was because — well, again, I have a tendency of making short answers like really long. But I like to tell the whole story because some people can get an idea of how much it meant and what I went through to get it. But I was really desperate at the time and hardly worked in three years. I’d gone broke. I’d lost all my money from wrestling. I was desperate to get a job. I finally got an agent. I got an agent like two weeks before I got the audition for Guardians, and my agent says, ‘You know, I had to fight really hard to get you this audition. It was really hard to get. They didn’t want to audition you. They didn’t want to see any pro wrestlers. So anyway, I don’t want to get your hopes up.’ *Laughs* He built my hopes like really low.”

“So I went in with low expectations, but I went in, and I didn’t understand Drax. I called my acting coach, I said, ‘I don’t get this. I don’t get these sides. These don’t make sense to me.’ He flipped out because he’s like the biggest fanboy. He’s like, ‘Oh my god! Oh my god! This is the break you’ve been waiting for!’ Anyway, he made me do a little research, and I found one picture of Drax — there’s been a lot of variations of Drax, but I found one and I said, ‘That looks like me. I know I can get that. I know that picture. I can relate to that.’ So anyway, he babied me through this whole process. My first and second audition, my acting coach went with me. He was holding my hand like a little baby. C’mon Dave. Come on. You can do it. So I went, and I read for Sarah Finn, and she’s amazing. I don’t know if you guys are [familiar with her] — Yeah, she does all the casting for Marvel. She’s amazing. So I read with her, and she said, ‘Don’t be nervous. Just take your time. We can stay here all day.’ And I read for her and did my audition, and she said, ‘Is there any way you could come tomorrow and read for the director?’ And then it became like real. And then I was like, ‘Of course I can.'”

Batista on auditioning for James Gunn: “So, I stayed in LA because I flew out from Tampa. I stayed in LA, and then I came back the next day and that’s when I met James Gunn. Now, I’m really gonna cry. Well we met, and I read for him, and I could tell right away that he really wanted me to be Drax because I was really into it, and he directed me in a few different ways. I could tell that we were already connecting. James and I connected really fast. And I say this, and this kind of gives you an idea of where I was at in my life when I say that James Gunn changed the direction of my life, not just my career, and this is why I’m so loyal to him. But you’re going to get me emotional out here *Laughs* — But anyway, I met him. I connected with him right off the bat. But it was months of auditioning and chemistry tests.”

Batista on his chemistry test with Chris Pratt getting him the role: “It was finally the chemistry test that I had with Chris Pratt. And it wasn’t planned. They said they just wanted to see us on camera together. And I think it’s been online somewhere. But they threw us in front of a camera together. We didn’t know each other, had never met each other, and we just clicked. Like I got him. He got me. It was so funny because Chris is actually a really big guy too. I don’t think a lot of of people realize how big he is, so they made him take his boots off so I would appear to be bigger. And he didn’t have an issue with it. And I played to his strengths. He played to mine. And I’m a good straight man, and he’s funny, and he’s witty, he’s sharp. So we just worked.”

If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit the Denver Pop Culture Con, with a h/t to 411mania.com for the transcription.