Since making his debut in small indie projects, Dave Bautista slowly racked up memorable role after memorable role. Soon, the former wrestler found himself acting in some of the biggest movies of each year. But as his work earned him the title of the best wrestler-turned-actor? Rian Johnson, the director of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, sure thinks so.
In a new interview with The Atlantic, the filmmaker stopped to discuss the talents of Dave Bautista and how he’s waiting for the right director to craft the perfect role for him. Johnson talked about working with the actor and named him as the Glass Onion cast member who surprised him the most.
“When I was writing [his character, a men’s-rights streamer named Duke Cody], I was picturing a scrawny dude who’s trying to overcompensate. When Bautista was brought up, I was instantly so smitten by the idea. I’ve been a very big fan of his dramatic chops as an actor,” Johnson says.
The interviewer describes Bautista as “[l]ow-key the greatest wrestler-to-actor ever,” and the director agreed. “I absolutely 100 percent agree,” Johnson exclaimed. “And I think somebody like [Paul Thomas Anderson] is going to give him a real part and is gonna look like a genius. As a person, Bautista is genuinely, immediately vulnerable when you meet him, and that’s what I was excited about. This is someone who has the physical trappings of someone who would play it big, but he actually brings sensitivity to the role.”
Dave Bautista wrestled in the WWE from his main roster debut in 2002 to 2019, when Bautista officially announced his retirement from in-ring competition. During his time, he became a multi-time world champion and faced off with the previous generation’s biggest stars like John Cena, Randy Orton, and Triple H.
Bautista would slowly step away from the ring and enter another chaotic circus, the world of filmmaking. He made his mainstream film debut with The Man with the Iron Fists but came into his own when he was cast as Drax The Destroyer in Guardians of the Galaxy. From there, he’s been in several Marvel movies and prestige blockbusters like Blade Runner 2049 and Dune.
As for wrestlers who later became actors, Dave Bautista joined the likes of Hulk Hogan, Dwayne Johnson, and John Cena. But many feel Bautista offers a range in character and quality that the others need to improve. Johnson is often criticized for his lack of character depth, and Cena is just now beginning to stretch himself with roles like Peacemaker finally. Bautista offers quiet and sensitive performances while never forgetting his action star roots. It’s a delight to see, and we can expect more goodies from the actor.
Bautista has three significant projects lined up for 2023: M. Night Shyamalan’s Knock at the Cabin, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and Dune Part Two.
You’re invited to put the pieces together. In the follow-up to Rian Johnson’s Knives Out, Detective Benoit Blanc travels to Greece to peel back the layers of a mystery involving a new cast of colorful suspects.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery stars Daniel Craig, Edward Norton, Janelle Monáe, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Jessica Henwick, Madelyn Cline, Kate Hudson, and Dave Bautista.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is streaming now on Netflix.