It’s almost impossible for any wrestler-turned-actor to avoid comparisons to Dwayne Johnson. After all, the wrestler formally known as The Rock is currently one of the biggest A-list actors in Hollywood. For Dave Bautista, however, leaving wrestling behind and starting an acting career was never an attempt to become the next Dwayne Johnson.
“I never wanted to be the next Rock,” Bautista said in a recent GQ interview. “I just want to be a good fucking actor. A respected actor.”
It was around 2009 when Bautista first starting flirting with the idea of making the jump from wrestler to actor. As GQ notes: “[Bautista] won the first of his six world championships in 2005, traded a tiny D.C. apartment for a Tampa mega-mansion, and filled the driveway with a fleet of exotic cars and motorcycles. By 2009, Bautista was one of WWE’s single biggest stars — though, from his perspective, he wasn’t getting treated like one.”
“John Cena and I were both headlining shows,” Bautista said. “I was [the face of] ‘SmackDown.’ He was ‘Raw.’ But he was being used in [WWE-produced] films and television commercials and magazines, and I was just headlining shows. In fact, there was one point where he was off making a film and I was headlining both sets of shows and the pay-per-views. It was just a feeling of, ‘We’re not getting equal opportunities.’”
Bautista “couldn’t have cared less about acting” at the time, adding, “I felt like I was coming into my own as a wrestler. I loved it. I couldn’t get enough of it.” But watching Cena get opportunities that he wasn’t allowed to have ended up being one reason Bautista exited the WWE for good in 2010 to become an actor.
Bautista would ultimately get a taste of The Rock-level Hollywood fame when he joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Drax the Destroyer in “Guardians of the Galaxy,” a role that has spawned seven MCU projects over nearly a decade. Bautista’s final Marvel outing is the upcoming third “Guardians” movie, and he’s excited to take on meatier roles like the ones he has in M. Night Shyamalan’s “Knock at the Cabin” and Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune: Part Two” later this year.
“Honestly, I could give a fuck [about being a movie star],” Bautista told GQ. “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.”
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.