Dave Bautista’s acting career will forever be defined by his performance as Drax the Destroyer in James Gunn’s Marvel franchise “Guardians of the Galaxy,” but it’s another role Bautista credits with opening the doors in Hollywood that he always wanted to kick open. That role would be Sapper Morton in Denis Villeneuve’s “Blade Runner 2049.” Bautista’s replicant character appears in only one set piece, but the actor leaves a lasting impression as Villeneuve leans more into his haunting aura than his action-star physicality (although there is a bone-crunching fight scene).
“That was the opportunity that I was looking for because I don’t get offered roles like that a lot,” Bautista recently told Uproxx about “Blade Runner 2049.” “At that point, nobody was offering me roles like that. It was hard for people to see past my physicality and see that I actually wanted to…I used to tell people when I was just coming up, even after I got Drax, I was like I just really want to do some acting. I want to be a better actor. I want to do some drama. People would kind of giggle at me.”
Bautista said not even his agent understood the direction he wanted to take his career. Despite “2049” being a small role, Bautista knew it would move his career in a more dramatic direction. The decision worked, as Bautista said the film “opened up some eyes and people started looking at me differently.”
When asked if “2049” led directly to more roles, Bautista said, “It did, it opened up a lot of doors for me and it afforded me the opportunity to build a relationship with Denis Villeneuve.”
“I think there are still some people, maybe not so many now, but I think there are still some people, at that time, who didn’t really know me,” Bautista continued. “Who might not have even thought that I was capable of doing a job or playing a part. There’s a bad stigma that comes along with professional wrestling and I think sometimes people are worried about bringing that to their film set. They don’t know if I’m going to be an arrogant prick or I’m just going to be Mister Full-of-Testosterone and come in and just be kind of a dick on set.”
Building a relationship with Villeneuve on “2049” also proved beneficial, as the director cast Bautista for a key supporting role in his “Dune” adaptation. Bautista is starring as Glossu Rabban, the sadistic nephew of the film’s primary antagonist Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård). “Dune” opens in theaters and on HBO Max starting October 1.