The names Peter Quill, Gamora, Rocket Raccoon, Groot and Drax the Destroyer might not be familiar to you yet, but once “Guardians of the Galaxy” hits theaters on Aug. 1, they will be. The unlikeliest of A-holes turn out to be the heroes the galaxy needs in Marvel’s latest — and greatest — comic book movie yet.
When Bautista finally did get his audition, he actually weighed less than what he does at his prime wrestling physique. “I was trying to get acting roles and I had dieted down, kind of starved myself down. And when I starve myself down, I starve myself down to like 260 pounds,” he shares.
“I have to fight to get smaller, and it’s really because I want to get more acting roles where I can just kind of fit in to this role or that role easier, rather than the guy who stands out looking like he just broke out of prison with the bald head and muscles,” Bautista admits with a laugh. “When I finally got the role, I said, ‘Hey, do you want me to put on a few pounds because Drax is huge and menacing?’ So I did. I got back on the weights and gained about 10 pounds.”
In most of Bautista’s previous films, he played various versions of the “muscle” character. But for Drax, he wanted to prove he could do more. In “Guardians of the Galaxy,” Drax is fueled by revenge over a very devastating loss, and Bautista tapped into that in his audition.
“I just poured my heart out. The dialogue I had for the [audition], it was a lot of really emotional stuff about his wife and daughter. It was stuff that didn’t make the final edit,” Bautista recalls. “They wanted to find somebody with some range. Not just your stereotypical muscle head. I just went in there and I just poured my heart out.”
This version of Drax the Destroyer has a different and simpler backstory than the character from the comics. In fact, the “destroyer” part only came recently in the context of the movie.
“He was a father and a husband. That’s how I describe him. I never approached him like [a warrior],” Bautista explains of who Drax was before his need for revenge. “There really is no other background story to this current edition of Drax. That’s it. I’m interested. I want to find out, and I’m sure [director] James Gunn will one day fill me in or one day come up with more of a background.”
Some of that background was explained in a scene that never made the final cut of the film. Drax has some elaborate tattoos in the movie, but the story never touches on them.
“They ended up not using the scene, and I think it was because it’s so emotional of a scene. I don’t want to give any spoilers because I don’t know if they’ll ever use it or they’ll ever go there,” Bautista says. “It is the story of his life, his tattoos. He never refers to them as tattoos. He always refers to them as the story of his life.”
Despite how emotional Drax’s journey is, he is the character who often draws the biggest laughs in “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Bautista credits his excellent comedic timing to a combination of the film’s cast, his love for comedies and Gunn’s great direction.
Bautista thanks leading man Chris Pratt for bringing together the humor of the film. “I had chemistry with Chris Pratt right off the bat from our first screen test,” he says. “I think you’d have to be kind of a dead body not to have chemistry with Chris Pratt. You could literally just stand there and have him do all the talking, and you’d still be funny just by standing there.”
“Guardians of the Galaxy” hits theaters on Aug. 1, 2014.