REEL DEAL: Pinoy Pride Dave Bautista Is Drax In “GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY”

Filipino wrestling champion-turned-actor Dave Bautista takes on the role of Drax—a quiet yet physical brute, obsessed with avenging the death of his wife and child, in Marvel's “Guardians of the Galaxy” (opening in the Philippines, July 31).

The casting of Drax was a tough one for the filmmakers, as executive producer Jeremy Latcham explains: “Drax is a complex character. He is a man who seeks vengeance on the people that murdered his wife, his daughter, ruined his life and took everything from him. He is a big, bulky guy covered in tattoos, and he looks like a menace but over the course of the film as the layers are peeled back, it is revealed that he is a deeply sorrowful, regretful man who wants to make amends, a multifaceted guy with much more going on than his physicality implies. Finding a big, hulking actor who could pull off that nuanced performance was really hard.”
But from the very first read, David Bautista, a former professional wrestler, who won the World Heavyweight Championship four times and the WWE Championship twice and is the longest-reigning World Heavyweight Champion in WWE history, nailed it. “Dave did an amazing job over the course of the auditions that really showcased who we wanted this character to be,” informs Marvel Studios President, Kevin Feige, “which is on the surface very strong and almost frightening, but when you dig deeper, when you spend some time with him, you find a sensitive side.”

Following his departure from WWE, Bautista’s career as an actor has gone from strength to strength, with leading roles in David Twohy’s “Riddick,” opposite Vin Diesel, and opposite Russell Crowe in RZA’s “The Man with the Iron Fists,” yet Bautista admits he had a hard time believing he had landed an audition, let alone actually gotten the part. “I knew what a big deal the project was and the talent that was involved. My insecurity kicked in. I didn’t want to be the big muscle-head on the set messing up all the time. But the script was so good; I loved the character and was very excited about the opportunity to play the range of emotions. Drax is a very passionate character. He’s a warrior but he’s dealing with a lot of pain. He’s heartbroken. He’s living solely for revenge and as a result has lost his connection with everything else.”

During the screen-testing process, the filmmakers put Chris Pratt (who plays Peter Quill) and Bautista together. Their chemistry was instant. Says Latcham, “The room lit up. It all came into place in this one moment when they stepped on to the stage together; the chemistry was just there.”

Director James Gunn adds, “I just can’t imagine anyone else doing the role but Dave Bautista; he is exactly what I imagined as Drax. He is able to do the emotional aspects of that character, the humorous aspects of that character, the physical aspects of that character and talk like a Shakespearean oddball. Dave is able to do all of that and it comes so naturally, plus he’s this physically big, huge bald guy.”

Drax’s life story is told by his full body tattoos—a prosthetics makeup process that saw Bautista endure a four-to-six hour daily session in the chair, or rather on foot. “I can’t sit while we’re doing it, and I have to keep my arms up, so it’s quite an ordeal,” says Bautista. “But you can’t argue with the finished product because it looks so good. It’s been totally worth it.”

From Marvel, the studio that brought you the global blockbuster franchises of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Avengers, comes a new team--the Guardians of the Galaxy. An action-packed, epic space adventure, Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy" expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the cosmos, where brash adventurer Peter Quill finds himself the object of an unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan, a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the entire universe. To evade the ever-persistent Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a quartet of disparate misfits--Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon; Groot, a tree-like humanoid; the deadly and enigmatic Gamora; and the revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer. But when Quill discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must do his best to rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand--with the galaxy's fate in the balance.

Directed by James Gunn, Marvel's “Guardians of the Galaxy” stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, featuring Vin Diesel as the voice of Groot, Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, with John C. Reilly, Glenn Close as Nova Prime Rael and Benicio del Toro as The Collector.

Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy" releases in Philippine theaters on July 31, 2014.

In addition to "Guardians of the Galaxy," Marvel Studios will release a slate of films based on the Marvel characters including "Avengers: Age of Ultron" on May 1, 2015; "Ant-Man" on July 17, 2015; and the untitled "Captain America 3" on May 6, 2016.

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