Just like when we met Dave Bautista on the set of the first Guardians of the Galaxy back in 2013, he came to sit down with us in full costume on the Atlanta set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 last April. Bautista, along with the rest of the cast and crew even lined up and ate the from same fold-up tables in the abandoned conference center where Marvel Studios had crafted several sets for the production since Pinewood Studios was overflowing with sets for Avengers 3-4 and Spider-Man: Homecoming.
The family dynamic and themes on screen are palpable between everyone working on the project. Perhaps that’s why it’s easy for James Gunn and everyone involved to be excited to already know they’ll all be back together for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Three years had past in real-life when we visited the Vol. 2 set though and Bautista’s fame skyrocketed thanks in part to James Gunn casting him on the first movie. As a result, Bautista was noticeably different with that much experience. He’s much more confident, like a veteran professional of the industry, but still just as passionate and caring. Where the first time we met him as “Drax” in real-life, he teared up at James Gunn giving him a chance and the idea of having LEGO toys based off him, now he’s unafraid to share his passionate thoughts and speak his mind.
Have they made it any easier on you with the makeup for the sequel?
Dave Bautista: It’s so easy, you wouldn’t believe it. I’m not kidding. It takes like an hour and a half now. The last one, they got it down to four hours and everyone was celebrating. This, literally they attack me with paint rollers all over. And it looks better too. It looks way better.
Is it just more people?
Dave Bautista: They just have a completely different process. It took some testing. The problem was it goes on really great and it looks really great, but it’s really hard to get off. They came up with this idea: they stick me in a sauna at the end of the day. [laughs] They literally have to melt it off of me. That was the thing, because during the test we found out it’s so abrasive they literally have to scrub it off of me. So after two days, my skin was like hamburger. So they came up with the sauna thing, and I literally have a portable sauna that travels around with me and I get in at the end of the day, and I get three guys who come in and attack me – nothing weird there. Four guys in a sauna, just being men. [laughs] We talk about football and fighting a lot while we’re in there. [laughs]
How many people does it take to put everything on you?
Dave Bautista: I have a team of five guys.
After the original film, there was a thing that popped up on the Internet about Drax which is it turned out people with autism found Drax to be a character they could really deeply relate to? Is that impacting you moving forward with the character?
Dave Bautista: That would be a question more I think for James [Gunn]. He writes for Drax and he has a great time doing it. [laughs] I thought about it a lot. It’s really a cool thing. It’s really kind of hard to describe. But it kind of just feels good when you can influence anybody in a positive way, that you’re being a positive role model for somebody. It’s a good feeling, it’s a really good feeling, but I try not to read into it too much because I just don’t want to put that pressure on myself. But I do my thing and hopefully people are entertained by it and some positive things will spread from it. I try not to read into that stuff too much, because then I’d have to be really worried about any role that I ever played. I’d have to be worried about when I play a bad guy or I play a scumbag. I try to go from role to role and I want to do these different characters, so I just try not to read into it too much.
It seems like Drax finds a kindred spirit in Mantis. Can you talk about their relationship?
Dave Bautista: No. I don’t know how much has been disclosed. Obviously Mantis is in this film. For the sake of my job, we should kind of leave it at that right now.
Kevin told us that Drax and Mantis have a connection because they’re both awkward.
Dave Bautista: I think they’re both very awkward, but I think they’re both — I always said this: at the very core of Drax, he’s really just heartbroken. There’s a real innocence about Drax, and I think Mantis has that as well, and I think that’s probably where the connection would be the most. There’s just a very child-like innocence with both characters.
We heard at the beginning, the Guardians are very full of themselves and very cocky. Does Drax buy into that? What are his feelings about it?
Dave Bautista: [laughs] There maybe somewhat of a sense of self-righteousness to Drax, but no. I’ve always described Drax as at the heart of Drax there’s really just a heartbroken guy. He’s really heartbroken over the loss of his family. I think he has one mission, and that is revenge.
To that end, does he still talk about going after Thanos? Does he want the team to focus on that at all?
Dave Bautista: Mmm. Hmm. Yeah. You know… [hedges] That’s a real touchy subject. I think everybody knows from the first film that’s always going to be his mission. That is the reason he is living right now. But yeah, we’ll kind of just leave it at that for now.
We know towards the beginning of the movie the Guardians split up. Where does Drax fall into that?
Dave Bautista: We’re family at this point. I’d have to disagree with that point. We don’t really go our separate ways at all. We’re very much, I think, a family at this point, as we left off in the last film. I think we pick up right where we started. I think that will be fair to say. There’s not really division amongst us. I think we all have the same mission.
Has your character evolved in terms of the fighting styles? Any weapons?
Dave Bautista: No, I think if I can say that he has evolved at all, I think that he’s just more prominent in this film. I think James really just found such an amusement to Drax. An amusement for writing for Drax. He’s just more prominent in this film, which is great for me, and he may have developed a bit more faith in me as well. I was still kind of the new guy on set with the last film. I kind of pulled my weight, and he’s developed even more faith in me, so he’s written for me more. That’s just my take on it.
What’s it like working with Kurt Russell?
Dave Bautista: It’s pretty great, man. [laughs] It’s pretty great. It was weird. I felt like such a fanboy. The first day, I was like, “I’ve got to ask you about this, man: How do you feel about the Rock being cast as Jack Burton?” And he was like, “Yeah, great.” I wanted to hear the opposite: “I think it’s shit. I think it’s shit casting, man. They cast the Rock as Jack Burton, I just don’t agree. Like, Chris Pratt to me is Jack Burton,” but that’s the fanboy in me, man. I take things like that personally. [laughs] But he doesn’t take that personally at all. He’s like, it’s the character you’re portraying, now it’s time to move on. Next character. But yeah, a lot of Snake Plissken stories going around, stuff like that. Constantly bugging him about what we want to know. What’s really weird, especially for someone — because he grew up in Hollywood, grew up in film, so it’s kind of weird to meet people that grew up in films who are still in touch with reality. I’ve met a few people and they’ve been sheltered their whole life and just totally out of touch, and Kurt is not like that at all. He’s like super down to earth and just a real dude and real friendly to everybody, and that’s kind of cool to see, because I’ve seen the opposite, so it’s really cool to see someone who comes on and just is real down to earth. There’s nothing superficial or pretentious about him. He’s been just very patient with everything. He’s never in a rush, he doesn’t keep to himself, he doesn’t separate himself from the cast, so it’s kind of cool.
What does Drax think about Baby Groot?
Dave Bautista: [laughs] I don’t think Drax and The Tree are ever going to get along. Just always going to be at odds with each other. It’s like that sibling rivalry, it’s what it feels like to me.
Set to the all-new sonic backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 continues the team’s adventures as they traverse the outer reaches of the cosmos. The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage. Old foes become new allies and fan-favorite characters from the classic comics will come to our heroes’ aid as the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to expand.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is written and directed by James Gunn and stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, featuring Vin Diesel as Baby Groot, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris Sullivan, Sean Gunn, Tommy Flanagan, Laura Haddock, with Sylvester Stallone, and Kurt Russell. Kevin Feige is producing, and Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Jonathan Schwartz, Nikolas Korda and Stan Lee are the executive producers.