Dave Bautista expresses his love for director Zack Snyder, and how working together on Army of the Dead was a long time coming. Also starring Ella Purnell and Theo Rossi, the film, described as a zombie-heist thriller, will see Snyder return to the director's chair for the first time in a number of years. After kicking off the DCEU franchise with 2013's Man of Steel, he went on to direct the follow-up installments Batman V Superman and Justice League. He ultimately stepped down from working on the latter, however, due to tragic circumstances. Joss Whedon went on to finish the film. After Justice League opened to both poor reviews and an underwhelming return at the box office, a passionate group of fans emerged, calling for Warner Bros. to release the Snyder Cut of the film.
Set in a post-apocalyptic Las Vegas overrun with zombies, Army of the Dead focuses on a group of mercenaries who venture into a quarantined zone to pull off the greatest heist ever attempted. Snyder was initially attached solely as a producer, before transitioning into being the film's director. Originally written in 2007, the project vanished into development hell for a while. Over the last decade, the script was completely reworked, removing many of the more controversial and extreme elements. The film will also have no connection to Snyder's previous zombie outing, 2004's Dawn of the Dead remake. Bautista was cast back in April, said to be playing Scott - the "dry-witted, thoughtful" leader of the aforementioned mercenaries.
Speaking with THR, Bautista discussed a variety of topics, including his relationship with James Gunn, and the recent controversy surrounding the director. He also had a lot of positive comments for Snyder, as both a person and a director. When the subject of Army of the Dead came up, Bautista was asked how the project came together and how he came to be involved. Here's what he had to say:
I’ve been talking to Zack Snyder for years now; we’ve been trying to do a project together. I met Zack years ago and always loved him. I had an instant connection with this guy. He’s my type of director. He’s kind of a man’s man; he likes to train a lot and is all tatted up. We just kind of understand each other. We’d been talking about this other project, which is a really great acting role for me. It’s a passion project for him, but for one reason or another, we just couldn’t get it going. When he got a hold of Army of the Dead, he actually wrote a smaller part for me in there. As he was gearing up for casting, he started thinking about who his lead would be, and he told me this personally, “One day, it just clicked: God, Dave is not that part; Dave is my lead.” So, he called me and asked me if I would do it; I said, “Hell yeah. I’d be happy to do it.” I really just want to work with Zack.
The interview also discusses Bautista's role in the upcoming Dune remake and the rumor that he would star in The Suicide Squad. Onscreen, however, the wrestler-turned-actor will next be seen working his comedic muscles in Stuber. Co-starring alongside Kumail Nanjiani (Men in Black: International), the action-comedy sees a hardened detective forced to team-up with a mild-mannered Uber driver in order to solve a case. With Gunn back on board as director, he'll also assuredly return as Drax the Destroyer in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Regarding Snyder, his body of work is mostly described as mixed at best. As seen via the aforementioned Snyder Cut campaign, he's not without his diehard supporters. Based on his comments, Bautista clearly counts himself among them. That can only be a good thing for the movie going forward. As seen by the MCU's Guardians of the Galaxy films, Bautista, like most actors, turns in his best work when passionate about the project and those at the helm. As such, Netflix's zombie-heist film looks set to live up to its potential as one of 2020's most exciting horror films.
Army of the Dead is expected to be released sometime in 2020.