What’s it like to hang out with Drax on the set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2? Um, Awesome. In full makeup, but in total Dave Bautista fashion, we got the scoop on why he “owns” Drax, and why this time around he’s feeling much more comfortable in his skin.
Last time I sat down with Dave, was during the press junket for the first Guardians of the Galaxy. He seemed a little intimated by the press, even a big WWF former star can be intimated by a room full of moms. But this time around, it was easy to see that he’s much more comfortable in this setting. Once again, like it was speaking to Zoe Saldana in full costume, it’s a treat. To see the makeup done so close up is just so cool to experience. And since Drax and Dave are practically one in the same when it comes to humor, this interview was a fun one to share.
Drax on the set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2
What’s it like to be back with your Guardians of the Galaxy family?
It’s awesome. It’s so weird ‘cause this is a first reoccurring role for me, so now I got to be part of the screen testing process rather than screen testing for myself. Also, I realized how comfortable I was in the role.
When I watched the first film I can see that I transitioned from being like very nervous and very uncomfortable to being very comfortable and really getting into character, also being comfortable on a big set, ‘cause it was a huge deal for me. That was my first really huge film. It’s so easy this time around ‘cause we all know each other, and we spent so much time together; not only on the first film but also on the press tour. So we all got to be close; especially when we were in London because we only had each other to really kind of lean on ‘cause we were foreigners in a foreign country making this film, and nobody knew what to expect from it. We all got close so, yeah, we’re like family.
Can you tell us a little bit about your makeup process?
It’s awesome because if we got it done in four hours on the first film, it was a great day. I mean, everybody was celebrating. This one is like an hour and a half at the most. It’s because of a whole new system they’re using, and it’s so funny for they used to just dab on the paint and that’s how they started the process. Now they attack me with paint rollers. There’s like five guys rolling paint, and then there’s other stuff too.
But see these tattoos were actually sheets of silicone on the first one. Now they’re just transferred, so all of these are individual pieces, and they’re moldings of glue, so they stick on to me. But also it’s very hard to get off. So at the end of the day, I sit in the sauna for about an hour, and I sit there and I kind of start to sweat it off, and they come and peel it off of me. So but still, it’s so fast now it’s not even an issue. It’s uncomfortable, and it smells bad. It’s not bad compared to the first one. The first one was rough.
The last time some of us sat down with you was the interviews for the premiere of the movie, and so you guys were doing interviews not knowing exactly how the movie would be. So now looking back at that, what was that like for you?
It’s weird. And it is one of those things where like we just, we didn’t know. Nobody knew, and we weren’t going to know until after the opening weekend. And then after the opening weekend, everybody was just sitting around like in shock, ‘cause not only did it do as well as we were hoping but it did way better than that. I mean, it was like breaking records, so it was great. It kind of felt satisfying ‘cause we all believed in it. We knew it was gonna be great. But you just don’t know until people actually come out, and then you start to get the reviews, and the reviews are just so great. I mean, out of 1,000 reviews, you might get like one negative comment. But even they would say but all in all, it was great, but in one little negative comment. But it was satisfying.
Tell us about your relationship with Mantis.
I don’t know what’s safe to say without getting in trouble. Well, I also don’t want to give anything away, either. But I will say Mantis and Drax definitely make a connection. It’s probably not the connection most people are going to expect or that people might be reading into, but a connection. I think that fans have to remember that the heart of Drax is his heartbreak over his family. I don’t think there’s ever gonna be that next love interest for Drax. I think he had that love interest; she’s gone, that what he’s driven by is that, that heartbreak, you know, that sinking revenge.
What do you love about playing this character?
I think what I love most about him is that he is not what people expect. Like when I did the first one, I think people expected Drax to be a certain way, and James went the totally opposite way with him. I think if you take a big guy and he looks menacing, and he looks terrified, it’s easy to be that guy on screen, you know? You growl a lot, you snarl a lot, you cut people’s heads off, and it’s easy. There’s just nothing challenging about it. But to be that guy and look that way, but then to make people laugh, I think is the challenge. And I think that’s the fun part, and that’s what I love about Drax. I think it’s fair to say that there’s a lot more of that in this film. I think Drax just has a bigger role in this film. I think he struck a chord with people in the first one. James got a real kick out of writing for Drax. I know that he does ‘cause we’ll sit there, and we read, and he just laughs and laughs and laughs. And also when I deliver the lines that he’s written, I can hear him laughing. I know he’s amused by it, so I know he really loves the character, and my role has definitely increased in this film.
What’s your typical day like on set?
It’s really structured. I come in first thing in the morning. My typical pickup time would be about 4:30, 5. I come in, do my makeup, and we’re usually right on set, and we stay on set. We run a 10-hour day. So we don’t have like lunch breaks, we don’t go and chill for an hour. But that’s it. Usually, we come, and we eat on set, and we hang out on set. Once we get to set, we’re usually on set for the rest of the day. Then we wrap, and I hit the sauna. (Laughs)
So not too late.
No, not too late. Typically we would start about 8:00 so if we do a 10-hour day we’re usually wrapped by six. It’s not uncommon for us to go over I’d say eight at the latest. We are just on set hanging out, eating, laughing, and a lot of talking. It’s not uncommon for Zoe, Chris and myself to be standing in a circle talking when everybody’s going, “we’re rolling.” And we just lose sight of it.
It must be hard to shoot some scenes with a straight face.
It’s weird because sometimes I typically get silly if I have a close-up because when you’re off camera, you’re not so much into it so when off camera you’re more likely to smile and laugh at the scene. More of a spectator rather than being in the scene as an actor.
And a lot of times when I will do my close-up, and I have to deliver these lines very straight-faced, but they’re funny, funny lines, and Zoe will just start laughing at me off camera or Chris will start laughing. And I have to say stop laughing, ‘cause once I get the giggles, everybody gets the giggles. But there’s a lot of that in this film ‘cause the script is just, it’s just so funny, just so well-written and so funny.
What’s one thing you would like to see for your character?
Well, I’d like to see my character in The Avengers. (Laughs) You know, this is wishful thinking. You know, I’d like to see my character stick it to Thanos but that’s just me. Those are personal things. Otherwise, I’m pretty satisfied with Drax. He’s more than I ever thought he could be or wished that he could be. I have to give a lot of credit to James for that. He’s been the creative mind behind Drax. I think he’s created an incredible character.
Being that this is your first sequel are you finding more or less pressure with delivering Drax to the audience?
Way less pressure ‘cause I’m already so comfortable. Now I feel like I am Drax and I own Drax; he’s my character. Of course, the brain behind Drax is James, but he has written this role for me. He knows what my strengths are now and he’s written it for me, and he just has a good idea of who Drax should be, and I think he knows how fans want Drax to be as well. He knows what they’re expecting, but I just feel so comfortable in the role, and it’s just been much, much easier and no pressure. There’s a little bit of pressure now that I watched Captain America and it was so well-done. Were you guys there? It was so well-done. And I was like wow, it’s a hard act to follow. Marvel just keeps stepping it up, man. They just keep stepping it up.
So were you a fan of the comic books growing up?
Not so much. I got my superhero fix from TV and, and later on movies, like everybody else, cartoons of course. I was more that kid, sitting in front of the television or going to the movies than I was to sit down and read a comic book or any book. Not because I was stupid, but I had issues reading. I still do have a little dyslexia going on, so I still struggle a bit. And it’s hard for me to sit down and read a book. I learn better verbally.
How did you get yourself physically prepared for this role?
Uh, that’s so funny you ask because I didn’t train for the last one. And I had the luxury of the big sheets of latex, and I came in and did the first makeup test for this film, I was like wow, I have to be in shape for this. (Laughs) Because the makeup is unforgiving, I mean, it doesn’t hide anything. So I trained rigorously for this, and I still do. I can’t train on the days that we work, but the days that I’m off, people always say what do you do with your days off? I work out. Sometimes twice a day. I’ve been hitting it hard because I want to deliver. I want Drax to look the part as well, so I took this more seriously, diving and training, so hopefully, it’ll show.
Do you have a message to boys who look up to you and your character? There’s that soft side. You know, you’re doing it for a reason so that sort of message?
I can’t think of one off the top of my head but, I think even the message from the first one, even more so with this one is just sometimes you have to think about the greater good rather than yourself. I think that was the message in the first one and I think that will be again in the second one. This film even more so is about family. And without giving too much away, I don’t want to say much more, but I think this one is much more about family and friendships. And when I say friendships I mean sometimes your friends are your family, you know? Sometimes you choose your family. I think you get a lot more of that in this one.
The soundtrack played such a huge role in the first film. Any favorites?
I was raised by a single mom; she had a very eclectic taste in music. I do have a few favorites from the first one. I was trying to choose one and, uh, and it’s hard. It’s hard to choose. Definitely One More Chance. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough. Those would be my two. But also Cherry Bomb, like whenever we think of the first film we always sing it on the set. Zoe will start singing it, and it’s like I love that song. Yeah, we do, we always end up singing that song. (singing) Cherry Bomb.
Do you do all of your stunts?
Not any special stunts. I have the same stuntman from the first film. It was hard finding a stunt double for me for a while. And they found him for me on that film, and I’ve dragged him around the world. He’s been on three other films with me since then. He’s great. It’s hard to find a big guy who’s like super athletic but also really experienced. And he just fits the bill man, and I’ve dragged him around, as long as I can continue to drag him around the world with me, I will because he’s just such a great stuntman. Many people may think that I’m a professional wrestler and I can do my own stunts. Sometimes I don’t want to do my own stunts, you know? I don’t want to like there was a part where they set the character on fire. And I was like ‘stuntman, please.’ I don’t want to be set on fire. I did my ten years in WWE. I’ve proved that I’m tough enough. I don’t have anything to prove. (Laughs)
In case you missed it! Check out my other Guardian of the Galaxy Set visit posts.
Guardians of the Galaxy opens May 5, 2017
*I was invited by Disney/Marvel to attend a special press trip to share my experience with my readers. All opinions are my own.