Some people may only know Dave Bautista as Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy, but Bautista also had a career in the WWE long before making it to the silver screen. One of the few wrestlers to make the jump to a movie career, Bautista has made a name for himself playing a remarkable array of roles, starring in action movies, comedies, and dramas. So who is this giant of a man who’s conquered the ring and the silver screen? Dive into these facts and find out!
1. Enter The Dragon
Some people collect stamps, Bautista collects vintage lunch boxes, boasting a collection of over 100. Bautista’s favorite is a 1967 Green Hornet lunch box, complete with an image of Bruce Lee as Cato. Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn also got a custom Drax lunch box for Bautista back in 2014.
During his tenure in the WWE, Bautista won the WWE Championship and World Heavyweight Championship six times. Of course, there is some element of theatre for the smackdowns, but Bautista still has more WWE titles than we do.
3. Fond Memories
Dave Bautista actually started his acting career before leaving the WWE in 2010. After getting a few small roles, Bautista played himself on the Australian soap opera Neighbours in 2009. Fellow MCU co-star Chris Hemsworth also appeared on the show in his younger years. The WWE helped to set up the gig, but Bautista wasn’t exactly impressed. He remembers the set looking like “an abandoned school…surprising they did so well because they didn’t seem to put a lot into it.”
4. Hard Knock Life
Bautista has the money to collect lunch boxes now, but his upbringing was riddled with crime and poverty. He lived with his single mom and sister in Washington D.C. In Bautista’s words, “three people died at different times in my front yard before I was nine.” Bautista also remembers a childhood where his mom forbade her children from leaving the house at night for their own safety.
5. Mandela Effect
Dave Bautista’s birthdate is January 18, 1969. Apparently, someone in the WWE wrote a story saying he was born in 1966, and Bautista has had to fight for people to believe him since. One particular incident that sticks out is a guy trying to hit on Bautista’s girlfriend, telling her that Bautista is 42, not 38 like he claimed (at the time).
6. The Second
Dave and his sister, Donna, were both named after their parents. Both siblings’ full names end with Junior, which Bautista credits to a lack of originality and a desire for their names to be easy to remember. Dave Michael Bautista Jr. and Donna Raye Bautista Jr.
7. Small Town
Bautista portrayed a Kryptonian villain in Smallville. The character, Aldar, appeared in a handful of episodes in 2006. Aldar was a criminal banished to the Phantom Zone by Superman’s biological dad, Jor-El. Once he escaped from the Phantom Zone, Aldar eventually made his way to earth to feast on humans (literally). He tore his victims apart and sucked out their bone marrow. Honestly, sounds like pretty good practice for the future Drax.
8. East Side
Dave Bautista has Filipino ancestry from his dad’s side, and Greek from his mom’s. Bautista feels more connected to the fans in the Philippines due to his family’s connection, and the fans also embrace Bautista as “one of their own.” According to family legend, Bautista’s paternal grandpa used to work for gangsters in San Francisco after serving in WWII. When grandpa Bautista ran afoul of the gangsters, for undisclosed reasons, he decided that the east side would be a better home.
9. Different Path
The WWE might be an act, but Bautista has been in some real brawls. Due to a strained relationship with his parents, Bautista was living on his own by the age of 17. Bautista started bouncing at a club in Virginia, and but had to quit when a brawl with a customer led to one year of probation. Bautista was enrolled in Wild Samoan Afa’s Wrestling School within a month of his sentencing.
10. We’ll Meet Again
The first time Bautista went to a WWE show, he’d already figured out he wanted to pursue wrestling for a career. Bushy-tailed and starry-eyed, he hoped to talk to some industry professionals for advice. This led to him getting kicked out of the venue.
The film that truly made Bautista want to pursue acting full-time was a 2010 direct-to-DVD feature called Wrong Side of Town. Bautista took a small role as a favor to a friend involved with the production. Bautista admits his role “wasn’t very good,” but it planted the seed for pursuing an acting career.
12. What are the Odds?
In a strange coincidence, Dave Bautista met the voice of Rocket Raccoon, Bradley Cooper, while he was filming Guardians of the Galaxy. Why’s that a weird coincidence? Cooper hadn’t even been cast yet! Cooper was in London to watch Wimbledon and he happened to run into Bautista at a gym. It was only after their encounter that they learned they’d be starring in the same movie.
Bautista’s paternal grandpa wasn’t a particularly warm person, and he apparently never held Dave or any of his cousins much when they were babies—until one day when the dam broke. Bautista’s mother became busy with something and forced grandpa to hold his grandson for a moment. By the time she retrieved him, Bautista and grandpa had bonded and Dave would go on be his grandpa’s favorite grandson.
The Drax makeup took four hours to apply and about one hour-and-a-half to remove. Bautista didn’t mind the application much…for the first few days. It became more tiresome as the shoot wore on, mainly because the makeup made his skin more sensitive and tender (just like Drax!). The makeup also prevented Bautista from being able to sit down, so he remembers hours spent leaning on whatever was closeby.
15. Late Bloomer
Bautista isn’t afraid to admit that he was “real old” for a starting wrestler, debuting in his thirties. His age, plus a workout regime that was too focused on heavy weights, are credited for Bautista’s numerous WWE-era injuries. The list includes torn (and re-torn) muscles in his back, triceps, and hamstring.
16. Star Lord
Bautista looks back on his Guardians audition, and his performance, with some trepidation because he knows that his nerves and self-consciousness held him back. He was “terrified” for his audition and felt out of place joining filming since he came on about two weeks after his co-stars. In contrast, Bautista idolizes Chris Pratt for his confidence and credits Pratt for helping Drax to come alive: “I’ve never seen anybody who can just kind of put himself so at ease…”
17. New Grounds
Due to his size and the fanbase he brought with him from WWE, Bautista’s agent understandably wanted to get his client in some action movies. In contrast, Bautista wants to become a character actor who can play all kinds of different roles. However, he acknowledges it’s a little tricky—you know, because, as he puts it, he looks like a “****ing gorilla.” Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained right?
18. All My Friends…
Lunchboxes aside, Bautista does have some more typical manly-man hobbies. Since 2010, he has been a member of the Imperial Cars Club. Bautista reps his 1964 Chevy Impala for the club and also has a pretty robust car collection, including some motorcycles, a Mercedes-Benz SL 500, and a Hummer H2.
The workout routine is sometimes the most grueling part of an actor’s prep. In Bautista’s case, he didn’t need any help to put on 15-20 pounds, as requested by director James Gunn for Guardians. Bautista only took about a month to put the extra bulk on and there was apparently no other dieting or training needed for the look of Drax.
Dave Bautista has already worked with some heavy-hitting directors, all with drastically different directing styles. James Gunn of Guardians gave the cast freedom to improvise and would sometimes shout dialogue suggestions from the chair. The Bushwick directors used a lot of handheld “long take” shots and used little improvisation, making Bautista focus more on his body language. And finally, he has spoken about Denis Villeneuve’s level of specificity on Blade Runner 2049, which dictated everything from how he walked to how he put on his glasses.
21. We Meet Again
Like Bradley Cooper, Bautista also met Guardians co-star Vin Diesel prior to filming. Bautista worked with Diesel in Riddick, and acknowledges that Diesel was the one who hired him. However, the jump to Guardians was a coincidence for both.
22. All The Way Up
After spending time with Wild Samoan Training Center, Bautista made his way to Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW). OWV served as a farm system for the WWE (WWF at the time) and Bautista played the role of Leviathan, “a demon raised from the Ohio River.” Bautista had fun playing the character but admits it was over the top. Leviathan joined the WWE in 2002 and was redubbed Deacon Batista, the suited henchman of another heel. Bautista dropped the “U” in his legal name for the stage name. Deacon Batista eventually became Batista and Batista went on to beat Triple H for the World Heavyweight title in 2005.
23. Step Aside Bruckheimer
Dave Bautista’s long-term Hollywood goal is to become a producer. The role mainly appeals to him due to the power it would grant to get films made e.g. finding a script and having the influence, connections, and resources to get it made.
24. A Galaxy…
Of course Bautista owns some Star Wars lunchboxes, and he mixed his hobby with his professional life when he auditioned for two Star Wars films. Bautista won’t say which ones they were, but the timeline suggests it was likely Episode VII, VIII, or Rogue One, especially since Bautista is a big fan of the latter.
25. Moving On
Bautista’s mom described herself as the black sheep of her family, due to her liberal views contrasting with her dad’s conservative ones. His mom also had a relationship with another woman after she and Bautista’s dad split up. According to Ms. Bautista, her dad was more upset when he found out she was a democrat.
26. 57 and 0
While Ronda Rousey went from UFC to WWE, Bautista tried to do the opposite. Bautista has one MMA fight to his name, a 2012 bout that he won via TKO. However, it wasn’t exactly a title fight. One outlet described Bautista’s opponent as someone “who looked like his only championship glory came in a hot dog eating contest.” Perhaps, it’s a good thing Bautista found another route to success.
27. Top Two
In terms of Bond portrayals, Bautista has stated Daniel Craig made him a “fan again,” but old-school Sean Connery was the second (obvious) choice. Bautista was also attracted to his near-silent character in Spectre, Mr. Hinx, because it hearkened back to older Bond films. In particular, the role reminded him of the henchman Jaws from The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker.
28. Gentle Giant
Bautista’s got it all: He’s a successful wrestler, an actor—and he’s sensitive too. Bautista knows a few words in the Filipino language of Tagalog, but feels more connected to the Philippines when it comes to his outlook on emotions. He credits his sensitivity to his Filipino side, stating that his dad raised him not to be ashamed to cry.
29. Nicer than Ramsey
Bautista appeared as a guest judge on an episode of Iron Chef, weighing in on delicacies such as snail pizza (which he loved).
30. Young Love
Although his mom and dad were high school sweethearts, their love was more strained when the two became parents. Bautista’s dad admits he wasn’t prepared for parenthood, but Bautista says his dad “could have taken a better shot at it.” The only real family time Bautista remembers is watching The Gong Show with his parents.
31. The Get Down
Bautista didn’t play sports much in school, mainly because his grades didn’t make the cut. However, he did get into breakdancing and even used these skills in a WWE Summerslam promo.
Dave Bautista is somewhat infamous among WWE fans for a real backstage fight that occurred in 2006. In an all-too-real moment, Bautista and Booker T brawled for a few minutes behind-the-scenes before being separated. Neither figure has confirmed exactly what the fight was about and they have since reconciled. Booker T attributes the squabble to “testosterone,” but some sources say the fight started because Booker T was criticizing Bautista’s arrogance. Allegedly, Bautista was comparing himself to the greats a bit too much. For the record, Booker T came out top in the fight before it was split up, according to most sources.
Hollywood isn’t immune to a bit of hazing, and Bautista got his from Hotel Artemis co-star Jodie Foster. Foster was quick to say Bautista, at 6’3″ and 290 pounds, was smaller than she thought he’d be. She also said Liam Neeson (who is an inch taller) is “much bigger.” Another co-star, Sterling K. Brown, assured Bautista that Foster was joking and Foster has since praised Bautista’s role in the film.
Bautista, now 49, had his first kids during his early 20s. He became a grandpa before he hit 40, thanks to his daughter Keilani.
35. PG too PC
Some outlets trace Bautista’s decision to leave WWE to a 2008 cage match with Chris Jericho. During the match, Bautista cut himself in order to get some blood going for the audience. The practice, known as “blading,” led to a $100,000 fine. Bautista was always critical of the WWE’s “PG-era” and didn’t mince words when talking about WWE executive, Vince McMahon: “He sucked the life out of me that day. That’s the day I knew things were never going to be the same.”
36. Performance Review
Director James Gunn has nothing but praise for Bautista as Drax, going so far as to say that Drax is most people’s favorite character in Guardians. Gunn attributes this to nothing but Bautista’s acting talent.
37. Stone Cold
Bautista’s first fight was a short skirmish with a kid who stole his skateboard. After the initial theft, Bautista’s friends found the culprit. One of them found Bautista at his house and led him back to his stolen property. When the thief got desperate and immediately tried to steal the skateboard again, Bautista ended the struggle with one punch.
38. Under the Needle
Bautista’s tattoos include a Filipino flag on his right shoulder, a red dragon on his back, a sun around his belly button, and tattoos of his dogs’ faces.
Dave Bautista has been married three times. First, he married Glenda in 1990. They were together for eight years and she gave him two daughters. Almost as soon as he divorced Glenda, he married Angie, with whom he had one son. This marriage also lasted eight years, before the two split up in 2006. His latest wife was competitive pole dancer Sarah Jade, who he wed in 2015 before separating in 2019.
40. Third Time’s The Charm
Say what you want about him, but Dave Bautista stands by his director. After Disney fired James Gunn from Guardians of the Galaxy 3, Bautista was absolutely furious. He called Gunn “one of the most loving, caring, good-natured people” he knows, and even went so far as to threaten walking away from the MCU entirely if Disney threw out Gunn’s script. Bautista isn’t a movie star on the level of Robert Downey Jr. or Chris Evans, and standing up to Disney took some guts—but it all worked out in the end. Disney finally rehired Gunn, and Bautista now says that everything cool between him and the studio.