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Dave Bautista is now a true Hollywood heavyweight, with not one but two successful entertainment careers under his belt. Long before he became such a headliner in the worlds of wrestling and acting, though, Bautista was just a shy guy with odd jobs who liked to breakdance. He didn't know what his future would hold. Since then, he's come a long way. As Scott Ward, a zombie-slaying legend in Zack Snyder's "Army of the Dead," Bautista is the man leading a team of mercenaries into dangerous territory in order to complete a daring heist. Like Bautista, Scott is reserved but strong, and deeper than you'd suspect on first glance. The role marks the culmination of a very long journey -- here's exactly how Dave Bautista went from a young break-dancer to a fully-fledged movie star. And viewer beware, spoilers ahead. Bautista recounted the details of his difficult upbringing in his 2008 memoir, "Batista Unleashed," in which he revealed that he experienced poverty as a kid in Washington, D.C. and witnessed violence in his rough neighborhood. In a 2020 appearance on the "Inside of You with Michael Rosenbaum" podcast, Bautista
said that these tough life experiences made him unambitious early on, "I didn't have any goals growing up. I know this sounds stupid but when I was growing up, I wanted to be not dead and not in jail." Fortunately, as a teen, Bautista and his buddies found a unique way to stay safe: breakdancing. On "Live! With Kelly and Ryan," Bautista explained that it was a positive social activity for him. "You know, I grew up in the street, and we were either fighting or getting in trouble or dancing, if you wanted to be cool and to hang out and to be social." Ultimately, Bautista didn't use his dance routines to go pro -- at least, he hasn't yet -- but his ability to bust a move has come in handy during his film career, particularly for that hilarious dance scene in "My Spy." Known today for his incredible physique, Bautista fell in love with weightlifting when he was 17. He discovered that bodybuilding was a perfect match for his tall, thin build. As he quickly bulked up, Bautista became obsessed with lifting, and that changed everything for him. It would be several years before Bautista's bodybuilding prowess led to bigger things,
but Bautista still considers his workout regimen to be both a professional requirement and a personal form of therapy. After the birth of his first child, Bautista began working as a bouncer in D.C. to help pay the bills. "When I said I took out the garbage, I meant human trash." The work made him a decent wage, but Bautista found that the job was much more dangerous than he liked. On Rosenbaum's podcast, Bautista described the region at the time as incredibly violent, comparing it to a war zone. "There was nights when I thought I was gonna walk out the door at the end of the night and get shot. Like I didn't think I was making it home." Despite the danger, Bautista didn't decide to change careers until he wasn't bringing in enough money to support his children. Bautista explained on "The Darkest Timeline with Ken Jeong and Joel McHale" that, when he was around 30 years old, he had a particularly crushing financial situation that convinced him it was time for a change. "I was humiliated that I had to go and borrow money from one of my employers to buy my kids
Christmas presents." It's then that he decided to give wrestling a whirl, and his life changed forever. Bautista is now one of the superstars of the wrestling world, but he was actually rejected at his first audition. On "Live! With Kelly and Ryan," Bautista explained that WCW's rejection made him even more committed to an in-ring career. "They told me I was horrible and to leave and to never come back, and I would never be a professional wrestler. But that just made me mad, so it made me want to pursue it. And then I just became obsessed with it." After a decade in the pro wrestling business, Bautista found another, more illustrious outlet for his passion: the world of acting. For Bautista, the transition from pro wrestling to on-camera acting seemed natural. As he told "Good Morning Britain," he'd already been engaged in "physical theater" for years. However, Bautista soon discovered that there was a big difference between putting on a show for a live audience and performing in a much smaller setting. His first onscreen gig was an uncredited role as a wrestler in the 2006 film "Relative Strangers," followed by parts in television series like "Smallville" and "Chuck."
He secured the role of villain Brass Body in the 2012 martial arts action film "The Man with the Iron Fists," and soon after won the marvelous part that would catapult him to the A-list. Before he became Drax the Destroyer in "Guardians of the Galaxy," Bautista wasn't really known for his comedic talents, but writer-director James Gunn knew exactly what he was doing when he chose Bautista for the role. In 2021 Gunn said on Twitter that what sets Bautista apart from other wrestlers in Hollywood is that Bautista "takes the craft seriously," saying: "He’s grounded in real emotion & not showy. [...] His rawness set him apart from the first moment I met him. It was merely a matter of creating a space where he could come and share himself with all of us." "I have mastered the ability of standing so incredibly still that I become invisible to the eye." In addition to reprising his role as Drax in various "Guardians" and "Avengers" movies, Bautista has also branched out into other genre work. In the 2015 James Bond film "Spectre," Bautista starred as the assassin Mr. Hinx. He appeared as security guard Jason Cox in the 2015 action film "Heist," and had a whole
lot of fun as Arun in the 2016 martial arts film "Enter the Warriors Gate." In 2017, Bautista stole the show as replicant medic Sapper Morton in "Blade Runner 2049." He has a recurring role in the "Escape Plan" films, and has lent his comedic talents to movies like "My Spy" and "Stuber." Bautista's latest film, "Army of the Dead," gives the wrestler-turned-actor a chance to show off his dramatic chops, too. At its heart, it's a story about the strained relationship between a father, played by Bautista, and his daughter. In fact, Bautista claims that he's most in his element during dramatic scenes, not action setpieces. And indeed, in "Army of the Dead," Bautista gets the opportunity to show off more of his heart than his muscles, although don't worry: Given that Bautista's character is engaging in a war against an undead army and running a daring casino heist at the same time, "Army of the Dead" is still packed with edge-of-your-seat excitement. Thanks for watching. Click the links in our video to watch more from Netflix Film Club. Subscribe to our YouTube channel to get the latest exclusive videos. Plus hit the bell so you don’t miss a single one.
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