Dave Bautista Feels Like He Proved Himself As A 'Respected Actor' In Knock At The Cabin

It's hard to argue that Dave Bautista isn't one of the most dynamic performers currently working right now. He has managed to create a varied filmography that plays with his strengths and public persona in interesting ways. Even if someone isn't a particular fan of his acting, it's always cool to see an actor actually have a filmography that proves their range.

"Knock at the Cabin" might be Bautista's biggest range test yet. The new M. Night Shyamalan movie casts him as the quiet and reserved Leonard, who arrives with four other people at a secluded cabin occupied by a vacationing family (Jonathan Groff, Ben Aldridge, Kristen Cui). There, Leonard and the rest of the intruders demand that one member of the family must be sacrificed by the end of the day in order to prevent the apocalypse. Even though this would be a daunting role for any actor to pick up, it's an especially big deal for Bautista — at least according to him. Looper recently sat down to talk with him, and he said that the role of Leonard felt like a dream come true.

"Here was my opportunity to be in the spot, and I feel good about it," Bautista said. "Because if nothing else, I proved my point, which was that I never set out to be a movie star, I wanted to be a respected actor."

Proving himself

Bautista has made it clear that he's struggled to get the type of roles he wants in Hollywood. This isn't exactly a surprise — many other former or current WWE Superstars often find themselves doing stunt work or less-than-acclaimed action fare. There is certainly nothing wrong with either of these career paths, but for Bautista, they didn't scratch an itch he had for meatier roles. And while he has had supporting roles in films like "Blade Runner 2049" and "Dune," something about "Knock at the Cabin" felt different.

"When this came along, it was just so much of what I've been searching for," he said, "not only to have this huge role with tons of dialogue and a lot of layers of emotion but also have a director, a monster director like M. Night Shyamalan."

He also cited the fact that Shyamalan's approach, to only shoot with one camera and to shoot on film rather than digitally, upped the stakes for him as a performer. Because of that way of working, the room for mistakes drastically dwindled:

"I've got a whole room full of cast mates who are also relying on me hitting my dialogue, nailing my dialogue, because we're shooting on one camera with film, with one shots. If they nail their dialogue, they crush it, and put all this emotion and energy into their performances, and then the camera turns to me and I blow it, then their performances are completely wiped out and we've got to start all over again. It's a massive amount of responsibility and weight on my shoulders for this one."

Make a choice

Regardless of what's at stake with his role as Leonard, Bautista feels like it's all worth it. That's because Leonard is a role that truly embodies what he wants to do with his career: play roles that acknowledge and implement his physical abilities, but don't confine his emotional range.

"It was everything I wished for, hoped for, and asked for over the years," said Bautista. "If nothing else, people can never say that I didn't get outside of my box and challenge myself because I think I proved my point in this one."

It certainly looks like he's right in this regard. Leonard appears to be different from other roles he's taken in the past, and that might end up being a good thing. He's able to look menacing and imposing due to his stature, but his soft-spoken demeanor makes his presence feel that much more unnerving. We're excited to see Bautista on the screen in this role, and we're sure whatever fun twist Shyamalan may have cooked up for him will be worth the wait.

"Knock at the Cabin" arrives in theaters on February 3, 2023.