dave bautista army of the dead

Dave Bautista was recently faced with an enviable choice: he had to decide to be in one big movie being made by a popular director, or another big movie being made by a popular director. Bautista was offered roles in both James Gunn‘s The Suicide Squad and Zack Snyder‘s Army of the Dead, and while the actor has a great working relationship with Gunn, he ultimately decided on Snyder’s zombie movie. Why? Simple: it was the better career move. But that doesn’t mean Bautista didn’t feel a little guilty about turning his friend Gunn down.

I’ve long thought Dave Bautista is one of the best wrestlers-turned-actors because he seems to really be interested in acting. Most of the time when wrestlers jump to the big screen they’re basically playing the same uninspired role over and over again, but Bautista seems to actually want to challenge himself with his acting career, and I’ve always appreciated that. One of Bautista’s biggest stepping stones into the world of acting was his work in James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy films. As Drax, Bautista gets to show off his comedic chops, and he’s crafted a memorable, much-loved character in the process.

The experience has made Bautista very appreciative of Gunn, and when Gunn was fired by Disney over some old but admittedly offensive tweets, Bautista was one of the first people to come to Gunn’s defense and push for him to be rehired. Eventually, Disney wised up and brought Gunn back into the fold. In the midst of all this happening, though, Gunn also was hired by Warner Bros. to direct The Suicide Squad. And as it turned out, Gunn had a role for Bautista in his new WB movie – but this resulted in a conflict.

“James Gunn wrote a role for me in The Suicide Squad, which I was all fired up about, not only because he was making a huge comeback. He’s come back with The Suicide Squad and was rehired by Marvel, and has really been vindicated as far as that whole thing went,” Bautista told Digital Spy. “I was all up for it, and then I got Army of the Dead, which was not only a lead role for me, but also I really wanted to work with Zack Snyder. I’ve been wanting to work with him for years.”

As Bautista saw it, he had to make the decision that was best for his career. “I had The Suicide Squad where I got to work with my boy again, even though it’s a smaller role, and then I had Army of the Dead on which I get to work with Zack, I get to build a relationship with Netflix, I get a lead role in a great film – and I get paid a lot more money,” he said.

Ultimately, Bautista went with Army of the Dead, but he felt bad about turning down Gunn, telling the filmmaker, “It breaks my heart, because as a friend, I want to be there with you, but professionally, this is the smart decision for me.” But Gunn, for his part, was completely understanding. “He said, ‘I completely get it. I’m proud of you that you’re even in this position. I’m proud that I had something to do with you being in this position where you have to make these hard decisions.'”

And now Bautista gets to lead his own Netflix movie, which is due to arrive in select theaters on May 14, and then digitally on Netflix on May 21.

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