Dave Bautista Knives Out 2

Knives Out is a film built on a foundation of cinematic pleasures. Its witty, twisted script. Rian Johnson’s quietly stylish direction. Production and costume design that make you want to redecorate and replace your entire wardrobe. But at the top of that heap is the cast. Daniel Craig’s private detective Benoit Blanc found himself surrounded by a murderer’s row of suspects, each and every one of them played by an actor that you (you meaning “everyone reading this sentence”) like to watch onscreen. It was an ensemble of gems, each performer an immediate crowd-pleaser.

This is not lost on Dave Bautista, who was recently announced as joining the cast of Knives Out 2, which will see the return of Johnson and Craig, but the introduction of a wholly new supporting cast. Bautista shrugged off the “former professional wrestler” stigma with his hilarious work in Guardians of the Galaxy, and he’s shown himself to be a hungry, curious, and adventurous actor since then, turning in memorable performances in films like Spectre and Blade Runner 2049. Joining the sequel to a film that utilized a such a powerful ensemble feels like the next step, and he is well-aware of the pressure.

I spoke with Bautista about his work in Zack Snyder’s upcoming Netflix action/horror movie Army of the Dead, but the conversation shifted toward Knives Out 2, which is set to film in Greece this year. In the days since his casting was announced, the ensemble has grown around him – first Edward Norton, and then Janelle Monae. For an actor so good at playing tough guys, Bautista was refreshingly upfront about being intimidated by the project, but he’s ready to deliver:

It feels terrifying. I’m nervous about it. I’m really nervous. It’s one of those things where now the pressure’s on, because people are expecting things from you. I want to deliver. I take pride in that. I’m a game player. I want to throw a touchdown pass. I know the script is brilliant, I know the director is brilliant, and I know everybody that they’re going to cast – obviously Daniel [Craig] is there, he’s brilliant, and I believe Ed Norton’s been cast as well. So the names are going to get bigger and better, and for me, I can’t get it out of my head that – there’s always going to be a part of me that feels like I’m new to this and I’m still learning, and I want to be able to hold my own. So there is a bit of an intimidation factor, because all these actors and directors are just accomplished and seasoned and award-winners. But at the end of the day, this is how I gauge my career, the people I’m working with. The projects that I’m on, the directors that I work with. So I know being announced as part of this cast is a huge statement, because the first film crushed.

Throughout our conversation, Bautista emphasized his interest in wanting to work with the best people possible so he could learn from them. A Knives Out sequel, he says, is the latest step to him becoming the actor he wants to be:

Like you said, the cast was a who’s who, and I like being in that conversation, man. It’s just validation. This is why I was in this. I still aspire to be a great actor, and I don’t know if I can get there unless I get those roles that require me to be a great actor. So again, I’m just kind of stepping the ladder, but it’s very validating to get a role like this in a film like this.

Bautista can be seen next in Army of the Dead, which hits theaters on May 14, 2021 and streams on Netflix starting May 21, 2021.

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