There have been many wrestlers-turned-actors over the years (“Rowdy” Roddy Piper in They Live, Andre the Giant in The Princess Bride, Kevin Nash in Magic Mike XXL, etc.), but none have been as consistently successful as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. His movies have grossed over $10.5 billion worldwide, with many billions to come from Black Adam, Jungle Cruise, and the inevitable third Jumanji movie. But just because The Rock is the King of Hollywood doesn’t mean Dave Bautista wants his career.
The Army of the Dead star, who wrestled under the name Batista, was recently asked by JoBlo about whether his muscular physicality has been an “asset” to his acting career. “No, because I’ve tried to go the other route. Like, The Rock is a perfect example of someone who uses that strength, so I wanted to go against that grain and make everything much smaller, very subtle. I make a living off of subtlety. I want that to be my strength. I want that to be what separates us. I don’t want to be that guy who walks in that room, I never wanted to be that guy,” he said. Bautista doesn’t mean that as a shot at The Rock, “but you know how he is as a character.” He continued:
“He feels very professional wrestling to me. I don’t want to be that guy. I want to be an actor. I want to act, I want people to judge me for my acting, my subtlety. I want to take roles that require that. I don’t want to be a big action guy who just says cool shit and kills a lot of people and gets the girl. I don’t want to be that guy. I want to guy that makes people cry, who makes people think, who inspires people. I want to be a dramatic actor. I just love it. I love acting.”
One criticism of The Rock’s acting career is that he doesn’t take chances. He makes explosion-heavy action movies with fairly anonymous directors where, as Bautista points out, he’s usually playing a version of his persona. I love The Rock, but I doubt anyone has told him “no” since he worked with Michael Bay on Pain and Gain (arguably his best performance). Bautista, meanwhile, has his Marvel franchise and zombie heist movie, but he was also quite good in the little-seen thriller Bushwick, and he worked with auteur Denis Villeneuve on Blade Runner 2049 and the upcoming Dune. It’s hard to imagine The Rock in a Villeneuve movie. Luckily we don’t have to. We have Bautista.