From pro wrestling champion to box office star, Dave Bautista has noticeably grown as an actor role by role. Though he’s mainly played supporting roles in big budget movies, Bautista has appeared in lead roles in smaller projects like Bushwick. In Bushwick, Bautista plays Stupe, a grizzled military vet who faces a Brooklyn neighborhood at war over politics. In an interview with Crave, Bautista spoke about why he took the role even though he didn’t initially like the script and what he brought to the character.
Interestingly, Bautista became an executive producer on the project because he initially didn’t like the script. He explains, “I didn’t like the character and I thought nobody would want to root for this guy because he’s a fucking asshole. [Laughs.] So I wanted to revamp Stupe and actually make him likable and be able to tell a story that people could actually empathize with.”
Though many of Bautista’s roles haven’t required him to say much — particularly his nearly-mute performance in Spectre — Stupe has a lengthy speech at the end of Bushwick. Bautista reveals that was also a result from him getting involved creatively with the movie. He says:
I was completely responsible for developing that backstory, and that particular scene was my one opportunity to tell the story of Stupe. So I did, I took advantage of that, I told his backstory. I wanted to tell something that would make people think, and kind of be able to relate to, and I think anybody in a marriage could relate to that.
Originally in the script, Stupe was on his way back from overseas, he was in the military, and as he was on his way home his family was killed in a car accident, and I didn’t think that was very interesting at all. So I actually proposed that to the directors one day. I talked to the directors and Brittany [Snow], and I said, “Well, what if this was Stupe’s backstory?” And [I] gave them kind of a general outline of the story, and then I said “Well, if you trust me to tell my story when I have the opportunity, then I’ll just do it.”
And that’s actually what I did. I had a story in my head and I just told it as a story rather than a written-out monologue.
Challenges like that are what Bautista looks for in roles now — to make sure he’s growing as an actor. Still, he’s well aware that he makes mistakes — but he knows it’s not just about him. He says, “It’s a lot of pressure but that’s actually what was so appealing to me. I wanted that challenge, as an actor, and I believe it made me a stronger actor, but it is one of those things where you give a performance and if you’re not happy with it, and it’s time to move on, you just try to suck it up and that’s it. That was your opportunity. You did the best you could. Because even though I may not have had the greatest take, Brittany might have have had a stellar take that everybody’s super happy with. So I can’t go back and say ‘Well, let’s do it again because I’m not happy with my take.’ It is what it is and it’s time to move on. The camera was in the right place. There’s nobody walking through our shot. There was no cars driving through our shot. [Laughs.] We got what we needed, it’s time to move on, and that was kind of the risk.”