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Dave Bautista does not want to be a movie star

edit:casino time:2019-03-07

It’s the night after Christmas, cold and raining, when Dave Bautista emerges from his office and private gym on a boring but busy stretch of Manhattan Avenue in South Tampa. He’s wearing a leather jacket, motorcycle boots and sunglasses with ruby lenses, even though it’s almost 9 p.m. The converted suite of offices behind him, on the other hand, could be mistaken for a suburban dental clinic. Only when Bautista invites you inside does it reveal itself — a tasteful man cave, exposed brick and wood beams, stuffed with beefy, antique furniture that looks borrowed from a Game of Thrones set and enough fitness equipment to put your local YMCA to shame.

He calls the building the Lion’s Den. It has a haunting portrait of the late Cecil the Lion on a field of smiling skulls, which Bautista calls the place’s spiritual centerpiece. Alternately, he calls the place “alpha house,” because, “you know, muscle head stuff.” Indeed, at that moment, Jake Hager, better known as former WWE champ Jack Swagger, is pumping iron in the next room in preparation for a mixed martial arts fight. A trainer nearby is holding some type of gun that pummels muscles into recovery.

Bautista stands 6-foot-4 and 265-ish pounds with a stony gaze. His voice is low, but not soft. He doles it out sparingly, like he doesn’t want to scare you. He has the kind of presence that turns heads when he shops for milk at Publix or goes alone to the CineBistro to watch the re-release of Schindler’s List.

But most people don’t recognize him. He’s smaller and scruffier than he was as a pro wrestling champ, and unlike Drax, his beloved and internationally famous character from Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, his skin is not blue-gray.

He’s coming off his biggest year yet, though, in terms of film credits, including a well-regarded role as a bruiser of a hospital orderly alongside Jodie Foster in Hotel Artemis. He’s got the upcoming Uber action comedy Stuber alongside Kumail Nanjiani, and later in the year, My Spy, in which he plays a hardened CIA operative who “finds himself at the mercy of a 9-year-old girl.” Not to mention his just-announced role as Beast Rabban in Denis Villeneuve’s sure-to-be-epic Dune remake. Avengers: Endgame comes out in April, and he says there’s a Zack Snyder project on the horizon.

He’s also returning to wrestling. On Monday, Bautista showed up under his old wrestling name, Batista, on the WWE broadcast Raw to attack Ric Flair during his 70th birthday celebration. It was a tease to a possible match with Triple H at Wrestlemania that could allow him to close out his wrestling career “the right way.”

Dave Bautista, left, with Jodie Foster in

Dave Bautista, left, with Jodie Foster in

Dave Bautista, left, with Jodie Foster in "Hotel Artemis." [Photo by Matt Kennedy/Global Road Entertainment via AP]

Bautista is eager, even impatient, for what comes next. He recently turned 50, and he knows he came late to the Hollywood party.

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