Batista On His New HBO Role & The Value Of Having Stroke In Wrestling

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Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SXSW

Batista is one of the few pro wrestlers to make the jump from turnbuckle to Tinseltown and aside from perhaps The Rock, The Animal has arguably been the most successful grappler to lay the smackdown on Hollywood.

Bautista spoke with Jason Tabyrs of Uproxx about his upcoming appearance in HBO’s Room 104 series. Big Dave will be playing a one-off role, but it something that he was very interested in taking on despite it being closely related to the squared circle, something he was concerned about being pigeon-holed in as an actor.

“When it was first brought to my attention, they did tell me about the nature of the professional wrestling aspect of it and I immediately shot it down. I was really not interested. I’ve really worked hard to remove myself from that and people seeing me as a professional wrestler. And one of my agents said, ‘You just got to read this, man, please read this. It’s exactly what you’ve been looking for.’ And so I did, I read it and I said, ‘Wow.’ I was kind of blown away. It’s just so deep and then I knew it would be a real stretch for me as a performer and also allow people to see me in a different light.”

Being able to show his vunerable side as an actor has always been very important to Bautista and it’s something that he actively seeks out when searching for roles. It’s more about the background and less about the blockbuster.

“It’s not easy when you come from a professional wrestling background and you are built like a gorilla. Those types of roles are just very few and far between. So yeah, it’s always been my goal to prove myself as an actor. That means more to me than being a movie star.”

“They will pay attention if I’m a valuable commodity. So I think I’ve always had that mindset, make my way, earn the respect of my peers, become a big name, become a star and you can get films made. And at the end of the day, that’s what I want to do because throughout professional wrestling, throughout films, I’m a storyteller. I love telling stories. And that’s what I will do for the rest of my life. In one capacity or another.”

Bautista did talk about his time in the ring, specifically about the value in having creative freedom and leverage to be able to do what you want.

“It was kind of a learning process for me. I didn’t know how much value I had. I didn’t know how much stroke I had until I started drawing money. Because to me, when it comes to professional wrestling, it was the same. I didn’t understand storylines, I didn’t understand programs. I didn’t understand all those things. But I learned along the way. And as I learned along the way, I also learned how much influence I had on my storylines or how much people were willing to listen, because sometimes they’re not, sometimes they’re not willing to listen, but they are more likely to listen when you’re making millions of dollars for a company.

“So, throughout the rest of my wrestling career, I had a lot of input. There was one time I went back for a few months after I had left to do films. I went back with a certain understanding that I would have influence on my storylines. It was all stripped away from me and I lost control and it ended up being a disaster. And I said that I would never come back until I could control my narrative and what I was doing in professional wrestling. And they let me do that, which is why I went back last year and I retired. I closed up my career, but they let me do it my way. And I think it was great.”

There’s one person Bautista really credits Triple H for instilling in him the intricacies of the wrestling business.

“He absolutely taught me the business. I mean the higher end of the business, the storytelling aspect of the business, he absolutely taught me that. And I left professional wrestling with not only that knowledge but also the work ethic that I learned within the WWE because it is a grind. You earn every dollar that you make there. So I left with not only that knowledge but that grind.”

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