Dave Bautista explains why he turned down role in The Suicide Squad to do Army of the Dead
The actor previously told EW that he passed up the chance to reunite with his Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn to make Army of the Dead with Zack Snyder instead — after initially passing on that project as well. "I had this chip on my shoulder and was looking for juicy [dramatic roles]," Bautista explained. "Then I read the [Army of the Dead] script and it was a lot deeper and had more layers than I thought. And also, to be quite frank, I wanted to work with Zack."
In a recent interview with Digital Spy, the actor elaborated on his reasoning, noting that he had "been wanting to work with [Snyder] for years," and that certain other aspects of the role enticed him.
"I had The Suicide Squad where I got to work with my boy again, even though it's a smaller role, and then I had Army of the Dead on which I get to work with Zack, I get to build a relationship with Netflix, I get a lead role in a great film — and I get paid a lot more money," he added with a laugh.
Army of the Dead stars Bautista as the leader of a group of mercenaries who attempt a heist at a zombie-infested Las Vegas casino. Snyder described the project to EW as "a full-blown, balls-to-the-wall zombie heist movie," but also teased "a lot of warmth and real emotion with these great characters." ("We're running around killing zombies on craps tables," added Bautista. "It's just a ton of fun.")
Fortunately, it seems Gunn was understanding of the actor's choice. "I had to call James, and I told him, 'It breaks my heart, because as a friend, I want to be there with you, but professionally, this is the smart decision for me,'" Bautista told Digital Spy. "He said, 'I completely get it. I'm proud of you that you're even in this position. I'm proud that I had something to do with you being in this position where you have to make these hard decisions.'"
A former professional wrestler, Bautista made his breakthrough as an actor with his role as Drax the Destroyer in Guardians. He's since reprised the role in the second Guardians film along with Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, and is set to do so again in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. He did, however, briefly threaten to walk away from the project when Disney fired Gunn over past offensive tweets. The director has since been rehired.
In December, Bautista told EW that Guardians 3 would start production in late 2021, and that the script for the film had changed since he saw an earlier draft. "I believe because [Marvel's] whole calendar has changed [due to the pandemic shutdown and Guardians' production delays], that storylines have changed, and they won't intersect like originally planned," the actor said. "I haven't seen a new script, is the short answer." The film is currently scheduled for release on May 5, 2023.
Army of the Dead, meanwhile, will be released in more than 600 theaters on May 14 before hitting Netflix a week later.