Guardians of the Galaxy and Dune star Dave Bautista has opened up about his mission to take on more demanding roles, saying "it's been extremely challenging" breaking the action-star box in which Hollywood has placed him.
"It's something I still struggle against, but I'm not angry and I'm not resentful," the former WWE star tells EW in an interview for his new film, M. Night Shyamalan's Knock at the Cabin. "I understand why people wouldn't want me for certain roles because my size is distracting. I know that about myself. So this is why when something comes along, like Leonard [in] Knock at the Cabin, it just means that much more to me."
It also made playing Leonard, one of four strangers who invade the home of a gay couple on a mission of Biblical proportions, a high-stakes test.
Universal Pictures Dave Bautista's Leonard in 'Knock at the Cabin'
"I've been saying that I wanted roles like this. I wanted meaty roles so I could prove my worth as an actor," Bautista explains. "I really do feel like this was that put up or shut up moment, where I could prove those statements to be true. But also I knew, 'Here's my opportunity, dude. You're about to get judged.' So it was intimidating. It was scary."
Ben Aldridge and Jonathan Groff star in Knock at the Cabin as Andrew and Eric, who are on vacation with their daughter, Wen (Kristen Cui), in a remote cabin in the woods. Leonard, a spectacled, seemingly docile elementary school teacher, leads three others in a home invasion. They are convinced that the family must willingly select one of their own to sacrifice or all of humanity will be destroyed in a Biblical apocalypse.
Bautista acknowledges that his past work in the action space led him to Knock at the Cabin. "Night considered me for Leonard because he saw me in Blade Runner. So all these little pieces opened doors for me," he says. "I've based my life on opportunity. My success is based on opportunity. Everybody's success should be based on opportunity."
Universal Pictures Ben Aldridge, Jonathan Groff, and Kristen Cui star as a terrorized family in 'Knock at the Cabin.'
Like Shyamalan, Bautista hopes other filmmakers and producers will "look outside the box and find a way to work around my physicality."
"I don't want to be excluded from those roles just because I look a certain way," he adds. "But then again, this is Hollywood. That's what it is."
Knock at the Cabin opens in theaters Friday.