Dave Bautista Wants to Be in a Romantic Comedy. So Why Isn’t He?

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Reuters
Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Reuters

Dave Bautista would like to star in a romantic comedy, and according to a recent interview with Page Six, he’s not sure why he hasn’t been cast in one already. “I ask myself, ‘Am I that unattractive?’” the Knock at the Cabin actor said. “‘Is there something that unappealing about me that excludes me from these parts?’”

It’s astounding and upsetting. How do we live in a world where Dave Bautista has been gaslit into wondering if he’s too ugly for a rom-com? (I mean, have you seen the arch on those eyebrows?) And yet, there Bautista was on Wednesday, elaborating on his comments during The Late Late Show with James Corden—where he said he’s been trying to get into a rom-com to no avail. “I’ve been trying to get in one for years,” he said, “and I always ask myself, 'What is it about me that no one can see me in this space?'"

Bautista, formerly a WWE wrestler whom GQ recently declared a “bona fide movie star,” has often been pigeonholed as an actor—forced into macho roles that can’t quite contain his range. He’s done the Schwarzenegger “Kindergarten Cop” thing with My Spy, and he’s played the heavyweight hitman in Spectre. He brought earnestness to his Marvel character, the dunderheaded Drax, but the role didn’t exactly offer much room for growth. “It was hard playing that role,” Bautista told GQ. “The makeup process was beating me down. And I just don’t know if I want Drax to be my legacy—it’s a silly performance, and I want to do more dramatic stuff.”

What Bautista seems to be craving is something a little more human—something that’ll give him the space to show some real tenderness. And why not! Twitter’s response, for the record, was resounding: Put Dave Bautista in a rom-com immediately.

The thing is, Dave Bautista would probably do great in a rom-com. Any rom-com—or at least, any rom-com scenario. The fulcrum of any good romantic comedy is the chemistry between two leads, and Bautista can banter with the best of them. As seen in Glass Onion, he also knows how to maintain dramatic tension—perhaps a transferable skill that can also apply to romantic tension?

Like all genres, however, romantic comedies can often contain certain tropes and “types,” and Bautista—a half-Greek, half-Filipino beefcake—doesn’t quite fit the usual slender, Anglo Saxon mold. White, toned but slender men unsurprisingly dominate all corners of the rom-com space and seem to have the easiest time finding variety within it. Just look at Hugh Grant, who’s played the Work Enemies to Lovers Guy (Two Weeks Notice); the ‘Nice Guy’ (Notting Hill) and, at least twice, the Possibly Reformed Player (Bridget Jones’ Diary, Four Weddings and a Funeral).

<div class="inline-image__credit">Courtesy of Everett</div>
Courtesy of Everett

Things haven’t changed much since Grant’s heyday in the 90s, either. Just look at a quick sampling of some of our more recent leads: Noah Centineo (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before), Jacob Elordi (The Kissing Booth), John Duhamel (Shotgun Wedding), and Owen Wilson (Marry Me).

There are always exceptions to the rule, like serial rom-com star Taye Diggs in his How Stella Got Her Groove Back days or, more recently, Randall Park in Always Be My Maybe; William Jackson Harper in We Broke Up; and Henry Golding in Crazy Rich Asians. Still, for the most part, rom-com leading men remain pretty homogenous—in spite of fan outcry in favor of such delicious ideas as Oscar Isaac, Pedro Pascal, Idris Elba, Daniel Kaluuya, Donald Glover, Steven Yeun, and many more.

To be clear, however, the boundaries that define who can play what “type” and who cannot are completely made up and deserve nothing but disrespect at all times. Do we really believe that Dave Bautista couldn’t play, for instance, an Enemies to Lovers Guy? As seen in films like The Proposal and You’ve Got Mail, rom-coms with that dynamic also often center around work. Perhaps Bautista and his Guardians of the Galaxy co-star Zoe Saldaña could play rival cryptocurrency investors? Or maybe he and Charlize Theron are spies who are trying to kill one another in a sexy way? Just some ideas!

<div class="inline-image__credit">Courtesy of Netflix</div>
Courtesy of Netflix

Bautista also faces the hurdle of his past career. While former wrestlers like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Andre the Giant have paved the way, wrestlers often remain typecast in physical, combat heavy roles.

But could we really not envision Dave Bautista playing, like, a jacked civil engineer who can’t help but fall in love with the spirited community organizer who’s been blocking his project for months, as played by Natasha Rothwell? Could he really not be the extremely empathetic “I’m Afraid He’s Out of My League” Guy, à la John Corbett in My Big Fat Greek Wedding or Noah Centineo in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before?

The only rom-com leading man “type” that Bautista could not satisfy, the only category I believe to be beyond his capacity for transformation, is the “Adam Sandler” category, because only Adam Sandler can do what he does. Everything else? Give Bautista a chance, and I bet he could do it with the right leading woman.

Why Did the Studio Rom-Com Crash and Burn This Year?

A common failure of modern romantic comedies is a failure to cast for genuine, sizzling chemistry. The Dave Bautista Rom-Com would not make this mistake. Whoever stars opposite Bautista must be formidable—either through their strength or the intensity of their presence. And comedic chops will be crucial. (Rose Byrne, would you be interested? Stephanie Beatriz?)

The bottom line, however, is that if Dave Bautista wants to star in a romantic comedy, then someone should put Dave Bautista in a romantic comedy. He has the comedic timing, the good looks, and the swagger to pull it off. All he needs now is the right vehicle.

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