Dave Bautista in Army Of The Dead: No one expects me to be emotional
Against backdrop of violence in Zack Snyder's new zombie heist, actor shows he can handle the soft stuff too
Dave Bautista often plays the heavy of few words.
Whether as henchman Mr Hinx in Spectre or delivering deadpan lines as Drax in Guardians Of The Galaxy, the word count is generally low with the former WWE star.
Yet, during our recent Zoom interview from Los Angeles, the US actor waxed lyrical about his new role in director Zack Snyder's upcoming zombie heist action thriller Army Of The Dead, which premieres on Netflix on May 21.
The film sees Bautista as Scott Ward, a former cook-turned-mercenary tasked to enter a zombie-infested Las Vegas to grab a huge haul of untraceable cash – all before the place is nuked.
"I have watched it numerous times," he said.
"The first time is to review my performance, that rabbit hole where I am thinking about choices I regret.
"But then I watch it as more of a fan."
For the 52-year-old, there is a lot riding on Army Of The Dead.
"I hope it opens doors for people to see me as a well-rounded actor."
In the film, Ward is also trying to reconcile with his estranged daughter (Ella Purnell) - an aspect that made Bautista pursue the role all the more.
"The action stuff for me is easy. You'd expect me to do that. It is predictable. But you wouldn't expect me to be an emotional guy."
Snyder has no doubt in his leading man's abilities. In fact, the US director told The New Paper in a separate interview that the main quality that attracted him to choose Bautista is his "incredible vulnerability".
"You get that he can be formidable if push came to shove. What I saw in Dave was this sadness and vulnerability that didn't sacrifice his believeability as the leader of a bunch of zombie killers."
Ward, while vocally reticent, is as fearless as you would expect. And Bautista has gained himself a reputation for fearlessness in real life too.
He was the first to stand up for Guardians director James Gunn when old tweets caused the latter to be sacked by Marvel (later to be reinstated), and he regularly picked fights with Trump supporters on Twitter in the lead-up to last year's US election.
Not that he saw it as a case of great fame coming with great responsibility.
"It is weird. I have never seen it like that. I was never a very political person.
"The thing with James was very personal. My friend was being wrongfully attacked, and I wasn't okay with it.
"I mean, what kind of friend are you if you don't defend your friends?"
Bautista's political fire came from him seeing the US become increasingly polarised.
"It became an obligation. A matter of integrity. If I stepped aside and said nothing, then all that is out there is a one-sided, very aggressive opinion. Which is why people shy away."
While some arguments probably would not be made face to face with Bautista - even via Zoom his physique is imposing - social media offers bravery to all.
"I can't tell you how many threats and false accusations I got.
"It wasn't like I was looking for a fight, it is just that in order to live with myself, I need to voice my opinion, and if I put myself out there, maybe people who usually would not speak out, or aren't as brave, would. Because they know they aren't alone."