Dave Bautista is the latest in a long line of wrestling greats to transition into the world of cinema, including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, John Cena and Hulk Hogan. The actor has a particular following amongst sci-fi fans thanks to his roles in Guardians of the Galaxy and Blade Runner 2049, and that can only intensity when people get a load of him in Dune.
Teaming once again with Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Villeneuve, Bautista will join an ensemble cast for the latest attempt to adapt Frank Herbert’s notoriously “unfilmable” novel Dune, potentially leading to an all-new franchise. Bautista will play Glossu Rabban in the new adaptation, the sadistic nephew of main antagonist Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård). Other cast members include Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Zendaya, Javier Bardem and Jason Momoa.
Speaking with Collider, Bautista says he was “blown away” by the script but was hesitant to ask Villeneuve for a part. “I wanted to be a part of it so bad. I never reached out because I don’t want to be that guy, like ‘Hey, Denis, is there a part for me?’ I never wanted to be that guy.”
Luckily for the Marvel star, Villeneuve already had him in mind for the project. The experience left Bautista humbled. “Moments like that really gauge how far I’ve come as an actor. There’s a lot of pride in it for me that a director like Denis would call like that and offer me a role in a film that I know is going to be enormous.”
Many actors can go an entire career without appearing in a landmark film or TV series, and Bautista is clearly counting his blessings. In a reflective mood, the actor says that the film represents one of “the few moments in life where I get that, where I feel like my life is worth something, I did something with my life. My life means something.”
The troubled history of Dune onscreen
Dune was initially identified for adaptation as early as 1965, shortly after the novel’s original publication. The rights have passed through several hands since, with multiple attempts to bring the story to the screen failing due to the plot’s vast scope and complex nature.
In 1984, David Lynch finally brought the book to cinemas in an adaptation starring Kyle MacLachlan, Max von Sydow, Patrick Stewart, Sting, and many others. The film was poorly received, with Roger Ebert giving it just one star out of four, and it barely made its money back at the box office.
The Sci-Fi Channel aired a three-part miniseries adaptation in 2000 that was better received, but still left some things to be desired. Bautista knows that “people are so passionate about the novels” and says that Villeneuve’s vision for Dune is “enormous” with the sheer scale of the universe being “far over [his] head.” The actor adds that he “read [the script] and thought it was beautiful, I was emotionally invested in the script and the characters, but I don’t think my imagination stretches that far to create these worlds.”
Dune is expected to cover only the first part of Frank Herbert’s original novel, with a second film to complete it. While a sequel hasn’t officially been greenlit, the director told Collider last year that “I would not agree to make this adaptation of the book with one single movie. The world is too complex. It’s a world that takes its power in details.”
With the cast and crew hyping the new film to the max, fan expectations are high for the $165 million production, and many hope that one of the greatest works in science fiction will finally be done justice when Dune releases October 1 in IMAX, 3D and on (maybe) HBO Max.