On thin ice: tough guy’s spy games
DAVE Bautista is one of the toughest men on the big screen, up there with The Rock, Arnie and Sly.
But putting on a pair of ice skates for his new film My Spy turned out to be a bigger challenge than facing off against James Bond in Spectre or kicking some alien butt as Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy for the former pro wrestler and mixed martial artist.
"I have no desire to be on skates. I'm not good at it and I don't desire to be good at it, so luckily it played better that I was bad at it," he says. "It's so awful. Not only is the ice hard, you're also freezing so everything hurts twice as hard. It hurt my pride too. I pride myself on being athletic, so finding myself in a position where I feel unathletic - it kills me. In my career I could always rely on my athleticism.
"Everyone has their achilles heel. Ice skating is mine."
Falling on the ice wasn't Bautista's only worry on the set of the action comedy in which he plays a hardened CIA operative who finds himself at the mercy of a precocious nine-year-old girl, having been sent undercover to surveil her family.
His young co-star, Chloe Coleman, also kept a swear jar on set to keep the cast and crew in check.
"We deserved it," Bautista says. "We had the conversation about how we were going to be around children and we had to keep it as PG-rated as possible with the language, but sometimes you get around a bunch of other adults and, especially after a long day, you're speaking passionately about something and choice words start to fly. There was Chloe with her swear jar. I don't think I was even close to being the worst offender; that was Pete Segal (the director).
"None of us knew she was going to do this, but she took the money and donated it."
The 50-year-old grandfather says the old adage of never working with children or animals wasn't true in this case.
"I'd heard early on in my acting career that the two don'ts are very challenging, but I didn't find that at all," he says.
"I knew Chloe was talented, but I didn't expect her to be so prepared and so professional, because I'm not. I'm not unprofessional, but I'm not as prepared as she is.
"It was weird to watch her bounce around from being a consummate professional to being a child. She turned 10 while we were working on the film and I can't imagine I'd be able to communicate on an adult level as a child. I would have had a meltdown."
Despite providing much of the comic relief as Drax in Marvel's Cinematic Universe, and sharpening his skills opposite Kumail Nanjiani in Stuber, Bautista doesn't consider himself a comedic actor.
"I seem to do OK at it," he says. "I understand the timing somewhat, but I don't think it's my calling. I struggle to find myself very good at it. I don't find myself funny. I usually play the straight man, which probably helps a lot. I definitely enjoy the finished product, but I don't consider myself a comedic actor. It's all about who I work with."
He's full of praise for his My Spy co-star Kristen Schaal, who plays tech specialist and aspiring field agent Bobbi.
"She is by far the funniest person without trying to be funny I've ever met in my life," he says. "She's so witty, and her facial expressions alone are just comedic genius. She is naturally gifted at being funny. I would like my first rom-com to be with Kristen. I love working with her and us on screen in a rom-com would be unexpected."
My Spy opens in cinemas on Thursday.