Dave Bautista has said he was initially reluctant to take his leading role in the new Netflix blockbuster Army Of The Dead because he thought it was “just an action film”.
The Guardians Of The Galaxy star said he was more interested in looking for a project that would allow himself to test his acting chops.
Bautista, 52, plays Scott in the film, directed by Zack Snyder, part of a group of mercenaries who attempt a heist from a vault underneath the famous strip in Las Vegas.
The mission is made more complicated by the fact there has been a zombie outbreak in the city and the heist takes them right into the quarantine zone.
He said: “When this first came to my attention, I wasn’t all that interested, because it was described to me as a zombie-heist film; I thought it was just an action film.
“It wasn’t what I was looking for.
“I was really set out to prove myself as an actor.
“Then it came back around to me.
“When I found out that Zack was interested in me playing Scott, I read the script and it was completely different from what I thought it was going to be, and afforded me the opportunity to really show off different sides.”
Bautista, who became famous in WWE and is also a former mixed martial artist and bodybuilder, said his background gave him the edge in tackling the physical side of the role.
He said: “I am an athlete first.
“That’s where I found my calling and why I was successful in professional wrestling.
“So, it [Army Of The Dead] wasn’t a complete struggle physically, and anything that would become a struggle… I am not embarrassed to admit, if it’s something that’s way over my head, I just call for my stunt double, and he’s perfectly capable of taking care of it.
“My struggle was always performance; that’s still my challenge.”
Army Of The Dead marks Snyder’s return to the zombie genre after his directorial debut with 2004’s Dawn Of The Dead and the filmmaker said the idea originated from his time working on the remake of the 1978 George Romero classic.
He said: “I went on this deep dive into genre tropes and, ‘What is a self-aware film?’
“When I finished the movie, for a couple years after that, I kept thinking about that conversation, and sort of developed this idea about a zombie plague, where the zombies come from Area 51, and they end up in, and building a wall around, Las Vegas.
“It was really born out of a lot of movies like Escape From New York, the original Planet Of The Apes and Aliens and Die Hard, a lot of these really intense genre films that I grew up on.
“And I was fascinated by the rules of those movies and what an audience will accept as a trope or a preconceived idea… When you make a zombie film, how far will the audience go with us into these worlds?”
Army Of The Dead is out now on Netflix.