WARNING: Spoilers for “Knock at the Cabin,” currently in theaters.
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Dave Bautista is enjoying a stellar year in his career, marked by standout performances as Duke Cody in “Glass Onion,” concluding his role as the comically strong Drax the Destroyer in Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” and reprising his Glossu Rabban character in the highly anticipated sci-fi epic “Dune: Part 2” later this year. Presently, he takes on a different persona in M. Night Shyamalan’s newest thriller, “Knock at the Cabin.”
In “Knock at the Cabin,” Bautista breaks away from his typical roles, portraying Leonard, a mild-mannered second-grade teacher who wears glasses and seems on the brink of bursting out of his button-up shirt. Leonard, burdened with visions of an impending apocalypse, joins forces with three strangers to deliver a chilling ultimatum during a family’s cabin vacation: in order to avert the apocalypse, the family must choose to sacrifice one of their own.
During the film’s premiere, Shyamalan disclosed that Bautista’s brief appearance in “Blade Runner 2049” caught his attention when casting for “Knock at the Cabin.” Playing the formidable replicant Sapper Morton, Bautista engages in a confrontation with Ryan Gosling’s blade runner before meeting his demise in the film’s opening scene.
Shyamalan praised Bautista’s performance, stating, “It’s not that verbal of a scene, but it was really how he carried himself. When an actor is genuinely contemplating the correct thoughts, their body radiates all the truth. He was doing that, and it’s a very, very tricky and difficult thing to do.”
Regrettably, Bautista’s character in “Knock at the Cabin,” Leonard, faces a similarly grim fate. One by one, the four intruders take their own lives after experiencing visions of the world’s end. Leonard, portrayed by Bautista, is the last to go, calmly seated in a chair as he slashes his throat while the world outside erupts in lightning and flames. Recounting the day on set when he filmed his death scene, Bautista mentioned that the weather was “so beautiful out” that he didn’t want to die.
“We’re sitting out, and the weather was nice, and I’m not in a somber mood,” he said. “I don’t feel like dying today, but this is my opportunity to die. Because it was so sunny and we were waiting for just a slight bit of overcast, we waited for a long time. There was one day when we waited and waited and it never came, so we had to come back to the scene. But by the time we came back, I just didn’t feel like dying that day.”
Even though his role in “Guardians of the Galaxy” is his most well-known, Bautista has made it clear that he aims to discover dynamic roles like “Knock at the Cabin” to garner recognition from his industry peers.
“I always seek out interesting roles, but I take them as they come,” he said. “I take some pride in what I do because I’m always searching for roles that will challenge me as an actor. I’ve got my year slated and I know what it’s going to look like, but I’m just looking for that next role that’s going to give me the same type of fulfillment as this. This fulfilled a lot of my wishes and dreams and what I’ve been asking for the last 10 years. I’m hoping this will win me a little bit of a respect factor amongst my peers because at the end of the day, it’s kind of what I’m after. I really want to be respected by my peers.”
But the one role that Bautista really has his eye on is Marcus Fenix, the lead character in Netflix’s “Gears of War” video game adaptation. After Netflix announced its upcoming film based on the brutally violent video games, Bautista posted a video of himself wearing the same “Gears of War” armor as Marcus, with whom he shares a striking resemblance.
Unfortunately, Netflix hasn’t contacted him about the movie yet.
“I really hope they will,” he said. “It’s a part that I’ve sought after for years, and I feel like I could bring a lot of heart to Marcus Fenix. I really would. I think I would do that part justice. I feel confident in it, so hopefully, it’ll come my way, and we’ll be having this conversation in a different way sometime.”