Dave Bautista in Army of the Dead

To date, Dave Bautista has been lucky enough to work with some incredibly talented filmmakers. Sure, most audiences known him best as Drax, a member of James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy. But the one-time professional wrestler also has logged time with Denis Villenueve on Blade Runner 2049, as a member of James Bond's family for Spectre, and with writer-director Drew Pearce for the stylish Hotel Artemis. He’s singling out filmmakers he wants to collaborate with, and that’s what brought him to Zack Snyder and Army of the Dead.

Back in 2019, CinemaBlend sat down with Dave Bautista on the Atlantic City set of Zack Snyder’s zombie casino heist thriller Army of the Dead, and had a deep conversation about the professional choice Bautista had been making to date. When we got to the idea of making a zombie movie with the man who’d started his career with Dawn of the Dead, Bautista made it clear that it wasn’t the undead that attracted him. It was the very live Zack Snyder.

Bautista said he and Snyder had been circling a different project for almost three years before the Army of the Dead script landed on his doorstep. Snyder wanted Bautista to play Scott Ward, a father and one-time taco-truck entrepreneur who has a skillset that makes him valuable during a zombie apocalypse. When asked why he wanted to join Army of the Dead, Bautista made it very clear:

That was why I signed on, was to work with Zack. … I’ve wanted to work with him for years and it's really just so I can steal all his shit. I want to steal his stuff. I want to watch him work, because he's great. Like visually, he's a visual master and I wanted to get in and learn from him and steal his stuff, so I could go on and direct my films and take credit for his work. (Laughs) I'll steal all his stuff, and my films will look like his films.

When we pushed Dave Bautista to elaborate on some of the things that he’d had so far learned by studying Zack Snyder during the Army of the Dead production, he told us:

Just kind of camera tricks. And I also liked that he's very much … and I only know this because I was watching this documentary about Spielberg, who was one of those guys who visually was looking around, and he’d see something and run and grab the camera. He goes, ‘Let's shoot it. Let's shoot.’ And Zack is very much that way. Because we're shooting all of this with a lot of natural light. Mostly natural lighting. So they've only stuck like a couple of light tubes in here and there, very sparingly. But most of it's all natural light. And so a lot of times, he's just catching things on the fly, which is weird.

That run-and-gun approach to filmmaking is a change for Zack Snyder, who is working as his own camera operator and director of photography on Army of the Dead. And that day on the set in Atlantic City, it meant that we often saw Snyder flying around the set with a camera on his shoulder, angling for the right shot as Dave Bautista and his co-stars worked through a casino floor that was flooded with extras made up to look like zombies.

The new trailer gives you a taste of Army of the Dead:

This new zombie movie from Justice League director Zack Snyder is coming to select theaters on May 14, and then drops on Netflix on May 21. Look for more coverage from our set visit right here on CinemaBlend.

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