"I wanted to pursue acting because I found out how bad I was at it," Batista confessed. "I was horrible. I was with WWE at the time and I went and did a film. All I wanted to do was wrestle. I loved wrestling. I was obsessed with wrestling. I went in to do a film as a favor for a friend and I realized I was horrible. I was a horrendous actor. I was mortified and I wanted to prove that I could be better.
"[WWE] wouldn't let me do anything outside the company. I was stuck within the company wrestling and I wanted to pursue acting. They said, 'Sorry we need you here. We need you on the shows'. And I said, 'Well if you're not going to let me pursue something I'm really passionate about, then I'm going to leave.'
"So about eight months later I walked out the door and they didn't think I was going to," Batista said. "I walked out on top. I was very comfortable. I was making a very good living and I walked out. Then I starved for three years. I went broke and lost everything. I couldn't get a job. I said, 'I will never go back to wrestling until I prove what I set out to prove that I could make it as an actor.'"
Despite his peaks and valleys after WWE, he admitted that wrestling was again on his horizon after he'd completed acting.
Batista recalled the Guardians of the Galaxy interview process for his role of Drax.
"It was a nightmare," Batista remembers. "I'd gone broke and lost all my money from wrestling. I got an agent and my agent said, 'I had to fight really hard to get you this audition. They didn't want any pro wrestlers.' I found one picture of Drax and I said, 'That looks like me. I get this picture. I relate to this picture'. I went and read for Sarah Finn and did my audition. She said, 'Is there any way you could come tomorrow and read for the director?' That's when I knew it was real."
Bastia got emotional as he credited Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn for positively shifting the trajectory of his life through acting.
"I read for James Gunn and I could tell right away that he really wanted me to be Drax," Batista said. "James and I connected really fast. Where I was at in my life—when I say that James Gunn changed the direction of my life, not just my career, this is why I am so loyal to him. You're going to get me emotional—I connected with him right off the bat."
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Denver Pop Culture Con with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.