2020 WWE Hall of Famer Batista recently spoke with Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated to promote his role on HBO's "Room 104" series, which aired on Sunday night. The "Avalanche" episode features The Animal playing the role of a retired pro wrestler, named Raw Dog Avalanche.
Batista revealed that he originally was not interested in the role because it was centered around the industry that made him famous.
"When my agent told me it was a professional wrestling themed episode, I said, 'Not a shot in hell,'" he said. "I've worked really hard to separate these two worlds."
Batista, who ended his pro wrestling career with the No Holds Barred loss to Triple H at WrestleMania 35 in 2019, said he left the sport to be an actor, not a movie star. He admitted that the transition has been tough.
"I didn't leave wrestling to become a movie star, I left to be an actor," Batista said. "I've worked really hard to prove myself and earn the respect of my peers and audiences. This has not been the path of least resistance, it's been a tough route.
"I've really pursued roles that are actor's pieces, and I've turned down a lot of roles that would have made me a lot of money, action roles that would have been better suited for me as an ex-wrestler. Those are the roles most people expected me to take, but I've chosen to go the unexpected route to prove myself as an actor. I feel like people expect less from a wrestler-turned-actor, but I've always wanted to be a serious actor."
The trailer for the current "Room 104" season with Batista's episode can be seen above. You can see more footage from the episode in the video below. The story focuses on a former pro wrestler who is dealing with brain damage and memory loss, coping later in life with childhood abuse and the violent monster it created. He revealed how his agent got him interested in the role.
"One of my agents, Ryan Abboushi, said to me, 'Just read the episode—it's exactly what you've been looking for, it's exactly what we've been talking about,'" Batista said. "I read the script and I was blown away. It wasn't what I thought it was. It was deep and rich and emotional."
It was noted that Batista captured a significant combination of confusion, hurt and shame during the two days of shooting. He said people have never seen him take on a role like this, and it's the role he's been seeking for a long time.
"People have never seen me portray a role like this," Batista said. "There are so many layers to the character, and the subject matter is so sensitive. I'm excited for people to see the episode, but there is a huge part of me that is nervous about it. This was the opportunity I was waiting for. I've been searching for a role like this for a long time."
The former WWE Champion also discussed how he's soft-spoken, unlike his pro wrestling presence, and said he's been terrified of being on the mic since early in his career.
"Since the beginning of my wrestling career, I was so terrified to be on the microphone, so I'd subconsciously channel a bit of Hulk Hogan and the Macho Man," said Batista. "Even when filming Room 104, and it isn't intentional, that's who I channel. That is my first childhood connection to professional wrestling.
"I remember I did this interview years ago where it came across like I was doing this impersonation of Hulk Hogan. It wasn't my intent but that's the way it came off, and I remember saying, 'This just isn't me. I'm just not that guy.' I later saw Hogan at a show and he asked if I was making fun of him. I said no, I didn't mean that at all. That's just my first connection to professional wrestling. They did promos a certain way, and it still impacts my work."