Why Dave Bautista left wrestling to become an actor
The world of entertainment wrestling never fails to draw large crowds, but it is also infamous for having horrible working conditions. Many professional wrestlers often die before the age of 65 due to suicides and drug overdoses which is why stars like Dwayne Johnson and Dave Bautista have made the switch to Hollywood.
While Dwayne Johnson has established himself as one of the most highly paid stars in the film industry, Dave Bautista has been more particular about his film roles. Over the course of his acting career, he has worked with some of the most talented filmmakers in the world – ranging from Werner Herzog to Denis Villeneuve.
During an interview, Bautista explained why he was disillusioned with the world of entertainment wrestling. He said: “It was just a very toxic atmosphere. Wrestling is very competitive. It’s very cutthroat. You’re put in a position where you have to posture up all the time, and it’s exhausting. It’s just exhausting.”
He is definitely not the only one to air these concerns since organisations like WWE are routinely criticised for their mismanagement and exploitation of their employees. Many wrestling stars get tricked into predatory contracts and are often denied basic workers’ rights, contributing to a terrible work environment.
Prominent cultural commentators such as John Oliver have also covered the horrendous practices prevalent in the industry. During his segment, Oliver famously cited the unbelievable contract of a wrestler where the company was absolved of all legal responsibilities, even if the wrestler was harmed or killed due to the company’s negligence.
Due to such journalistic investigations into their machinations, organisations like WWE have focused on the safety of their talent, but the system is inherently exploitative. According to Bautista, working in the film industry has been a much more rewarding experience because he has been able to demonstrate his talent.
While talking about his collaboration with Villeneuve on Dune, Bautista added: “I left a career in professional wrestling to take a chance on myself because I fell in love with acting. It took me forever to get a job. So when someone like Denis calls me and says, ‘I really want you to play this part,’ that validates the sacrifice and the chance I took on myself.”