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Dave Bautista is proud of Bushwick, which he calls a “labor of love,” but admits since filming the picture that revolves around Texas seceding from the union, the movie has become unnerving due to the changing political climate and divisiveness among Americans.
In the film, Bautista’s character, Armed Services veteran Stupe, attempts to flee his overtaken Brooklyn neighborhood, Bushwick, with help from 20-year-old Lucy (Brittany Snow), after martial law is declared following Texas’ secession.
In a Tuesday interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Bautista said when the picture was being filmed in 2015, the premise was intriguing, but he did not take it seriously. That has since changed.
“It is kind of scary, because this was made well before our political change and the way things have turned out, and here we have this film that focuses on the modern day Civil War,” Bautista told THR. “It is kind of terrifying. When we were filming it, I never would have thought. And now, the ways things are going and the way the country has become so separated, it’s like, man, is this really that farfetched?”
Bautista was referring to the growing divisiveness among Americans, largely due to the Trump presidency, which was further exacerbated after a 32-year-old woman was killed and 19 others were injured while they protested a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12.
Bushwick may have been made before the heated political turmoil, but it is now joined by other alt-history dramas, Black America, which is in-development by Amazon and HBO’s upcoming slavery drama Confederate.
The Guardians of the Galaxy star said he took on Bushwick — directed by duo Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott and written by duo Nick Damici and Graham Reznick — because he knew it would help him grow in his craft, which he stressed to THR was vital.
“I wanted to prove to people that I really want to be an actor,” Bautista said. “I have a huge chip on my shoulder. And I think I have proved it to some people, but still, I really want to prove that I set out to be an actor, not a movie star. I didn’t leave [WWE] wrestling thinking I’m going to go be a big movie star. I really just wanted to be an actor.”
The way in which the film was shot, with long continuous takes, was the exact exercise Bautista sought to better himself, he explained.
“There is really no room for editing, no room for error,” he said. “I wanted to not have a luxury of editing. The takes are up to 10-minutes long. If you bust a take, everyone has to go back to square one. And this was a small-budget film, so everyone had to be on their A-game.”
Still, Bautista was candid when he said he is not pleased with his performance in the film.
“I am always my own worst critic,” he began. “I never felt like I got through a take where I was like ‘Yes! That was it!’ And that’s the challenge. You go. You shoot it. And you only have so many chances, so if you don’t nail it, you don’t nail it. Too bad. We have to move on. I am not extremely proud of my performance. I feel like I get better with every project. I am a learning-on-the-job actor. And now, looking back at Bushwick, because we filmed it in 2015, I feel like if I could do it again, I would do this different and that different. But, at the same time, I poured my heart out into the film. It really was a labor of love for everyone involved. Not a whole lot of money went into this film. It is just what we put into it. Having said that, I am extremely proud of that we did.”
In particular, Bautista said he was blown away by co-star Snow.
“I am really proud of Brittany!” he said of the Pitch Perfect star. “She went all in on this project. It was a different character for her, and she didn’t hold back at all. Physically, it was way more tough on her. She got beat up on this. She earned some strips on this film.”
Bautista, on the other hand, who is best pals with his stuntman, Rob de Groot, said this was one of the least physical films the actor has done, and there is a reason for that — he changed the script.
“There is one fight scene in the film,” he said. “And originally they had this other huge fight scene, and I said, ‘Nooooooo. This is what it is going to be.’ And only because I thought it seemed more realistic, rather than this long, drawn-out, kung fu-like fight. It just didn’t fit the tone of the film.”
Bushwick opens Aug. 25.
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