‘Knock at the Cabin’ Star Dave Bautista on Hopes for His Legacy: “Whatever You Asked Him to Do He Could Do”

The actor appears alongside Jonathan Groff and Ben Aldridge in M. Night Shyamalan's latest movie, which is just the second R-rated film ever for the filmmaker, who joked, "I worked hard for that."

Dave Bautista is having a big year, with appearances over the past 12 months in several Marvel projects as well as a major role in Glass Onion. And now he stars in M. Night Shyamalan’s Knock at the Cabin.

Bautista, who said he never considered the upcoming film “a horror movie, it felt more like an emotional rollercoaster to me,” made waves recently when he told GQ of his longtime role as Drax the Destroyer in the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, “I just don’t know if I want Drax to be my legacy — it’s a silly performance and I want to do more dramatic stuff.” 

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At Monday’s Knock at the Cabin premiere in New York, the star opened up about what he does want his legacy to be, remembering when he was first cast in Guardians of the Galaxy by casting director Sarah Finn, who spoke highly of co-star Lee Pace.

“She asked me if I knew Lee Pace and I said no, I had not met him; she said, ‘Lee’s amazing, Lee can do anything,’ and I can remember the way she said that with such confidence, and I want people to say that about me,” Bautista told The Hollywood Reporter. “I want people to speak to me in those regards: ‘Dave can do anything,’ and that’s what I want to be my legacy. Not even a specific character, I just want to leave behind a legacy that Dave could do anything, he did any genre — he did comedy, action, drama, whatever you asked him to do he could do.”

That legacy may include Shyamalan’s latest film, which sees four armed strangers (Bautista, Rupert Grint, Nikki Amuka-Bird and Abby Quinn), take a young girl and her parents (Jonathan Groff and Ben Aldridge) hostage while vacationing in a remote cabin, demanding they must choose one of them to die in order to avert the apocalypse.

It’s just Shyamalan’s second R-rated film ever, after 2008’s The Happening, which he jokingly celebrated at the premiere, saying, “I worked hard for that R rating and it means a lot. You don’t get that every time.”

Of the pressure of his classic twists, and wanting to outdo himself with every project, Shyamalan continued, “You definitely want to push yourself each time to do things that make you uncomfortable and not do the same thing, just as a craftsman that’s what you try to do. I try to hire artisans and beautiful artists to work with that are new and are doing things for the first time so it makes me think that way, as a student again.”

Groff told THR he was drawn to the project by wanting to collaborate with the “singular director,” as well as the fact that “there’s a married gay couple and their adopted daughter at the center of this story, and for that to be the central love relationship in a horror movie directed by Night seemed also very exciting to me.”

He and Aldridge both recounted how they got very close with their onscreen daughter Kristen Cui, with Groff noting they had taken her and her mother to see Wicked the night before. All three wore necklaces referencing their characters and the family’s bond on the carpet, and Aldridge recalled ice skating and playing video games with Cui in between shooting.

“We had a lot of fun which we really needed to because the film was so intense; it was kind of relentless, and we were able as a cast, not just the three of us, but the seven of us were a really supportive cast,” Aldridge explained. “Once you got in that cabin you had to totally go for it, you had to go there, and I really appreciated the laughter we were able to have outside of the four walls of that cabin.”

Knock at the Cabin hits theaters on Friday.

Neha Joy contributed to this report.