One Dune Scene Fulfilled A Career Dream For Dave Bautista

The story of Dave Bautista's Hollywood career is the story of him trying to prove he's not your average wrestler-turned-actor. To be fair, Bautista's best movies really do suggest he has the talent to take his acting career beyond the tough-man roles so many former grapplers come to embody. He proved that he has potential with his role as Sapper Morton in "Blade Runner 2049," and then followed through on that promising turn with his performance as Leonard in 2023's "Knock at the Cabin." But despite charting a diverse filmography and being recognized as the best wrestler-turned-actor by his "Glass Onion" director Rian Johnson, it's always seemed like Bautista has wanted more.

Though he claims to have proven himself with "Knock at the Cabin," that doesn't mean he's done demonstrating his talents. This year, we've seen him finally given more to do in Denis Villeneuve's "Dune" duology with the arrival of "Dune: Part Two." Bautista's role as Rabban "The Beast" Harkonnen is interesting for combining the tough man aspect of the actor's personality with moments of pure drama, allowing him to show off his acting chops while simultaneously projecting his brutish strength.

This came to a head in one particular scene that the former WWE Champion feels put his acting commitment to the test.

The Dune: Part Two scene that defined Bautista's character

When Dave Bautista first started working on "Dune: Part Two," he claims to have been surprised by his co-star Austin Butler in a deeply emotional way. Evidently, the "Guardians of the Galaxy" star was intimidated by Butler, who was coming off his Oscar-nominated performance in "Elvis." But Butler quickly surprised Bautista with how warm and affable he was. During one particular scene in "Part Two," however, Butler's ruthless assassin Feyd-Rautha is anything but kind to Bautista's Rabban Harkonnen.

After Rabban, the leader of the Harkonnen forces on the planet Arrakis, continually tries and fails to root out and defeat the Fremen, Stellan Skarsgård's Baron Vladimir Harkonnen replaces him with Feyd-Rautha. But the transition is not a smooth one, as Feyd-Rautha humiliates his predecessor by forcing him to kiss his boot in a tense scene that sees the once imposing Rabban suddenly reduced to an obsequious inferior to Butler's villain.

Speaking to IGN, Bautista recalled a particular scene in the sequel wherein we "get to see the true essence of who Rabban is." Though the outlet doesn't confirm which moment the actor is referring to, it seems likely it's this confrontation between Rabban and Feyd-Rautha, where the once intimidating Rabban is suddenly undermined. He continued:

"Most actors might look at that scene and be like, 'I don't want to do that'. And I read that scene and I was like, 'Man, that's great.' Because that's when you get to see the layers of the character and that's when you get to see who Rabban really is."

Dave Bautista proved his point with Dune: Part Two

It's interesting to hear how Dave Bautista viewed his role as Rabban Harkonnen, who on the surface seems very much to be the kind of brutish brawler audiences might expect the actor to portray. But for Bautista, the role was actually much more layered. In his IGN interview, he explained further how the single scene in which we "get to see the layers of the character," was a key moment, adding:

"Any big, tough guy could play this big, menacing, ominous brute. But when you add the layers to him, especially in that moment, that's a performer's dream. That's my dream. And that's what I love: that I have that confidence from Denis where he knows that I could pull off that moment, because it just validates me. I've always said that I want to be an actor, I want to be a movie star. And it's moments like that where I get to say, I told you, you know? I get to prove my point."

The "Stuber" star has previously stated that he liked playing Drax in the "Guardians of the Galaxy" series, but doesn't want that saga to define his legacy. Though roles such as Rabban Harkonen might not seem like too much of a departure from the hulking alien tough guy he seems so eager to get away from, there's no doubt his "Dune" character was a much more dramatic role, and allowed Bautista to explore a more sinister persona. We'll have to see how he further expands his range with the upcoming live-action "Beowulf" movie.