James Gunn reveals which Guardian of the Galaxy was easiest to cast

guardians of the galaxy cast
Image: Marvel

James Gunn, director of the entire Guardians of the Galaxy series to date, has revealed which member was the easiest to cast.

Gunn responded to a question on Twitter from a fan about Drax the Destroyer, and the casting process behind the Kartathian warrior. According to Gunn, Bautista was not only a perfect fit for the role, he was “the only” actor in auditions who completely nailed the character.

Casting for Guardians of the Galaxy began in July 2012, shortly after studio head Kevin Feige confirmed the film’s existence at that year’s San Diego Comic-Con. The first members confirmed were Rocket Raccoon, Groot, Gamora, Drax the Destroyer and Star-Lord, with Chris Pratt signing on to play the latter without reading a script.

The five leads of Guardians of the Galaxy were pencilled in over the next months, with Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket, Vin Diesel as the voice of Groot, and former wrestler Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer.

Dave Bautista had been a wrestler for the WWE during a major stint from 2002 to 2010, and also picked up his first acting credits in 2006. His first role was as an unnamed wrestler in the comedy film Relative Strangers which starred Danny DeVito. Bautista later made a name for himself in action movies over the next few years, with solid performances in The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption, and in Riddick (alongside future castmate and Guardian Vin Diesel).

His casting as Drax the Destroyer was curious at the time, given the ongoing taboo of wrestlers in major Hollywood films. But Bautista absolutely nailed the role, with his surprisingly human backstory resonating much more than you’d expect for a a big green man with tattoos. 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy is still seen as one of the best Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, predominately thanks to the charisma of the main cast.

Gunn added that during test screenings of Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2, that Drax was the most popular and well-received character by audiences – even beating out Baby Groot.

Drax’s popularity increased tenfold after the release of Avengers: Infinity War, with the ongoing joke about Drax being “invisible” getting so big that both director James Gunn and actor Dave Bautista had tired of it. Bautista also spoke out this year about Marvel’s failure to further expand on the history between Drax and Thanos, saying the missed opportunity “just makes me shake my f*****g head”.

Bautista and the rest of the Guardians cast are set to return in three upcoming Marvel Studios projects, such as Thor: Love and Thunder, Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3, and Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special.