Rian Johnson says Dave "The Animal" Bautista is the best wrestler-turned-actor

Pro Wrestling is amazing. To the layman, wrestling is just a bunch of steroid abusers yelling at each other interspersed between clearly fake fights. And while there is a modicum of truth to that appraisal, one also has to remember that pro wrestling is one of the last commercially viable forms of traveling theater. Unlike Broadway musicals and opera, wrestling is a vulgar art that sheds the inessential elements of storytelling and focuses on the most crucial aspects of character conflict.

Although Vince McMahon's muscle-bound soap operas of the WWE would lead you to believe otherwise, wrestling survived from the 1900s to the present by creating characters that were grounded and believable, albeit if also a little theatrical.

As one of the few modern wrestlers that made it his personal mission to remain a believable character within the confines of the WWE circus, it's no shock that Dave "The Animal" Bautista has come to be regarded as the best wrestler turned actor. Don't just take my word for it; check out what Rian Johnson said about Bautista in a recent interview.

Here's a good one for the Glass Onion fandom: Rian Johnson, director of both Knives Out films, just talked up Bautista in a way that might stir up some friendly debate. "When I was writing [his character, a men's-rights streamer named Duke Cody], I was picturing a scrawny dude who's trying to overcompensate," Johnson said in a recent interview with The Atlantic. "When Bautista was brought up, I was instantly so smitten by the idea. I've been a very big fan of his dramatic chops as an actor."

"I think somebody like [Paul Thomas Anderson] is going to give him a real part and is gonna look like a genius," said Johnson. "As a person, Bautista is genuinely, immediately vulnerable when you meet him, and that's what I was excited about. This is someone who has the physical trappings of someone who would play it big, but he actually brings sensitivity to the role." The appreciation goes both ways, as Bautista shared a video on his Twitter showing a heartwarming moment from Glass Onion's wrap party in 2021. In the video, Bautista thanks the cast and crew for their hard work—and ends up giving his WWE championship belt to Johnson.

While it might be a shock to non-wrestling fans, those of us who regularly indulge in the art form always knew that Bautista was built for Hollywood decades ago.