Dave Bautista in ‘SPECTRE’ (Sony)
Warning: SPECTRE spoilers ahead.
Dave Bautista doesn’t speak all that much as Drax the Destroyer, the hulking criminal-turned-superhero in last year’s box office sensation Guardians of the Galaxy. But Drax is a motormouth compared to Mr. Hinx, the imposing rogue the 46-year-old former wrestler plays in the new James Bond film SPECTRE.
Hinx says exactly one word in 007’s 24th big-screen adventure. It’s a choice four-letter one — and it was almost even less than that: “I thought it’d be great if he never spoke,” Bautista told Yahoo Movies this week.
We first meet Hinx at a board meeting of sorts for the diabolical agency S.P.E.C.T.R.E, where he volunteers for a promotion by gouging his predecessor’s eyes out with metal fingernails. He then spends a large chunk of the film tailing Bond (Daniel Craig), first in a car chase through Rome, then in a plane-and-car chase through the Austrian Alps, and finally, meeting for fisticuffs on a train zipping through north Africa. It’s there Hinx meets his maker, with a little help from Bond’s travel companion Madeleine Swan (Léa Seydoux). “S–t,” Hinx says dejectedly just before he’s jettisoned from the speeding train car.
The fact that Hinx was so tight-lipped initially came as a surprise to Bautista. He told Yahoo Movies this week that for his audition tape, he recreated a “very dialogue-heavy” scene (that intense torture sequence between Bond and Mads Mikkelsen’s Le Chiffre) from 2006’s Casino Royale, the first 007 film to introduce Craig in the iconic role. After the actor got the part, director Sam Mendes sent him the script, and Hinx didn’t have a single line.
“The dialogue thing was constantly a conversation [throughout production],” Bautista he says. “And oftentimes a joke. Like we’d say it jokingly, 'What if he never spoke?'… Or I thought it’d be great if right before he went to speak, then he was yanked off. And then we went back and forth, and Sam thought for a minute that maybe Hinx would say something just really profound. [We came up with something] really profound, but it didn’t fit the scene at all.”
Bautista on set with Craig and Seydoux (Sony)
So they settled on “s–t,” which Bautista delivered in his natural accent. After production wrapped, the filmmakers called Bautista at his home in Tampa Bay and told him they’d need him to record some voiceover — his single word sounded “too American.” They tried a few different accents, and ultimately ended up with the one you hear in the film that’s intended to be, as Bautista describes it, “a very ambiguous Eastern European accent.”
Hinx is a clear highlight of SPECTRE, and the character is drawing comparisons to another beloved Bond henchman: Goldfinger’s rotund bruiser Oddjob, who spoke mainly with his fists — he only says four variations of “Ah” — and was also played by an ex-wrestler, the late Harold Sakata.
“It’s an homage to that type of character, not so much Oddjob himself,” Bautista says. “Oddjob was very much a butler, a manservant. With Hinx, not so much. He’s more of a high-ranking member of S.P.E.C.T.R.E. He doesn’t really follow anybody’s orders.”
Bautista describes Hinx as more of an ominous combination of Oddjob, Jaws (the Bond villain played by the late Richard Kiel in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker), and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator.
Sakata as Oddjob in 'Goldfinger’ (MGM)
A one-word role might sound like a cakewalk, but Bautista didn’t see it that way. Having no lines to memorize didn’t alleviate any of the stress of stepping into the Bond series, of which Bautista has been a lifelong fan.
“The pressure is always stepping on stage with actors who are just so well-established. It’s a scary thing,” says Bautista, who performed his own fight stunts in the film. “I haven’t been around the block that many times, especially not on big projects. Dialogue makes things easier. When you start bouncing dialogue off of other actors it becomes comfortable, it becomes conversational. When you don’t have that luxury, you worry.”
Luckily he nails the one piece of dialogue he did get to have.
SPECTRE is now in theaters.
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