Exclusive interview: Batista discusses “Spectre,” Daniel Craig’s punching prowess and his WWE future
When he last appeared in a WWE ring, Batista made a brash decision about his future in sports-entertainment. Frustrated from the icy reception the WWE Universe had given his return run, The Animal handed in his resignation.
Luckily for the six-time World Champion, another door opened just as he decided to close one in WWE. Behind that door was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: create a signature role in an iconic film series that’s best summed up in three simple words: Bond. James Bond.
The Animal brings a brand-new Bond henchman to life in the film’s latest installment, “Spectre,” which is now playing in theaters worldwide. WWE.com caught up with Batista to discuss his first foray as a Bond villain, his future plans with WWE and the punch from Daniel Craig that nearly broke his nose.
WWE.COM: Could you tell us a little bit about Hinx, the character you play in “Spectre”?
BATISTA: My character is a very classic style henchman. It was intentionally done so he would be just a really bada**, silent, classic Bond style henchman with his “special talent,” so to speak.
WWE.COM: Obviously, the role was written a certain way, but you also were bringing something to the character. How did you go about creating Hinx?
WWE.COM: Did you find yourself bringing in any of your old WWE mannerisms or influences into that mindset?
BATISTA: Not intentionally. I remember [Jim Ross] saying way back when I was in OVW, “Your face is where you make your money." I always took that to heart and it was something I always worked on. I always had really good relationships with the WWE cameramen. I knew to make sure they'd find me and I'd find them, and they'd see the look on my face and that would tell a whole story. So, I think it was a talent I developed over the years, but I didn't intentionally bring it. I think it was already there. I think it's part of why I got the job.
WWE.COM: So there’s a lot of chatter about your big fight scene on a train. Who got it worse — you or Daniel Craig?
BATISTA: Oh, Daniel. Daniel got it a lot worse, which was by design. This was something that was really cool, which excited me about the character, which also made me really honored that I'd be this guy. Not only did they want to bring back that style of [Bond] henchman, but they also wanted to really put James Bond in an underdog situation. So, they wanted somebody who was a really formidable threat and they wanted somebody to hand Bond his a**. That's the way the fight was designed. That's the way it looked and that's the way it was. I mean, Daniel took a real beating for this fight scene. And not only that, but he had multiple fight scenes whereas I only really had the one.
WWE.COM: Although it's in this fight where Craig actually injures his knee, correct?
BATISTA: Yeah, actually, it was really bad. It required surgery and, because I think it was a temporary fix that he got to get him through filming, he's probably going to need more surgery. But it was right there in the fight scene. It happened in the first couple of days in.
WWE.COM: What led to the injury?
[Daniel Craig] cracked me right in the nose, like a full-blown left hook. ... My nose just exploded and he thought he'd broke it.BATISTA: I distinctly remember the moment. It was in the middle of a tussle, where I was throwing him around and his leg just went out. He dropped and he slipped. I picked him back up and he tried to continue and then he just said, "Stop. Something's wrong with my knee." He tried to walk it off. We tried to go in another take and he could just barely walk. So we had to really come back toward the end of filming to continue that fight scene. And this was after surgery. I mean, this was after months.
WWE.COM: I understand he got in a few good shots, however. What happened to your nose in that scene?
BATISTA: Yeah, he cracked me right in the nose, like a full-blown left hook. It was quite a left hook, right in the nose. My nose just exploded and he thought he'd broke it. Everybody thought he'd broke it; it was so loud. I mean, you heard gasps from the crew and the camera dropped and I mean my suit was covered in blood; it looked like a murder scene.
But, you know, I knew it wasn't broken. I've had my nose broken plenty of times. Randy [Orton] broke my nose in the ring years back with his elbow. And so, I'm on my second nose. I had to have it rebuilt, my septum and my nose. I knew it wasn't broken, but it was definitely fractured. I mean, it was bad. It hurt for months.
WWE.COM: So compared to when Orton did it, it wasn't as painful. Just different?
BATISTA: No, no. Randy – that was a clean break [laughs]. That broke, man. I had surgery a little over a month after that incident.
WWE.COM: How would you rate Daniel Craig's punch?
BATISTA: I'm comparing him to other left hooks I've gotten. It's pretty solid. I think if it had caught me in the temple or possibly the jaw, it may have knocked me out.
WWE.COM: Oh wow.
BATISTA: He threw on full force. I don't know if a lot of people realize it, but he's a strong, athletic guy and he works out really hard. I know his personal trainer, [Duffy Gaver]. It's the same guy who trained Chris Pratt in London for “Guardians of the Galaxy” and he trains him hard. Daniel's a really hard worker. He's a stout guy; he's not a little tiny guy.
WWE.COM: Changing speeds a little bit: where would we be more likely to see you with The Rock — on a movie set or in the ring at WrestleMania?
WWE.COM: Has he offered any words of advice along the way for your film career?
BATISTA: Yes, for sure. For one, he told me that it was going to be a rough transition, especially because people want to slap on a label when you come from WWE. So, those are hard doors to break down, to get people to break those stereotypes, break those labels and see you as an actual, well-rounded entertainer. It's not an easy thing. Also, I was really curious about how Dwayne went about wrestling and continuing with a film career, because it's not an easy thing to do. I mean, really, I'm still amazed that he's been able to do it and be successful at it.
WWE.COM: Is that something that's in the back of your mind, finding your way back into a WWE ring?
BATISTA: I miss it so much. What I really thought was so interesting is the way that Chris Jericho went back and did Live Events. Live Events are fun, man. It's really just all about you and the audience. I always just loved that. I'm passionate about it. I'm proud to be a pro wrestler because I love it.