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“Guardians of the Galaxy” cast and director in town for Singapore premiere

“Guardians of the Galaxy” cast members Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana and director James Gunn talk Zen, tears and female empowerment at a media conference ahead of the film's Singapore premiere.

SINGAPORE: He not only plays the towering Drax the Destroyer, a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, a group of misfits who must save the universe from certain doom, in the eponymous film, but it seems US wrestler-turned actor Dave Bautista would make a pretty good protector in real life too.

“I saw a guy at the wrap party. The guy was physically assaulting a girl and Dave protected this young lass. The guy came running at Dave and Dave just touched him with the heel [of his palm] and the guy flew 20 feet,” said “Guardians of the Galaxy” director James Gunn, at a media conference for the film on Thursday in Singapore.

While Bautista is perhaps better known for viciously slamming, striking and manhandling his opponents in the wrestling ring, the soft-spoken 45-year-old said he is actually “a very Zen person”, a trait that helped him a lot while shooting “Guardians of the Galaxy”.

He explained that he managed to remain calm even though had to stand still for hours while the makeup artists worked on transforming him into the grey-skinned alien Drax the Destroyer.

“I’m by nature a very Zen person, I literally just zoned out. I liked closing my eyes when I wasn’t Drax and opening my eyes and I was Drax.

“It was kind of a cool mental thing and a way for me to get into character,” said Bautista during the media conference.

However, his “Guardians of the Galaxy” co-star Zoe Saldana, was somewhat less calm about spending five and a half hours in a makeup chair each day, in order to play the green-skinned Gamora, an orphan from an alien world.

“They would bring you in earlier than they would bring catering, so you’d be hungry for hours before the kitchen was open. It made me crazy!” said Saldana, before adding that the makeup artists actually did a great job putting her at ease.

“You know, I thought that it was going to be harder but it really wasn’t, because we were also working with amazing makeup artists.

“So you walk in and they create such a beautiful and serene space. You pick a playlist sometimes or you talk about something, or you pass out and then you wake up, and you’re green.”

In spite of the hardships she faced over the course of filming for “Guardians of the Galaxy”, Saldana said working on the film had been “a great experience, because it had everything I grew up wanting movies to have”, and that she was glad to have been part of the film.

“The story was really complete and the characters had such a beautiful journey, from the beginning to the end, individually but also as a collective,” said the 36-tyear-old actress, who has appeared in films like “Avatar” and “Star Trek”.

She went on to point out that the film contains strong female characters and “delivers a very strong message to young women that besides being beautiful and delicate flowers … you can also channel your strength and not be afraid of it”.

Like Saldana, Bautista also felt grateful to have been part of the film, and said he actually cried when he found out he had been cast as Drax.

“I literally broke down. I was driving, I was actually on my way to the gym – surprise, surprise - and my manager called … he got my agent on the phone and he said ‘Congratulations Mr Drax’, and I literally just broke down. I drove home, I was a mess,” said Bautista.

“It was a big deal to me. I could never explain to people how big this was for me.

“It was a life changing thing for me. It was hard for me to leave behind wrestling. I worked and struggled … auditioned and auditioned and finally got the dream role,” he continued.

“It was like make or break. I pretty much lost everything I gained in wrestling … because I took a chance on myself, because I have this passion for acting and I wanted to pursue it.”

“I’m proud to say I broke down because it meant that much to me.”

Singapore fans of the trio will be able to catch a glimpse of Saldana, Gunn and Bautista when they walk the red carpet from 6.30pm on Saturday at the Singapore gala premiere of “Guardians of the Galaxy”, at the Shaw Lido cinema.

The film, which also stars Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel and Lee Pace, opens here on July 31.

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