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Dave Bautista Talks Representation in Hollywood and Defying Stereotypes with ‘Stuber’

Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani make an unlikely duo in “Stuber,” an R-rated comedy about a police officer and his Uber driver. But the two connected over the rare chance to star in the film as actors of Asian descent (Baustia is half-Filipino and Nanjiani is Pakistani).

“I’ve been stereotyped for a couple different reasons – one for my ethnicity and also because of the way I look. I look like a gorilla, I get that,” Bautista told Variety at the film’s premiere at L.A. Live on Wednesday night. “I get that I’m excluded from some parts, but sometimes it really sucks to be labeled like that. So, I love that we touch on it [in this movie] and we actually even, we poke at it a little bit because there’s times where you do label people sometimes and you don’t even realize you’re doing it.

“I actually did another film recently where I insisted the cast be very diverse in ethnicity. So, for me, it’s a personal thing because I’ve been that guy,” he added. “[But] I think this is who America is and I think people want to see themselves on screen.”

In “Stuber,” Bautista plays Vic Manning, a rowdy police detective who ropes Nanjiani’s unassuming Uber driver named Stu into hunting down a dangerous drug dealer. But why does Manning need an Uber instead of driving his own police car? Because he’s been temporarily blinded by Lasik eye surgery — violence and hilarity ensue.

“I think it’s great that Hollywood is thinking that people of color who lead movies — like studio movies — is profitable,” Nanjiani told Variety. “That’s the most exciting thing to me. They’re not doing it because they want to be more diverse or improve the world. They’re doing it because it’s better for profits. We’ve seen so many people of color-led movies doing really well at the box office.”

Aside from the marked improvement on the diversity front, “Stuber” also gave Nanjiani the opportunity to try to be an action star while the former WWE wrestler showed off his comedy chops.

“I’d never done action, so it was a whole new type of acting that I had never done or thought about, not practiced at all. And then Dave was just so good at it; he’s done it so much. But I really was learning from the best while I was doing it,” Nanjiani continued, telling Variety he tried to channel Bruce Willis, labeling him one of the best action stars because “he could do action really well and be really funny.”

The comedian also shared that his-costar felt “he had to learn comedy,” though he’d already been so funny in films like “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Bautista explained the initial lack of confidence went both ways: “[Kumail’s] more athletic than he gives himself credit for.”

“I really didn’t show them how to do anything,” he continued. “I was just kind of there as his buddy. Like being very supportive because he was very self-conscious about what he was doing. I was like, ‘Dude, you’re killing it…you’re crushing it.'”

So, what’s next for the pair? Nanjiani is rumored to continue playing the action star in Marvel’s “The Eternals.” Bautista is already a member of the MCU and will reprise his role as Drax in the upcoming “Guardians of the Galaxy 3.” His advice for his potential Marvel brother-to-be about joining the superhero family: “I would advise him — that if it is true — that he just keeps his mouth shut until it is announced.”

“Stuber” is in theaters now.

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