XXL: How did your role in RZA’s The Man with the Iron Fists come about?

Dave Bautista: When I left wrestling, I left wrestling because I was talking to Strike Force and I thought I was leaving wrestling to go right into Strike Force. Then, a guy I was training in Kali, which a Filipino martial art, was Marrese Crump and he had been talking to this artist at the time named Kinetic 9. Kinetic was almost like RZA’s apprentice. He had been talking to Marrese about doing something in his video and I had met Method Man years ago—because he used to come to [WWE] shows all the time and I used to flip out because I’m a huge Wu-Tang fan—so when Kinetic showed this video to RZA, he was looking for MMA fighters for The Man with the Iron Fists. He knew me from wrestling, but he didn’t know I was into martial arts, and he flipped out because there’s not many dudes who could play the character I played in the movie. He made a couple of calls to get a hold of Marrese and Marrese told me that, ‘RZA wants to meet you. He thinks he may have a role for you in this movie.’ I turned into a little kid. I flipped out. Meth was there and RZA was there too and I’ve been wanting to meet him for years. This is before everybody was signed on—before Russell Crowe was signed on, before Lucy Liu was signed on. I wanted to work with RZA so bad that I said, ‘Yeah, let me do this.’ So, I really based my year around this movie, which I had to put my fighting off with Strike Force. I put it off for so long that it ended up going in the tank because they got bought out by UFC. That’s just the way it is, but now, my relationship with RZA is just growing.

How was it working with RZA in this movie?

RZA, if you ever sit down and have a conversation with this dude, you’d be amazed just how spiritual he is, philosophical he is. He’s beyond artistic. So, it was a really cool learning experience because he just opened up to me the way he’d see things visually, but also the way he sees things visually and puts them to music. A lot of times, when he was directing scenes, he’d always make sure that the music playing would fit the mood of the scene. The cool thing about this was that it was a huge movie with really big names, but when RZA showed up it was laid back. It was just like hanging out with my boy. I didn’t have any pressure on me. So, if he thought something was wrong, he’d say, ‘Let’s try it like this or do it like that’ and I didn’t feel like I was on the spot. It just felt like I was hanging out in China for two months and having fun. It was a great experience.

How did you meet Action Bronson?

We had a conversation over the phone, but I hadn’t physically met him yet. So, I’m one my way to Johnny’s house and he’s telling me, ‘I might need you to go pick up Action.’ He said their car broke down. Just then, I’m like, ‘Hold on. I see some flashlights or some emergency lights in the distance on the road and I roll up and him and Alchemist are sitting on the side of the road with this jeep that overheated. So, I got out and they were laughing at me and I was laughing at them. We had never met. It was such a funny story that we were all meeting up, right in the middle of LA in the middle of the night because these dudes’ car overheated. I was like, ‘I can’t remember the last time I could remember a car overheating. That doesn’t even happen anymore.’ But they had literally drove this car down to the ground in the middle of the road. Johnny met us there and that’s where we had our pre-production meeting about making his video…right in the middle of the street. Johnny said, ‘You got any ideas?’ I listened to the song and something popped in my head right off the bat. I kind of wrote down a quick story and pitched it to Bronson to see what he thought and he loved it. It’s a shame because we got some great shots of Action. He has a good face. It’s a shame because something got lost in translation with the editing and it got all messed up.

Did you know that he’s actually a legit, master chef?

I had no idea, but it doesn’t surprise me. He’s a creative person.

Action told XXL that you’re going to teach him MMA and get him into shape.

Yeah, if he could come down here and commit to it, then yeah. I know he’s busy doing his thing, but you could tell right off the bat, that he’s an old school wrestling fan and it’s cool if he wants to do it, but right now music is his passion and I don’t see him putting music aside to come and train anytime soon. But yeah, he always has an open invitation from me.

What was it like chilling with Alchemist?

It was like chilling with one of my homeboys who I’ve known for 40 years. He’s just a real friendly, low-key dude and he’s so unassuming that he makes you feel like you’re his boy. He’s good people.