At first glance, Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista are polar opposites. Take Nanjiani. The 41-year-old comic made a name for himself playing the people-pleasing emotional guy, serving up beta male insults on HBO’s Silicon Valley and caring for his ill spouse in The Big Sick, the Oscar-nominated romantic comedy he co-wrote with his wife, Emily Gordon. Then there’s Bautista. 6’3″. 290 pounds. Fully tatted. The 50-year-old gained fame as a WWF (now WWE) heavyweight, pile-driving opponents into the mat with his signature “Batista Bomb” before his recent transition to film, where he became known for roles like Drax the Destroyer in Guardians of the Galaxy. But beneath the surface, both men are far more similar than you’d expect.
It’s a dynamic explored in their upcoming film, Stuber, where nice guy pushover Stu (Nanjiani) serves as an Uber driver to Vic (Bautista), a grizzled cop pursuing a notorious drug lord. Problem is, Vic just got Lasik eye surgery, so he needs Stu to be his eyes as he tracks down the perp. I saw a screening of the near-finished film at SXSW, and it’s a wild, funny, and violent ride. But what makes Stuber unique is how it challenges the traditional idea of what it means to be an action hero, and in a grander sense, what it means to be a man. After chatting with Nanjiani and Bautista, it became clear they challenge that idea in their real lives as well.
Here’s what they had to say about Stuber, comedy, old tweets, and how they’d survive in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. (The interview has been modified for length and clarity).