WWE star-turned-actor Dave Bautista has embarked on a new challenge: starring in a children's movie.

Bautista rises to the occasion in My Spy, out in cinemas today. His co-star is the energetic Chloe Coleman (Big Little Lies). Coleman plays Sophie, who stumbles upon a man surveilling herself and her mum.

Bautista plays JJ, the spy caught out by Sophie's antics. Like other family comedies before them (think Vin Diesel in The Pacifier, Jackie Chan in The Spy Next Door), it blends espionage, action and hilarity in a heartwarming way.

"It was first and foremost amazing, but it was also a learning experience," admits Bautista.

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He's referring to the ice skating segments, which proved a challenge for the Guardians of the Galaxy and Blade Runner 2049 star, who officially retired from wrestling last April.

"I've been on ice skates a couple of times in my life, and I'm just not good at it. I think I'm an athletic person until you put me on ice, and then I'm all kinds of out of my element.

"Professional wrestling always helps me as far as the action goes, but even that was kind of a new learning process," he says.

The movie is action-packed and full of fight scenes, with plenty of laughs along the way.

Bautista, 50, is undoubtedly good at playing Sophie's loveable father figure, and the on-screen dynamic between the pair is reminiscent of when fellow former wrestler Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson starred alongside Madison Pettis in 2007's The Game Plan.

When Coleman and Bautista first had chemistry tests for the film, he was nervous about forgetting his lines and admitted it was the 11-year-old that made him step up.

"She's [Coleman] a better actor, and she's also much more professional than I am," he says, seriously.

"I asked her, 'Are you going to be upset with me if I forget my lines?' She said, 'Maybe a little bit.'

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"From then on, she was not only responsible for knowing her lines, but she also had to know my lines. And sure enough, she did.

"It's a testament to how professional she is."

Bautista hopes families will be wowed by Coleman and says My Spy is an alternative to the many animated movies targeted at families.

"It's the kind of film I would have liked to have seen as a kid."

• My Spy is in cinemas tomorrow.