Interview: Jason Momoa, ‘Aquaman was like winning the lottery'
The US actor talks Aquaman, Game of Thrones, Conan and directorial debut Road to Paloma
Despite roles in Baywatch and Stargate: Atlantis, Jason Momoa first made his mark starring as Khal Drogo in the first season of Game of Thrones, swiftly followed by taking the lead in a reboot of Conan. Recently Momoa was cast as Aquaman in DC's new cinematic universe. He'll be making his debut as the Lord of Atlantis in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), then The Justice League Part One (2017) before his first standalone Aquaman movie in 2018. However, before he heads under the seas, Momoa is on hand to tell us more about his directorial debut Road to Paloma.
Could you briefly tell us what Road to Paloma is about?
It's a movie about a man saying goodbye to his life. Something happened on his reservation, his mother is raped and beaten then the man who did it is released. What if this happened to you? What would you do? Wolf [played by Momoa] is a warrior who'd take it into his hands to murder that person, whether it's right or wrong, he'd never ask for forgiveness. He isn't sorry for what he did, but he's sorry for what he lost. We didn't just want to make a chase movie or a revenge tale, we wanted something a little deeper.
Why did you want to step up and direct Road to Paloma?
After Game of Thrones, having a character like that, that's like the pinnacle of your career. Then having Conan – a lot of roles were coming through that were very similar and there are a lot of stories I wanted to tell. I didn't just want to wait by the phone for a job I didn't even like. I wanted to take a stab at it and I absolutely fell in love with the process and will continue to do so. I've just finished directing some commercials in America and we have our next script but we'll wait for the big movies to come out first. It'll make it a little easier to finance a small independent film when you've got Justice League under your belt.
You act/direct and wrote Road to Paloma. Was it your most challenging project so far?
Absolutely, hands down. I definitely lost years of my life just doing this. You don't really sleep, and I have a family too, so a lot of credit goes to my wife [co-star Lisa Bonet]. It was extremely challenging but super satisfying.
Would you be tempted to direct a project you don't star in?
I would love to. My next one is my Braveheart / Dance with Wolves for the Hawaiian people. It's based on a true story in the 1890s and every Hawaiian actor that I know is going to be in it. I've been wanting to do it forever, and I'm definitely going to star in it as it's a dream role.
You must be pretty excited about playing Aquaman in Zac Snyder’s upcoming Batman v Superman (Dawn of Justice)?
It's not out until 2016 so there's not much I can say. What I'm supposed to look like (image below) wasn't supposed to come out until 2016, but Zac dropped the bomb so I'm very happy I don't have to keep it a secret anymore. You find out you're going to be playing a character like that and then you can't say anything. It totally sucks the wind out of your sails: ‘this is gonna be awesome but you can't tell anyone for years’. It's a very weird feeling. Aquaman was like winning the lottery but you can't spend any of it.
Were you intimidated about following in the footsteps of Arnold Schwarzenegger, playing Conan?
The weird thing is I grew up in a very small town in Iowa with a single mother and we didn’t watch those kind of movies. When I went off to college in 1997 I didn't go back and watch Conan, I was out partying and dating women. My mum raised me on On the Waterfront, Gone with the Wind and Rear Window. She was an artist, so I hadn't seen Conan. But I was a comic book fan and a Robert E Howard fan so what I wanted to do was bring Robert E Howard's character to life. I'll never be like Arnold, and he'll never be like me, so I did my own version of Conan.
You were such an integral part of season one of Game of Thrones. Did you enjoy your time on the show?
I loved it. David [Benioff] and Dan [DB Weiss, co-creators] are still some of my best friends and Emilia [Clarke, aka Daenerys Targaryen] and I are very close. I stay in contact with everyone, I had the time of my life.
What are you working on next?
First off, The Red Road comes out – season one on DVD and season two on TV. The next movie, hmm – [Momoa leans over to ask his team, ‘can I say?’ He gets the ok] – is The Bad Batch. I can't say much about it but it's heavy, gnarly and amazing. The director's first film was called A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, which won the Gotham Award for breakthrough director, Ana Lily Amirpour. It's called The Bad Batch, it's pretty rad, I just wish I could tell you more about it.
Road to Paloma (Anchor Bay) is released on DVD & Blu-Ray, Mon 6 Apr.
Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice is on general release from Spring 2016.
The Bad Batch is scheduled for release in 2016.