Jason Momoa Talks Playing Tough Guys Conan the Barbarian and Drogo in Game of Thrones

Categories: Film and TV
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The quest for the next action hero has been on ever since the Terminator became the Governator. But glaringly absent from the parade of would-be heirs to the throne have been the old school breed of ass-kicker so many grew up with in the '80s, the sword-wielding hero at the epicenter of a world filled with magic. But with the long-awaited return of the Conan franchise, Hawaiian-born actor Jason Momoa is poised to change all that.

The muscular, six-foot-four actor, who recently gained cult popularity for his role as warrior king Kahl Drogo in HBO's Game of Thrones, is literally built for the challenge.

We chatted with Momoa about his upcoming action breakout, Conan the Barbarian 3D, and we even pry loose some hints that'll make Thrones fans giddy with anticipation.

New Times: We heard you never saw the original films growing up. Do you think not having been familiar with the originals made it easier for you to play this iconic character in your own way?
Jason Momoa: Yeah. And that's one of the beautiful things about imagination. When I read a book or I see a comic, it's my imagination. It's my perspective of what I'm reading. And that's the image that comes into my head, so that's going to be my portrayal of that character. It's my paint going on that canvas. So it's my interpretation as an actor of what I read.

There's so much material, and there are so many stories, I don't think I need to watch a movie to understand who Conan is. I think my biggest inspiration is [artist] Frank Fazetta. I look at Frank Fazetta's paintings and I don't see Arnold Schwarzenegger. I look at the comics and I don't see Arnold Schwarzenegger. He did a great job, but we're two totally different things.

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From first glance, people might look at your two most recent roles, Conan and Kahl Drogo, and think they're more similar than they really are.
Yeah, the way I hold them, they're obviously both from savage races, or however you perceive that. But playing Drogo is infinitely harder in the sense of acting, because of his presence. Conan is all action. He's a little younger than Drogo too.

But Drogo's a king, man. Drogo holds himself with an air that you just cant...I mean, I don't walk around as king of my own house. It was very hard for me to carry myself as if I had a horde of 400,000 people at my command. And then to do those speeches in Dothraki, and have that whole language. It was extremely hard.

Drogo's character didn't have any action. We put a scene in there to add some of that, but Conan is all action.

There are a few moments that hint rather strongly that there might be plans for more Conan films in the future.
Absolutely! This is the rebirth of the franchise. I mean that's what I'm here for. There are tons of stories. I've even got my own stories. I'm going to take a stab at number two. I've got my meeting right on August 20, right after the premier. If we do well, it's perfect. It's a beautiful origin story, and it sets up this world and this character perfectly. Next one is bigger and better.

It's so much different from watching the whole superhero, do-gooder thing. Everyone has a little darkness in them--that conflict of being human, and that conflict of being a man. And that's what Conan goes through. Something you can relate to. I can't relate to wearing a super-powered green ring. But at their best, I think humans are super heroes. They can, and do, beautiful things for other people. Conan has that struggle too. He drinks, fights and fucks, and then does a good deed and is rewarded.

As far as Thrones, is Drogo really gone for good, or will he be popping back up?
I think we'll always see Drogo. Everyone misses him. Even I miss him. He might be there. We may have changed George Martin's mind, and by book seven, he'll come back and rule the kingdom. Or have a twin brother. You never know. 

Look for the full Q&A in this week's issue.

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