As with many comic book and pop culture conventions, Fan Expo has grown gradually over the years since its inception. At one time it might have been strange to see a big name there, but it has gotten bigger and so has its influence. One of the featured guests at this year’s show was Jason Momoa, famous as Drogo from Game of Thrones, but also soon to be taking the lead role in the solo Aquaman film. He joined a moderator to discuss his career in a tongue-in-cheek manner.
Moderator: I am going to ask a few questions off the top, things that are probably on people’s mind. To start, what can you say about Aquaman and about Justice League?
Jason Momoa: It’s going to be amazing. I can say that I am extremely honored and excited, as much as some of you are, it’s a dream come true to be doing something like that. Being a father, I’m going to be really cool for a little bit. My children normally don’t get to see a lot of the things that I’m on. They’re still 8 and 6 and we don’t talk about too many things that papa does. I’m pretty happy to be Aquaman and showing my children [what I do] for another while.
M: There’s many ways that you can take the character, obviously you don’t look like the traditional classic look of Aquaman, and you are known for playing these really tough gruff characters, but you are the most chillest calm nice actor. How do you approach these tough guy characters roles?
JM: Savage roles.
M: Yes, savage roles?
JM: I think it’s just my forehead. I think most people get me confused for being angry, I normally smile a lot more often. I don’t know, I guess I just make a good mean face. There’s a lot of reasons why Zack got this idea of me playing Aquaman, and I am pretty excited to step into his shoes.
M: Is he going to be a bit of a chill characters, because Batman and Superman, at least in these recent films, are serious characters?
JM: I don’t know yet. I can’t see myself busting out a bunch of jokes. I don’t think it will be like that.
Question From the Floor: In comparison to Batman vs Superman, who would Aquaman end up in a feud with?
JM: I don’t know.
M: Oh. you know.
JM: Or I know and I am not going to tell you!
QFF: What would be your reply to any of the Aquaman related fish jokes?
JM: It’s cute and funny, people make fun of him, and there’s a bunch of jokes about him. But I’m like “Just wait. Let’s just wait a little bit. And then we can make jokes.”
M: I will ask you about Road to Paloma, a film that you wrote and directed last year. Can you tell the audience about it if they are not familiar?
JM: I co-wrote it with a buddy, then my friend [Brian Andrew Mendoza] shot it. It’s a story about this man saying goodbye to his life. It deals with some issues that are happening, probably in Canada but definitely in the United States, and it revolves around the rapes on Native American reservations. It’s a huge injustice that I tried to shed some light on. And you know, I’m on a motorcycle, so there’s fun stuff too, and I beat people up, so you’ll like it too. It’s probably the closest to who I am that I have ever played. I’m not like Drogo.
M: I hope not!
JM: No, no I like when my woman doesn’t cry when I have sex with her. That’s always a sign of a healthy relationship.
QFF: I have been watching your Pride of Gypsies take on more creative projects and a larger variety. What is your dream goal or career trajectory that you foresee?
JM: I have a small group of ragtag degenerates that are artists. I am going to be doing these superhero movies for quite a while, and then there’s these movies that I really want to [make] and things that I want to say as an artist. For instance, we just did these commercials, a new one just came out for the winter spots, I went up to all my favorite companies and people that I really respected, and asked if I could do their commercials. I just wanted to keep doing art, and moving people, and if I can do it on a commercial level and make you cry in 30 seconds to a minute, then great. There’s a lot of stories that I want to tell, and one of them being this story in Hawaii, and it’s a period piece, but it’s stuff that we have been talking about for a while. It’s called Enemy in The Valley. It’s a finished script but it will go after Justice League. That’s when I will direct that. We just wrote another one that Pride of Gypsies is going to be producing, and I am going to be shooting in Canada, in Newfoundland. I am going to be in Newfoundland for a wwwwwhile. There’s some other cool stuff happening in the works right now, I don’t really want to curse it, but there’s some new things.
M: Have you been to Newfoundland before?
JM: I haven’t and I am pretty excited to go there. It looks pretty raw.
QFF: When did you first learn the Haka (traditional Polynesian war dance) and what does that mean to you?
JM: I first learned it when I was little. I had been to many events where that had happened. When it really connected to me, my cousin had passed away, he was a football player and all his best friends were doing it when we were taking the casket and lowering him down. I had never seen grown men put out so much energy and love and hurt. I could see tears squirting out of their eyes. It’s designed so that if we are about to go into battle, some guys are more equipped for other things, but we’re all equal, but the Haka is designed to bring us all as one, and you are basically calling upon your ancestors, and you’re grounding yourself and getting ready for battle.
QFF: How much do you draw on you heritage for your roles?
JM: All the time, all the time. I think that it is one of the things that I can offer the most. Having that native blood, I just like being able to identify with it. For different characters, I did a lot of study on Geronimo and Cochise, different warring chiefs, and there were many things that I drew from to find that power.
QFF: What is the back story of your tattoo?
JM: That is the Aumakua, it’s a guardian for my family. It’s the shark. It’s funny, Aquaman and shark. Snyder wanted to take this and put it all over my whole body, which I thought was amazing. It’s to bring the darkness out of the heart and bring the light in. I got it before my son, and it’s kind of like little wolf fangs too.
QFF: What is your favorite Canadian food?
JM: Canadian bacon and Hawaiian pineapple, you’ve got Hawaiian pizza. Which makes no sense. It hate that and all the Hawaiians hate it, we don’t even eat that much pineapple. Why does it have Canadian bacon on top of it? It should be a Canadian pizza with pineapple.
QFF: What role did you read for that you really wanted but didn’t get?
JM: I read for a role in Magnificent Seven, that was the best role in the whole movie. I got very close, but it didn’t work out. It’s the only one that ever got away that I was like “ooof, I really wanted that one”.
QFF: Who is your favorite superhero?
JM: Batman. I grew up when that was coming out, I was at the prime age when Michael Keaton’s Batman came out. It’s kind of cliche but Batman is my favorite.
QFF: I’m a big fan of Barry Windsor-Smith’s Conan. Your portrayal of him was much closer to Barry’s vision, but knowing that you were following in the shoes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, what trepidation did you have going into that role?
JM: I didn’t have any, me and Arnold don’t have anything in common. So, it’s two completely different versions, and I feel like I was a huge Robert E. Howard fan and a huge Frank Frazetta fan. That’s where I got my Conan. I love the Dark Horse comics too, but I felt that Arnold didn’t really capture what Frank or Howard truly was. [With Arnold] they definitely made it fit that piece, to this bodybuilder size. He looks great and looks amazing. I’m not a bodybuilder, I’m an actor, he was a bodybuilder [at that time].
QFF: Were there every any accidents when filming fight sequences on Stargate Atlantis?
JM: Well, yeah. I worked with a lot of people that didn’t know how to do that, Chris Judge and Rachel [Luttrell], they’re just kind of pretty faces. It looks like they know how to fight but they really don’t. Those people hit me all the time. Rachel definitely punched me in the eye. [In one episode] she just hauls off and punches me. They used the take where she was supposed to hit me in the chin [but she hit me in the eye] and I turned my head and said “You fucking hit me!”, and I turn back to her, and you could see the red right here around my eye. And they kept it! So then all thee grips, they sent flowers. They’re rubbing it in that I got hit by a girl.
QFF: What is your personal opinion of filming Games of Thrones? What is it like really?
JM: To date, it’s the greatest thing that I have ever done as an actor. The hardest character to play, and it is the most artistic and beautiful piece of work. The crew and the cast and the first season was really really amazing. It’s the greatest experience that I have had in my acting career. Doing Game of Thrones before it really hit … I think that it would be really challenging now and harder, because I’ve got to spend a lot of time with Kit, Richard and just a lot of the cast members. Rory. We were all there at once, and we just shot episodes, not blocks of them. So now some cast members don’t even cross over, but I was there the longest, I got to really hang out and become family with everyone. I’m really glad that I got to experience that.
QFF: They have talked about the fluffy pink sock that happened on the set …
JM: The fluffy big pink sock, you don’t want to knock any of those adjectives out.
QFF: Right, can you tell us what went through your mind to use that instead of a modest sock to cover your privates?
JM: There’s a lot of reasons! You’re going to have to stick around and watch what my mind does. There’s a lot of people in there talking that do stupid things. If I am really uncomfortable, I’m a big fan of laughing, that helps when you are naked around a whole crew of people in the middle of January in Belfast, Ireland. It’s cold, not that cold, but the fluffy pink sock brings a little levity to the situation.
M: Did you anticipate it becoming the global phenomenon that it is when you took the job?
JM: I knew that it was going to be huge. HBO put everything into it, and … it’s HBO. I just wanted to be in the room talking to HBO, let alone get that role, it’s the role of a lifetime. I will never get a role that will ever have that big of an impact. It’s going to be tough to beat.
M: Sounds like Aquaman is going to be pretty cool
JM: It is, [but Game of Thrones was different], there was only like 5 or 6 episodes where I really have to come off one way, and turn it around and make you fall in love with me, make you hate me then make you love me, then make you cry.
M: What is like having become a sex symbol?
JM: It’s weird. I just kind of go “uhhhhh.” You don’t really know what to do with it.
QFF: Does your family ever have a reaction to you after your work on Game of Thrones?
JM: When I ripped that guy’s throat out, my daughter was sitting on set knitting, she was with the wardrobe people. She would come sit with me and say “Papa, you’re so silly!” The only time that kind of freaked them out was when I did Wolves, it was five hours of makeup, putting on a wolf suit, I had the teeth in and everything, and I was like “Hey kids!” And they were like “Papa?” And I was like (in a kid’s voice) “Hey, I’m a wolf”. And they grabbed momma’s leg.
They’re cool with it, but when I shot Game of Thrones, I couldn’t grow a beard that long that quick, plus Hawaiians aren’t that hairy. So they made me shave [my beard] off and they would glue all of it on, and I kept the mustache. I had this 70s porn mustache. I’m 6′ 5” running around Belfast, which is pretty white. It’s hard [to get eyeliner out], I don’t have time to get it all out, so I just wipe it off and go to bed, or go to the bar first. So I go to the bar, and for a whole season, everyone’s just like “there’s the big drag queen!” They didn’t know anything about Game of Thrones. They were just like “He’s cool, he’s harmless” I just have my [eyeliner] on and my mustache and my long hair. When I went back the second season it was a total different vibe.