shadows features Prowling like a lion
Jason Momoa talks Conan the Barbarian...
in  interview mode
in conan mode

ammann and tosar
No shirt required: Momoa as Conan (above), and in Baywatch and Game of Thrones (below)
baywatch and game of thrones

1.Aug.79 • Honolulu
Conan the Barbarian (2011)
Game of Thrones (2011)
Brown Bag Diaries: Ridin' the Blinds in B Minor (2010) - also dir-scr
Stargate: Atlantis (2005-2009)
North Shore (2005)
Baywatch (1999-2001)

B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
conan the barbarian On meeting Jason Momoa, it's impossible not to be nearly overwhelmed by his physicality. Standing 6'4" tall and nearly bursting out of his artist-chic outfit, his handshake is enveloping. Meanwhile, his attitude is that of a big surfer; he doesn't look particularly comfortable in this "costume", and he certainly doesn't look relaxed in the press interview setting. But he smiles and sighs, as if to say, "OK, let's get this over with." The problem is that I'm the first interview in a long day of press for Conan the Barbarian, culminating in a massive premiere at London's O2 this evening. So I just start with the obvious...

Was there a point when you realised that your physicality was a way into acting or modelling?
No, not at all, it was pretty much on a whim. I was on vacation visiting my father in Hawaii and then this TV show [Baywatch] showed up out of nowhere. It was on the radio - a big casting call, and 1,300 people showed up. I went down there to meet women. That's kind of it. And I guess doing sports and that kind of thing helped me get the job.

The physicality
and action stuff, yeah, it’s fun!

So now you find yourself in a huge action role.
Well, I think that's what's going to be in Conan no matter what, but what I tried to interject into the movie was a little bit of humanity, a sense of humour, personality and some vulnerability. You don't want him to just slash and kill everything. You've got to be relatable, you know? So hopefully that did work out - we only had two hours to do that. But the physicality and action stuff, yeah, it's fun. You're like a big kid doing it - the action is super fun, but you also want to throw in a bit of humanity.

Why Conan?
Well, I was a a big comic book fan and I loved Conan growing up, so it's an honour to play this character. I like that he's a pirate and a thief. I just kind of like the fact that he's flawed as a human but he does some good things in the face of danger. If anyone messed with my children that would bring out the barbarian in me.

Were you involved in developing his look in this film? How did you prepare for it?
I wanted to take the paintings of Conan off the canvass and put them right on the big screen - primal and feral - and I wanted to put a lot of samurai work into it, basically making him kind of graceful with a broadsword. To build up the aggression for the role, I studied a lot of lions! I wanted to get the look down, for him to be able to prowl and hunt, to be nimble and a product of his environment. That was the idea to get that body type. I had some brawls with my friends and stirred up the anger! But that's about it.

How does action compare to the drama and sex in Conan as well as Game of Thrones? Were the naked scenes more difficult?
I think it's the whole experience of making a movie - the art that's involved. I enjoyed every piece of it. The only hard thing is keeping injury at bay. You're really trying to stay healthy, because you're wearing yourself pretty thin doing all this stuff.

I’m just kicking down the doors in Hollywood now

What else would you like to do as an actor
I'd like to do everything. I'm just kicking down the doors in Hollywood now. I've been doing it for 13 years. It takes a lot to get in there, but I'm not putting any limitations on what I can and can't do.

Are you looking for any other kind of roles?
Comedy is one of my favourite things, and I'd love to do that. I want to get behind the camera a little bit more, so I wrote a script and got some money for it and I'll be directing that at the beginning of the year.

How does directing compare to being an actor?
For me it's the ultimate expression of art: you've got your visuals, you've got your storytelling, you've got your acting and you've got music, and I really enjoy it. As an actor, I don't like waiting in my trailer to do something when I can be a part of a group of people - you know, the camaraderie of it. I just enjoy the whole process.

What about travelling around the world selling your film?
It's crazy! It's very challenging; the red carpet stuff is pretty hard, having to travel, you don't know what city you're in from time to time, and I'm working at the same time, so it's definitely pretty hard.

What are you working on now?
We're filming in New Orleans, and it's called Bullet to the Head, based on a French graphic novel. It stars Sylvester Stallone and Christian Slater, and I play an assassin. It's my first villain role. Walter Hill's directing it.

A lot of people compare you to Arnold Schwarzenegger.
I don't think I'm really following Schwarzenegger's career path, I just happened to do one of his films. And I've only done a few things so far anyway, so I don't want to get into a box.



© 2011 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall