'Conan the Barbarian' star Jason Momoa doesn't care whether you've seen 'The Governator' in his adaptation of the fictional comic book hero. In fact, he ventures that if you're of a certain age, you've probably never seen the original films that catapulted Arnold Schwarzenegger's acting career in the early 1980s. He hasn't, either.
Momoa wants you to remember this Conan - his Conan.
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Although he's been "in the business" for more than a decade, most notably as Ronon Dex in the military sci-fi TV series 'Stargate: Atlantis,' and more recently as warlord Khal Drogo in the highly successful first season of the HBO series 'Game of Thrones,' Momoa's Conan also finds an ambitious actor once again on the rise and launching into the stratosphere of superstardom.
At 6 foot 4, the handsome actor isn't as imposing as he is animated and down-to-earth. In fact, Jason Momoa is very much an artist - one who's not really concerned with making blockbuster films as he is with moving people and making them think. Much like some of the actors he respects, who have an independent spirit about them and are icons in their own right.
Apart from his critical success and the soon-to-be blockbuster debut of 'Conan,' which hits theaters Friday, Momoa is a guy's guy and an ambitious director and writer, who wrapped production earlier this year on 'Brown Bag Diaries: Ridin' the Blinds in B Minor,' the story of two downtrodden brothers coming to terms with their past while living as vagabonds. The short film smacks of a series in the making. His pet project, though, part of the 'Brown Bag Diaries' series of films in the works, is 'Road to Paloma,' a film he is co-writing and directing, which he hopes to release through his Pride of Gypsies production company. He promises, "it's a sucker punch."
In this leo lies the heart of a lion and the spirit of a vagabond heart, but don't let the passion for his craft deceive you. There are others. He proudly showed AOL Latino his distinct wedding ring; one that reflects a union with his sun Lilakoi Moon, otherwise known as enigmatic femme bohémien Lisa Bonet, with whom he has a daughter, Lola Lolani, and a son, Nakoa-Wolf.
AOL LATINO: This is an important role for you because it's your first major motion picture, and you signed up to do two sequels. Are you worried about the film going bust in theaters?
JASON MOMOA: Absolutely, it's my first movie and you kind of worry if it's going to do well. I feel like it's going to be amazing. I don't have any fear that it's going to drop out and bomb. I think one of the reasons why I chose to do Conan was after doing HBO, doing Khal Drogo ['Game of Thrones'] and playing that role, once I knew I had that under my belt, then people would know that Conan is what it is. I knew they were going to make a beautiful world based on what [director] Marcus [Nispel] told me it was going to be like. The stories I've read. I knew the potential that I had inside and be able to show it to the world. I don't have any doubt, you know what I mean?
There's a little bit of a doubt, when you're like, 'oh will people watch because it's bloody?' But you want it to be the bloodiest it can be, it's Conan. You can't, and don't want to mess with those true fans, but at the same time, it's not PG 13, and it ain't gonna do what, like, Thor does or something like that. I hope it catches on because I think we really did a good job in it.
I know that Conan fans will turn around and be like, 'alright, Momoa did a good job with Conan.'
Sean Connery's amazing in Bond and so is Daniel Craig. Daniel Craig's not trying to take over Sean Connery. You get into the Batman, Spiderman...Conan was out 30 years ago. You don't need to compare. There's a whole different perspective. There's 25-year-old men that didn't see it [the original]. It's a whole other group of people. And it's a fantastic character to play. I love playing him because he's not the super hero. He doesn't have any special powers. He ... [was] raised by wolves in the forest. He's a natural warrior. He's a man. And men follow this guy. He's a general. He's a soldier. He's a warrior. And the fact he loves to drink and f*ck and do what he wants to. I like that. I like the fact that he's a bad guy and a good guy. He's ultimate to me. I'd love to do [Conan] 2 and 3 and I think people will like it.
AOL LATINO: Are you worried about being typecast?
JASON MOMOA: Not really because I write. I just wrote my second movie. I got financing for it. I'm going to direct, and I want to be behind the camera. I know what's on the inside. I know that I'm funny and charming.
Khal Drogo was amazing, and I wouldn't want to be anybody but Conan. I don't want to be Superman. I don't want to be Batman. ... He's [Conan] amazing to me, so, no I don't feel like I'm going to be typecast. If I am, well, I'm having fun. I don't want to be a lawyer right now. I would not want to be in some courtroom. I'm a big kid. I enjoy it right now.
But having said that, I want to be behind the camera. I want to show my art in other ways. So, it's fine to do these big ones [movies], and then go do the $5 million ones I get to direct and go make my own art with my friends. The world hasn't seen that, but they'll get a sucker punch coming up soon enough, though.
AOL LATINO: Tell us a little bit about 'Road to Paloma' and 'Brownbag Diaries'
JASON MOMOA: Brownbag Diaries I created about 10 years ago. I started a company called Pride of Gypsies, which is basically...I have tons of amazing writers, friends, directors, actors...and we all go out and shoot movies. That's what we want to do. We love to tell stories. Stories, at the end of the day, is what it's all about. You sit by a fire. I can sit and listen to Tom Waits tell me a story by campfire that's better than any movie I've ever seen. I want to capture that.
Now, I'm a visual artist. Both my parents are painters. Composition. Visual artist, through and through. If you have a great story, and great actors you put into it, well then you've got yourself a stew right there.
I've been in this business 12 or 13 years and I'm constantly obsessed with the art form of making movies. You've got music, visual arts, story-telling. And in acting it's all the arts to tell and put up there. As an actor you'll run out of faces. Sometimes you'll do stuff you don't want to do. It's puts you down. I really want to create art. I want to move people. I want to go to the movie theater, sit down when it gets dark, and when I come out I want to change a little bit of my perspective on life. I love that form of it. These are like escape movies. It's fun. You go there and get out of the world that you're in. You get to drift away. I like [doing] movies where I can change a person's point of view. And that's what 'Paloma' is for me. Acting's not enough. I want to be behind the camera. I want to wear the many hats and obsess about it and make my true art.
It's like when I paint or when I play music, it's me, by myself, standing alone, [creating] a product and putting it out for everyone. And I'd rather keep my films small so that I don't have a billion people in on it. I'd rather it run Sundance. I'm not in it for making money. This one [Conan] is the one to make money. And I have fun. But at the end of the day, I want to leave my art.
And 'Paloma' is very much a road move, a revenge story. I wrote it myself about what's going on in the Native American reservations. There's a lot of rape going on there. ... If a white man was to come on an Indian reservation and rape a woman and they were to catch him...it still has to go to federal court. Federal courts are too busy dealing with terrorism. Seventy-five percent of all these cases are getting thrown out [of court]. ... Tribal law cannot prosecute anyone on tribal land. ... I'm married. I have a wife. I have a mother and two children. My mother gets raped and she gets put into a coma. And they catch the guy. He goes to court, and he gets released. We pick up the movie from right there.
What if someone hurts your family? I'm gonna eat'em. I'm gonna ... kill them. And when I do that, what happens? I'm either on the run, or I'm going to die, or I'm going to prison. It's basically about the deconstruction of a man and the construction of another man. He comes back back after like 6 months and his mother has passed. And it's called 'Road to Paloma' because he's taking her ashes back to their home reservation. And on the way he's basically giving out last beautiful parts of his heart, his wings.
At any given moment a man or a woman can be a saint. They can be changing their perspective on what they were ... and also giving and listening and basically see him and all the people that he meets on the road, and he's basically giving out his soul. At the same time the FBI [is chasing him]. And there's another character, and he's basically adapting and reconstructing his life by the examples that this other guy is setting.
AOL LATINO: A lot of girls want to know: Are you married?
JASON MOMOA: Oh yeah!
AOL LATINO: Happily?
JASON MOMOA: Oh yeah, happily married with two children.
AOL LATINO: Conan's lost his mom, lost his dad. Have you had anything like that in your life?
JASON MOMOA: You know what, I haven't had that yet. I had grandparents die when I was very young, but I haven't. One of the things I pitched to Lionsgate that would sort of make me rise above some of the other guys is that I am a father. And I think that once you become a father, it raises it to a whole other bar of what living ... dying for is. I haven't had any major loss but I wouldn't know what it would be like to be Conan and to have those babies that I love so much, my hearts, taken away from, so. For that to go into my imagination to use it as an actor, I think I have a little bit more than the rest, maybe.
AOL LATINO: Are there any actors you respect and admire?
JASON MOMOA: Yeah, absolutely. Johnny Depp ... is amazing. Marlon Brando. Gary Oldman is probably one of my favorites. Daniel Day Lewis is a god. Benicio del Toro. Jeffrey Wright and Phillip Seymour Hoffman.
AOL LATINO: Is there anything that scares you?
JASON MOMOA: (Deep sigh) What lies ahead. Career, death. I think it's always good to have a bit of fear in you. It keeps you alive.
AOL LATINO: Humility?
JASON MOMOA: Absolutely! Keeps your feet on the ground.
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