EXCLUSIVE: The Refreshingly Honest Truth of Jason Momoa
By Philiana Ng
Could this be the new frontier for Jason Momoa? Underneath
his tough exterior and towering presence -- he stands tall at 6-foot-4 and is
literally built like a monster truck -- is a family man unafraid of being frank
and refreshingly real about his place in Hollywood.
Momoa has had his share of stardom over the years (he was Khal Drogo on Game of Thrones, after
all), but it’s a Canadian drama that’s breathing new life into the
model-turned-actor. In Netflix’s Frontier,
available on Friday, Jan. 20, Momoa plays Irish-Native American outlaw Declan
Harp, who violently campaigns to breach the Hudson Bay Company’s monopoly on
the fur trade in Canada.
For the 37-year-old Hawaii native, Declan remains “the
hardest” role he’s ever played in his career (and that includes Aquaman). Not
the most physically challenging per se, the character’s troubled past and
tragic family sacrifice was emotionally taxing for Momoa, who is stepfather to Zoe Kravitz and father to two young children, daughter Lola and son
Nakola-Wolf, with wife Lisa Bonet.
“There is a lot of pretty horrific stuff that happens, and I
don’t usually get those kinds of characters who get to go to those places,”
Momoa reflects during a recent chat with ET over the phone. “Being a father and
a husband, and when you find out my character has lost that and it’s the reason
he is the way he is, [and] when you find out how it was done to his family,
it’s a pretty horrific moment that I don’t even want to visit. ‘How do I
prepare for this, because I don’t even want to f***ing think about this being a
The moment he’s referring to takes place in the penultimate
episode of Frontier’s six-episode
first season, where his character is brutally tortured as truths come to light
about his heartbreaking loss. (The second season has already been filmed.) If
there is a silver lining to enduring the emotional pain, it’s that it’s done
through the guise of a fictional character, though Momoa understands the
strange dichotomy of reality and fiction.
“It serves as a protection for your real life, because it’d
be hard to come out of that stuff sometimes,” he concedes. “It was amazing to
go there. Obviously, I don’t want to live in that headspace. It’d be pretty
horrible to be in that headspace for a long time.”
Momoa had a hand in developing Declan to a place he felt
best suited his desires and strengths as an actor (“I had a list of things that
I wanted to play and do”), working hand in hand with co-creator Peter Blackie
to evolve the character into something more.
“I love being able to play the action, adventure, his
sadistic humor. I love playing a character that I can disappear into for a
month and a half, go shoot six episodes [of] while I’m shooting eight, nine
months on Justice League. That’s why
I loved [The] Red Road,” Momoa demurs,
nonchalantly referencing the anticipated big-screen DC superhero team-up and
his little-seen Sundance TV series. “I hope to continue it on and as an actor I
just want to keep growing.”
Though Momoa made his debut as Aquaman in a brief Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
cameo, there’s an unassuming quality to how he speaks about the upcoming
blockbusters that’s a bit surprising.
“I’ve never been on a big movie before. I did Batman v Superman for one or two days. I
just experienced Justice League,
which is the biggest thing I’ve ever done -- it’s beyond, it’s nothing to be
compared to,” Momoa says, almost unaware that his life could see swift changes
in a few months when promotion around Justice
League reaches a groundswell. “I only know what being on Frontier is like. I know all my crew. I
play hockey with them. I love the food up there. I can take my kids up there;
on Christmas once, we went skating. It’s kind of a f**king no-brainer.”
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He may look like a superhero and play one in the movies now, but Momoa believes his life as a husband and father won’t be dramatically different once Justice League and his standalone film, Aquaman, hit theaters. If there’s any hint that that aspect of his life is diverging, he intends on making sure it won’t.
“I look at my friends who have been in those movies and their lives haven’t changed too much,” Momoa says. “As far as roles and work [go], I hope great things come. I’ve led a career of having to take work to see my family, over picking and choosing, instead of ‘I need food on the table and I don’t know how I’m going to pay the mortgage.’”
“I’ll still be the same, as long as people are respectful,” he adds. “All I’m pretty protective about is my children, and if anyone f**ks with my children -- I’m sure most people can understand that. I can really care less about myself, I just want to always stay papa to them. They don’t see that version of me and I like that -- I like being able to keep it so I’m just papa bear.”