“My kids are always like, ‘Why do people always want to take pictures with you?’ and I’m like, ‘Because I’m your Dada, and you’re my daughter. That’s why.’ It’s definitely mostly because of Game of Thrones.”—Jason Momoa
After being thrust into the public eye with his role as Khal Drogo in the first season of Game of Thrones, Jason Momoa is now probably best known as Aquaman—or maybe for being the manliest man who ever manned. From the beard, to the hair, to the physique, he has the look that I’ve tried pulling off at one point or another. Minus the muscles. The first Aquaman trailer has got plenty of buzz going for the character’s solo film, and we’ll see if the leading man and the team behind him deliver a winner. For now, here are 42 facts about this imposing actor to tide you over.
Momoa’s father was a Native Hawaiian painter, and his mother was a photographer of mixed European and Native American ancestry. He was raised by his mother and spent most of his formative years in Iowa, before moving back to Hawaii to reconnect with his dad in his twenties.
41. Dreams Do Come True
I dream of marrying Daisy Ridley one day, but accept that won’t happen. But if I was Momoa, I bet I would man up and show my wife-to-be that I’m the one. Momoa has had a crush on current wife, Lisa Bonet, since he saw her on TV at the tender age of eight. He ended up meeting Bonet at a jazz club in 2005 through mutual friends (great wingmen). They shared a romantic meal of Guinness and grits at Café 101 later that night, and are now married with two kids.
Like the latest iteration of Aquaman, Momoa has plenty of body ink. The most notable tattoo is a half-sleeve on his left forearm, which is a tribute to his family god, or “aumakua,” from Hawaiian mythology. A family god is an ancestor who died and returned from the dead. The sleeve tattoo features nine rows of triangles that represent shark teeth, since his family’s guardian is a shark. Other tattoos include his children’s initials on his chest and the words “to always be drunk” in French on his forearm.
Anyone who follows Momoa on Instragam knows that his handle is “Pride of Gypsies.” The name is a nod to his production company, founded in 2010. The company has since produced ads for clothing brand Carhartt, a short film about Momoa’s family and the film Road to Paloma, which Momoa starred in, co-wrote and directed. Only time will tell if more projects come Momoa’s way. “Pride of Gypsies” is also tattooed on the inside of his forearm.
38. True Test
Although he may be best known for action or tough-guy roles, like Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones, Momoa is making a foray into more dramatic works. One of his upcoming roles will see him star opposite Alfre Woodard in the Apple Drama sci-fi series See. Momoa will play a “fearless warrior, leader and guardian,” so maybe the role’s not that different.
37. Care Bear
While Momoa has two children with Bonet, he is also the stepdad to Zoe Kravitz, Bonet and Lenny Kravitz’s daughter. Zoe appears to be taking her new stepdad in stride, attending the wedding that took place last year and sharing pics on Instagram with Momoa, complete with captions like “Love you papabear.”
Momoa could have been a member of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) if two other opportunities had worked out. Momoa auditioned for a role in Guardians of the Galaxy, getting to do his audition with Chris Pratt. Momoa won’t reveal what role his audition was for, but we’re just going to make an educated guess that it was Drax the Destroyer. He also refuses to reveal what role he met with the Russo Brothers (directors of The Winter Soldier, Civil War, and Infinity War) about. However, he did say he auditioned to be a villain.
Momoa is proudly Hawaiian and the fact that he is the first Hawaiian superhero on screen isn’t lost on him. Momoa realizes most Hawaiian mythological gods are water gods so he views it as a dream job to get to bring Aquaman to life.
34. New Heights
In true manly man fashion, Momoa is an avid rock climber, and his Instagram reveals his eleven-year-old daughter is also joining her dad in his interests and is likely already stronger than me. Momoa is also a friend of professional rock climber Chris Sharma, known as one of the best climbers of all time. Momoa got into rock climbing while he was growing up in Iowa, and then continued with his interest while studying in Colorado.
Momoa auditioned to play Batman in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), but nearly bailed on the audition since he felt like his version of the character wouldn’t be true to the comics. Momoa doesn’t consider himself white, due to his Native Hawaiian heritage, and felt like his version of Batman would have the same effect as an American playing James Bond.
Although he went through with it, Momoa played the character as if “some thug picked up the suit and put it on… jaded and sarcastic,” failing to get the role but giving Zack Synder an idea about another role he could play.
The beaches of Baywatch were home to Momoa from 1999-2001. The role of lifeguard Jason Ioane made Momoa interested in pursuing acting full time, but he says he had to work hard to escape the stigma of Baywatch. Being on the show made execs think he couldn’t act (still up for debate, sorry Jason) so Momoa decided to continue study acting and find ways to get into the industry. Even when he was cast as Conan in the 2011 remake, he was still shaking off some Baywatch stigma since people thought Momoa might not be imposing enough. The role of Khal Drogo probably fixed that.
I have been the guy who will pick up the guitar at a party and play the three songs he knows. Momoa can impress with a wider arsenal since he plays the guitar and drums. He’s also getting in some family time by learning piano with his daughter.
Although Bonet and Momoa were officially married in 2017, they had two children almost ten years before. Both have Hawaiian names as a tribute to Momoa’s background. Daughter Lola Lolani (2007) means “royal hawk.”
Son Nakoa-Wolf Manakauapo Namakaeha (2008) is a little more complicated. Nakoa means warrior. World of Warcraft players probably recognize mana as “strength/spirit.” Kaua means “rain” and “po” means dark; a nod to the weather on the child’s birthday.
Although he never completed the degree, it is pretty fortuitous that the man who studied marine biology in university is now playing Aquaman. Momoa studied in Iowa briefly, before transferring to Colorado. Ultimately, the need to reconnect with family led him back to Hawaii, and eventually to Atlantis.
28. Anti-Gym Rat
Prior to training for Conan, Momoa never lifted weights. His exercise regimen consisted mainly of running, boxing, surfing and climbing. Momoa views standard gym workouts as monotonous in comparison. For dieting, Momoa sticks to lean meat and green vegetables, with some room saved for Guinness.
27. In the Zone
When Momoa auditioned for the role of Khal Drogo he wanted to put some fear into the casting directors. His audition tape (still online) consisted of a haka, a Maori performance of movements and chants that was traditionally performed before battle. Rugby fans will probably recognize it as well, specifically from the New Zealand All Blacks, which Momoa is a big fan of.
Momoa isn’t Maori but has always loved Maori culture, stating he wanted to do something that was “beautiful and scary” for the audition. I definitely agree with the scary part.
26. New Grounds
Momoa’s directing ambitions aren’t limited to his own projects. Frontier, a TV series in which he plays a part-Irish, part-Native American outlaw, is scheduled to release a third season this year. Momoa hoped to direct one episode if the renewal came to fruition. Only time will tell if Momoa got his wish.
25. You Look Familiar
Due to Momoa’s distinctive appearance, he’s hard for any fans to miss on the street. Momoa embraces the attention, but is more cautious of his children getting too much attention from his fans. He doesn’t want his children to see him as a celebrity, so the nice guy act might fall apart if someone gets too close to them.
24. Career Trajectory
Despite the roles on his resume, Momoa is actually eager to do comedies. In particular, he loves Saturday Night Live and aspires to one day do a film like Robin Williams’ The Birdcage.
23. 0 to 100
Khal Drogo hasn’t been a regular on Game of Thrones since 2012, but Momoa still remembers some of the fictional language that his character spoke. During a 2017 appearance on The Graham Norton Show Momoa recited two lines. One translated to “You are the moon of my life” and the other was more Momoa-esque, “The rain will fall on your rotting skin until nothing is left of you but bones.”
Stargate Atlantis fans might remember Momoa as Ronon Dex on the show, and fondly remember the dreadlocks. Momoa grew his hair out and kept the dreadlocks for seven years. Since the hair weighed five pounds, Momoa asked if he could cut it off between seasons four and five. The crew originally kept his dreads and sewed them back on, but the painful process took nine hours. Momoa endured one day with the sewed dreadlocks and the show switched to a $10,000 custom wig afterwards.
21. King of the Seas
Momoa may just be the real life aquaman, since he became the youngest lifeguard in the Gulf Coast when he was in his teens.
Momoa is currently working on another script. Back in 2014 he said it would take about five years before he’s ready to make it, but that timeline is likely pushed up now that life is busier with Aquaman. Momoa’s next creation will be a late 1800s historical drama that he describes as “Braveheart or Last of the Mohicans for Hawaiians.”
19. When the Levee Breaks
Momoa’s love of guitar led him to start his own collection, which includes a 1959 Gibson Les Paul previously owned by Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page. The guitar is a gift that he gave himself for earning the role of Aquaman. According to Momoa, there are only 100 of that particular guitar left in the world and he has number nine. With the paycheck that I’m sure he gets to be the lead in a superhero movie, I’m sure he can afford to splurge just a little bit.
18. National Hero
Between being a lifeguard and playing a lifeguard on Baywatch, Momoa had lots of time to show off his body, and it clearly paid off: he became Hawaii’s Model of the Year in 1999.
17. New Tricks
Jason Momoa likes using downtime on set to learn new skills. During filming for Stargate Atlantis he learned slide guitar, and he recently began working on bass so that he could jam with his Aquaman co-star Patrick Wilson, who plays drums. Momoa’s excitement to learn bass was obvious after he played one of the songs he’s learned so far: “Look at this thing man! This is so f***ing bada*ss!”
16. Close to Home
Momoa’s directorial debut, Road to Paloma shows Momoa portraying a Native biker who is on the run after avenging his mother’s rape and murder. The film focuses on violence committed against Native women, since they are 2.5 times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than any other group of women in the US.
Momoa visited Tibet when he was younger in order to study Buddhist teachings. He has since become a Buddhist, meditating daily. After all, he needs to revert back to a calm mental state after spending his days intimidating people.
Lisa Bonet served as Momoa’s on-screen love interest in Road to Paloma. Although Momoa always wanted to work with Bonet, he admits that her presence on set made him nervous.
13. Think of the Children
While Momoa likes the character, he was also excited to do Aquaman since it is one of his few roles his kids can see him in.
Someday, they’ll be able to watch Conan or Game of Thrones but for now, they can see Dad as a superhero in the Justice League.
One of Momoa’s main past times is pastel painting, which he picked up while traveling through Paris. Momoa credits his mom for his interest in painting and traveling, since her role as a photographer made her someone who was “always searching, always seeing.”
Fulfilling another manly-man stereotype, Momoa owns a Harley-Davidson.
The bike was a gift he received from a friend, while filming Aquaman in Australia.
10. Black Gold
His Instagram followers will know that Momoa loves his Guinness, and this fact wasn’t lost on Guinness. The company created their first sour, “Mano Brew” specifically for Momoa back in 2016.
9. Enter the Dragon
Momoa described Eric Draven, AKA the Crow, as a dream role. He was attached to star in a remake but the project fell apart earlier this year due to financial issues, mainly conflict between the producer and the studio.
Maybe it is for the best since the director of the original 1994 film, Alex Proyas, viewed a remake as disrespectful to Brandon Lee. Lee, the son of martial arts icon Bruce Lee, died on set when the gun he was meant to be shot with for a scene ended up getting loaded with real bullets.
Nicole Kidman, who plays Aquaman’s mother, was one of the few people who was safe from Momoa’s antics during the filming of Aquaman. Amber Heard had the habit of hiding in a book to avoid Momoa since he is “very annoying,” by his own admission. So, Momoa ripped out the last ten pages of one of the books she was reading. Guess he didn’t have the guts to do that with someone of Kidman’s stature.
7. Look and Feel
Momoa likes to keep souvenirs from his work, such as a prop tongue Khal Drogo ripped out of someone’s mouth in Game of Thrones. Momoa enjoys the visceral cues when working. While he likes the challenge of filming with green screen, he prefers filming in natural surroundings, “the rain and the dirt and the mud, it makes it easier to act.” In comparison, green screen is just months of looking and waving at nothing.
Aside from being incorporated into Aquman’s design, Momoa’s tattoos actually inspired the heavily tattooed look that some fans have complained about. Director Zack Snyder wanted Aquaman to have Polynesian tattoos since he realized the connection that Polynesian cultures have to water: The kind of connection that led Momoa to say “I’m Hawaiian bro” when asked if he’s a good swimmer.
5. Started from the Bottom
Prior to landing a role in Stargate: Atlantis in 2005, Momoa lived in an Airstream trailer in Valencia. Goes to show, don’t give up on your dreams.
Khal Drogo was known for being a pretty insensitive guy when Daenerys first meets him. Momoa has said that portraying rape on screen was uncomfortable and “one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.” We’re sure it was hard for Emilia Clarke as well, but Momoa tried to put his co-star at ease by wearing a fluffy pink sock over his netherregion, instead of the typical flesh-coloured sock. Momoa also tried to comfort Clarke afterwards with “lots of kisses and I’m sorry afterwards.”
Studios are usually pretty strict about avoiding leaks, from taking measures to thwart journalists or making sure their actors don’t reveal any important details. However, Momoa didn’t get the memo and recently spoiled the last scene of Aquaman. Momoa reveals that the last scene shows Arthur Curry becoming what he was destined to be, which we can assume is the King of Atlantis since the film’s marketing focuses on Curry accepting his heritage as son of Atlantis’s queen. Then again, that ending also just seems like the logical end of the story arc in the origin film.
2. Scar Tissue
Momoa has a white mark on his left eyebrow, where scar tissue now prevents any hair from growing back. Momoa got the scar in 2008 when a man hit him with a pint glass, and he would end up getting 140 stitches. Momoa suspected the attack was part of a gang initiation for the man who assaulted him.
Momoa puts a positive spin on the incident, saying it helped him to get more tough-guy roles.
Momoa decided that he didn’t look manly enough to play Conan the Barbarian, thinking that his nose needed some more wear and tear on it to really sell the look. That’s what friends are for. Momoa asked a friend to break his nose and his buddy quickly obliged with a punch.