He was the fearsome warlord Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones, the lord of the oceans in the superhero epics Justice League and Aquaman and he made shirts optional optional at glitzy award shows, but even this A-lister knows about tough times.
Jason (41) should have been a star after his short but memorable time in the first season of Game of Thrones, way back in 2011, but when his character was killed off, the actor struggled to make ends meet.
He recently revealed that as his screen wife, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), was preparing to conquer the world, he returned home “completely in debt”.
Jason’s incredible performance as the brutal, monosyllabic warrior king won him many fans, but it was a blow to his career prospects, as for a long time after “people thought I didn’t speak English. They didn’t know I was playing a role”.
The only roles he was offered, he said, were “silent warrior types”, despite his many previous speaking roles in movies and TV shows, including the Conan remake, Baywatch Hawaii and Stargate Atlantis.
“We were starving after Game of Thrones. I couldn’t get work. It’s very challenging when you have babies and you’re completely in debt,” he told InStyle.
The actor is married to The Cosby Show star Lisa Bonet (52) and they have two children, Nakoa-Wolf Manakauapo Namakaeha (11) and Lola Iolani (13). “For a while afterward, a lot of people bagged on me. It hurt me a lot. People thought I didn’t speak English. They didn’t know I was playing a role. I’m nothing like Drogo. I’m like Drogo when I’m being lovey and close to the woman I love and being nice, but his other half is not me. But then everyone fell in love with Drogo when they re-watched the show,” he told Entertainment Weekly.
Reminiscing about his time on the award-winning series, Jason shared an Instagram post about not being able to return home to the US from the Game of Thrones set in Ireland during a filming break in 2011.
“So homesick. Looking through my phone I found this. Off the road some quiet parking lot in Donegal. It was an amazing simple moment with my best friend @captainriff While filming GOT we had a lil break. We were too broke to fly home so we rented a panel van aka UHAUL in Belfast and drove around beautiful amazing IRELAND searching for the greatest pint of Guinness [sic].”
Things picked up for Jason after he was cast as the superhero Aquaman, first as a cameo in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, then in the follow-up movie Justice League, his own box-office smash movie and another cameo in The Lego Movie 2.
Now, money problems are a thing of the past.
Jason recently starred in the Apple TV+ sci-fi series See, which is now shooting its second season, and he recently completed work on Dune, a new adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel directed by Denis Villeneuve.
Dune was scheduled to be released in December but has been postponed to next October, because of the pandemic.
When he first watched the trailer for Dune, and saw his name alongside co-stars Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem, he was overwhelmed with excitement.
“It was ‘Josh Brolin, Jason Momoa, Javier Bardem’, and I’m just like, ‘Oh my God. I can’t believe my name was with those names’, I feel like I’m still a kid, freaking out.”