Aquaman star Jason Momoa: 'It's always fun to fall flat on your face'
Relatable personality traits, intense training and stunts which involved being dropped on the floor – Jason Momoa threw himself into the role of Aquaman. Georgia Humphreys finds out why this was the right superhero for the Game Of Thrones star to play
JASON Momoa isn't a million miles away from enigmatic superhero Aquaman, his latest big-screen role. Admittedly, the towering 39-year-old doesn't sport a trident and he can't telepathically communicate with fish or breathe underwater but there are definite similarities in their personalities.
"What's great about him – we share this, my wife would admit it – is he's instinctual," says the Hawaii-born actor, who made a name for himself as the ruthless Khal Drogo in HBO's Game Of Thrones.
"He will just run off the cliff and sort it out in the air, and if he falls on his face, that's fine; he will laugh about it and carry on."
He adds with a twinkly-eyed grin: "I think it's always fun to fall flat on your face."
Aquaman is an epic film which follows the adventures of the titular character – a brilliantly sarcastic half-surface dweller, half-Atlantean otherwise known as Arthur Curry – who first appeared in American comic books published by DC Comics.
As he heads off on a treacherous journey across land and sea with Mera, princess of the ocean kingdom of Xebel (played by Amber Heard), he discovers he must retrieve the Lost Trident of Atlan to become worthy of being a king. And there are some serious battles to survive along the way – both emotional, as he is forced to face up to who he really is, and physical (there are fight scenes aplenty...).
"He gets beat up this whole movie!" quips Momoa, a one-time model who was brought up in Iowa on the US mainland.
It made for an action-packed experience on set.
"It was exactly how it looked, it was a lot of training, a lot of stunts."
Of the intense preparation for the role, he says: "If we had to do a lot of stunts that involved a certain move, we would train for that. And generally just keeping your diet right; you've got to constantly keep the muscle up, but it's also for protection too because you fall down a lot."
Was there one particularly scary stunt?
"The first day of work, when I dropped through the submarine... You're going through a hole this big [he gestures dramatically] and if anything's out, it's going to rip your arm off.
"You can't see your landing. They drop you from the ceiling and they dropped me hard on the first one. The ground just comes up, boom, and you're just not used to it yet. So, that was first day!"
And that wasn't the only tricky part of the role. He starts laughing as he recalls trying to get his superhero pose right.
"James [Wan, director] was like, 'Go lower, go lower' and I was like, 'I'm wearing wet denim dude, it doesn't go any lower than where we're at!'"
There has been an abundance of superhero movies in recent years, including 2017's Justice League, which Momoa appeared in as Aquaman.
Butb if there's one personality trait that really comes across when chatting to the actor, it's how chilled out he is – and he definitely doesn't feel any pressure to live up to past superhero movies.
"I don't know if it's just being ignorant or not, but I don't really think that way," he says with a shrug. "I don't have that competitive spirit where you would go, 'I have to be better than this or that'."
He later notes: "I think it's nice not to have been the sixth Aquaman – I think it's cool to be the first one and maybe now kids will look at it and go 'Wow, brown-skinned superhero, this is my Aquaman', and it may change that forever. Or when I'm 80, it will be another dude come along, and that's cool too."
Aquaman was introduced to comic book readers in 1941, but the story told in this film, written by director Wan and executive producer Geoff Johns, was largely inspired by Johns' Aquaman comic from The New 52, a 2011 series in which DC relaunched its Super Hero line.
Wan, known for being at the helm of horror movies such as Saw and Insidious, is super enthusiastic about how right Momoa was for playing Aquaman.
"The moment you meet Jason Momoa you go, 'This is who he is'," says the Australian.
"He's so likeable and charismatic in person, you go, 'I want to bring that guy and put him on the screen, because if I can get that guy on the screen then he does so much of the work for me already.'
"And I think that's what people are responding to, how charismatic he is in this film. Yes, he's different to what people are used to from the comic book and the cartoon show Super Friends, but that's what makes it unique and that's what it needs to stand out from a lot of other superhero films."
When it comes to the appeal of the role for Momoa, he felt a personal draw to the themes of the film – in particular, the importance of family, and the unbreakable bond between a parent and child.
"I think a lot of people can empathise with that; there's a lot of children out there raised by one parent," notes the star, who has two children – Lola (11) and nine-year-old Nakoa-Wolf – with wife, the actress Lisa Bonet, best known for her role in long-running US sitcom The Cosby Show.
"Definitely that was one draw, because I was raised by my mother. She raised me, since I was born, by herself, so that was definitely a theme that I dug.
"I also feel like a lot of people believe in him and he doesn't believe in himself and that's something that I think can people relate to too.
"Just surround yourself with a great family because in the end, they believe in me [Aquaman] so much that I finally believe in myself."
:: Aquaman is in cinemas now.