The SundanceTV channel has recently started creating scripted original series and the latest one is The Red Road starring Jason Momoa. In the series Momoa stars as Phillip Kopus, a member of the New Jersey Ramapough Mountain Indians who was recently released from prison. While Momoa is better known for action-oriented work like Game of Thrones, Conan the Barbarian, Stargate Atlantis, and heck, even Baywatch Hawaii, The Red Road gives him an opportunity to show off his dramatic side.
He spoke to New York Magazine about why he chose to take a role in a dramatic series and how he prepared himself for the role.
Momoa admits that he wanted to star in The Road Road because it gave him the chance to change perceptions about him. He explains, “I hadn’t done anything like this before, really. I’ve never played anything like this or reached into those places as an actor. Being vulnerable, killing things that you love the most, hurting ones you love. So I had to convince them that I had it in me, which I do, I just never got the opportunity. Normally I’m like, gutting something, killing something with my shirt off, and grunting. I mean, people don’t know I smile and speak English. They’re always shocked, like, ‘Wow, you don’t speak gibberish?’”
Momoa believes that it was his intense persistence that landed him the role more than anything else. He reveals, “I sent a tape in, and then I went in and met with the producers and we just talked. We really got to know each other. If I want something, I’m going to get it, and I let them know that. I’ve never yelled at a script before, and I’m yelling at the script. And when you get to episode four, five, and six you’re literally going, ‘No way. No way.’ You’re going, ‘Holy shit.’”
To get into his character’s mindset, Momoa actually visited the native people of the area his character is originally from. He says, “I actually went to study with the Ramapoughs in New York. I wanted to be able to see the mountains and the forest, be around the people. My character, Philip, has been in prison for six years. What would he be thinking about? I wanted to have images in my head to reference. Being raised in Iowa, I know what a cornfield does for me, and I wanted to have that same kind of feeling for the Ramapo Mountains. He has to feel a certain way about returning home.”