How Jason Momoa’s Past Informed His Role as Aquaman

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Actor Jason Momoa as Aquaman

“I might not be right for the story — I have a particular look, and sometimes I fit and sometimes I don’t.” – Jason Momoa

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Aquaman has long been the laughingstock of the DC Comics pantheon of heroes, but it’s fair to say that few would dare crack an Aquaman joke when standing next to actor Jason Momoa. Momoa has already portrayed the superhero in the 2017 film Justice League, and now appears as Aquaman in the solo spinoff movie, Aquaman. Moma spoke to Entertainment Weekly about portraying the character, how his own past informed his performance, and gives a hilarious to-the-point answer when asked how he manages to act as if he is underwater.

While Momoa grew up in landlocked Iowa, the fact that he looked and acted so differently than the other kids he grew up with helped him understand the “outsider” status of the half-human, half-Atlantian superhero. He recalls, “I grew up in the Bridges of Madison County area, like one county over. I graduated with maybe 100 kids, all very much the same. I stood out. I didn’t kind of do the same stuff. I was a bit of a skateboarder, and I started rock climbing. I love Iowa, but I just didn’t fit in. If you’re a Hawaiian kid in Iowa, you’re kind of a fish out of water. Then I went back to Hawaii and I got ostracized there too. I loved both, but just made my own path. So I think it’s easy to relate with Arthur Curry, not really being accepted here and not really being accepted there.”

Although being Momoa’s physical size is an asset for some roles, he discovered that some actors were intimidated about appearing in scenes with his 6’4″ frame. Momoa explains, “I’m sure some shorter actors didn’t want to be standing next to me when I was coming up. I was on a show called Stargate Atlantis with Joe Flanigan. He was the sweetest guy, I was his Chewbacca to his Han Solo. He was shorter and he wasn’t scared of that. He embraced it. He’s still one of my best friends.”

Of course, Momoa’s look also has limited him from some roles — including the behind-the-camera roles that he initially aspired to do. He says, “Everyone thought I was crazy, but I wanted to write, direct, and produce movies. I didn’t want to act. That was the first thing I told my agent, and he kind of looked at me and was like, ‘All right…’ Now I do that a lot, and I love it. I love telling stories. I might not be right for the story — I have a particular look, and sometimes I fit and sometimes I don’t. I like being a part of being the whole process, not just doing my acting job and leaving. I like being passionate about it, dreaming it up, seeing it through, selling it. So that’s coming true. A far as playing roles, I think after Game of Thrones it was challenging to get some work. Then we wrote and directed [Road to Paloma] that ended up getting me on The Red Road and that got me noticed. People actually realized I spoke English.”

At the end of the interview, Momoa is asked about his technique for acting as if he is underwater. Momoa pulls no punches in his response: “Pretend like you’re underwater. That’s the secret. Pretend like you’re underwater. Act, motherf*****r, act.”

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