Saying an actor was born to play a role is a tired cliché. But Jason Momoa was born to play Aquaman. The 39-year-old actor is half-Hawaiian; he studied marine biology at university and worked part-time in a surf shop before making his acting debut on Baywatch Hawaii.
It’s as though his entire life has been leading up to playing a human-Atlantean hybrid.
At 1.93 metres tall, Momoa is a towering hulk of a man. When we meet on the set of Aquaman at the Village Roadshow Studios on the Gold Coast, Momoa hits his head on the marquee as he sits down. “I’m kind of biased towards Aquaman,” he admits. “There are just so many things I relate to. He’s gruff, he’s a smart-arse. He’s someone who’s been in the dirt. He’s a blue-collar worker and a brawler who becomes this king.”
Momoa knows brawling. The actor got his trademark eyebrow scar in a bar fight in 2008 (a man smashed a pint glass over Momoa’s face, which required 140 stitches) and he went on to make his name playing the fearless warlord Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones (famously ripping out a soldier’s tongue in a fight scene).
Who would win in a fight between Drogo and Aquaman? “I’m pretty sure Aquaman; Drogo’s afraid of the water,” says Momoa.
Set almost entirely underwater, the Aquaman stages on the Gold Coast are an impressive feat: a sunken galleon ship with giant killer sharks, an ancient underground tomb and the cobbled streets of Sicily. “The stage is amazing. I pinch myself every day coming in,” says Momoa of the Australian filming location. “I mean, I love Australia, I used to live down in Adelaide [in 2004 when he was engaged to McLeod’s Daughters actress Simmone Mackinnon].”
Momoa is now married to American actress Lisa Bonet and the pair have two children together: Lola Iolani, 11, and Nakoa-Wolf Manakauapo Namakaeha, 10. Bonet’s eldest daughter is Zoë Kravitz, who starred alongside Nicole Kidman in Big Little Lies.
In a classic case of Hollywood-degrees-of separation, Kidman is now playing Momoa’s mum in Aquaman, Queen Atlanna. “I mean [Kidman is] just amazing. She’s a legend. My stepdaughter [Kravitz] worked with her. There’s nothing but good. Everyone gets along.”
This film has certainly been a family affair. Momoa’s children joined him in Australia while he was filming and visited the set of his previous Justice League film.
“That was a dream come true as a dad, to be able to put my kids on the batmobile. I don’t even know how to top that,” says Momoa.
We reckon an Aquaman trident would do the trick…