If you glanced at Jason Momoa and presumed he's the rugged type, you'd be right. The 35-year-old Hawaii-born actor, who cut his teeth on SyFy's Stargate: Atlantis and gained global fame as Khal Drogo on Game of Thrones, has an in-the-blood affinity for climbing, motorcycling, and even "living in the dirt." Burly in speech and stature, he's one actor who seems to live the persona he puts forth, be it in the title role of the campy Conan the Barbarian remake or in the Sly Stallone actioner Bullet to the Head.
But Momoa has his softer edges. This year he directed, co-wrote, and starred in Road to Paloma (now available on DVD), which highlighted the plight of Native Americans; he appeared opposite his real-life wife, Lisa Bonet, with whom he has two children. Momoa recently chatted with Details about his and Bonet's "electric chemistry," bathing in salt, what he calls his motorcycle, and those pesky Aquaman rumors.
DETAILS: You must constantly train your body for the roles you play. Do you have a typical workout routine? Or does it change from project to project?
JASON MOMOA: Yeah, it changes depending on what I'm working on, but I always do outdoors-type stuff. If I'm in Hawaii, I surf. If I'm in California, I rock climb. I've been doing that most of my life. So those are the sportier sides to working out. But otherwise, if I train for a role, it all depends. For one movie that didn't [get completed], I did boxing training and really really fell in love with boxing. I found that really therapeutic—to get punched in the face and to punch other people in the face.
DETAILS: You thought it was therapeutic?
JASON MOMOA: It's not about the fighting, but about actually being a sport. Plus it's fun to be pushed to the floor. So that's one of the things I've been into, along with throwing axes and tomahawks.
DETAILS: Is the ax-throwing for a role or just something else you enjoy?
JASON MOMOA: I just got on that therapeutic kick. I started shooting bow and arrows, and now I'm throwing tomahawks. I've been doing a lot of that lately.
DETAILS: Is there a specific role of yours that's been the most physically demanding?
JASON MOMOA: Conan [in 2011's Conan the Barbarian] was definitely the most physically demanding. Every morning, I had to literally crawl to the bath tub, which was filled with salt. I'd have cuts all over myself, and I'd need the salt water bath just to get my body moving, day in and day out. I wasn't exactly in pain, but it was definitely hard.
DETAILS: Just to touch on Game of Thrones, what's it been like being part of that phenomenon? It put your face in households everywhere.
JASON MOMOA: It was the biggest honor. I'm still very close to the writers, and it's all part of a family on this drive. We're all very close and we'll remain to be. Me and my wife are obsessed with the show, but it's a shame there's only 10 [episodes per season]. Every year it's the same thing: You have to wait a whole fucking 12 months to see the next season. But I love it. All my friends up there are kickin' ass.
DETAILS: Your most recent film, Road to Paloma, which you also directed, explored corruption and the mistreatment of Native Americans. What drew you to that topic?
JASON MOMOA: I found out what was happening on Native American reservations and it just made me sick to think this was still going on—where a non-native can go on and hurt a native person, mostly women, and get away with it. It's just fucking crazy to me as a father and a husband, or even as a son or a grandson. If someone wants to hurt the women in your life, and the law lets them get away with it, what are you going to do? That was interesting to me to—to have that happen to a family and then have someone take the law into his own hands. I wanted to show the repercussions of that and also bring these things to [viewers'] attention.
DETAILS: And you got to work with your wife, Lisa Bonet, on this film. What was that like?
JASON MOMOA: It was phenomenal. Fantastic. I wrote that role for her, and she killed it. And we had a really good time. There was electric chemistry and it was an opportunity for us to play different characters. She was perfect.
DETAILS: You also ride a motorcycle quite a bit in the movie. Do you ride in real life?
JASON MOMOA: Oh, yeah. That bike [in the film] is one I've had since I was 19. It was the first bike I ever bought—it was the first thing I ever bought, really. I got it when I got my first job. It's a '56 [Harley Davidson] panhead.
DETAILS: What's the trick to making a motorcycle last?
JASON MOMOA: Oh, just maintenance. I've had Mabel for a long time, so—
DETAILS: You said its name is Mabel?
JASON MOMOA: Yeah, that's her name, Mabel. I know that when she coughs funny, she has a cold. I just know it. I can feel it—that's my bike. It's just about maintenance, and love, and knowing your bike really well.
DETAILS: It seems you were born to be outdoors.
JASON MOMOA: Yeah, I grew up mostly rock climbing, swimming. I've been biking since I was 15. Before my career, I traveled all over the world from Tibet to Spain and Italy, and recently, I kind of gave up on the whole [acting] thing and just went ahead, spent all my money, and traveled abroad. It's been a really good three years on the road, living out my dreams with the money that I made from Game of Thrones. I came back and and buckled down, but I've seen the world pretty well. It grounds you to travel to far off places and live in the dirt. You experience cultures like a fly on the wall.
DETAILS: What's your favorite destination?
JASON MOMOA: You know, someone just asked me that. I think the next place for me is I'd like to go from Alaska to Patagonia on my motorcycle with my friends. To the bottom.
DETAILS: And you were born in Honolulu. Is there some pocket of Hawaii that people might not know about—something off the tourist path that's worth visiting?
JASON MOMOA: Oh yeah, man, but I'm definitely not going to tell them! There aren't many spots like that left, but I got them. Hawaii is pretty much where I'm going to spend the rest of my days.
DETAILS: So, the rumor mill has been abuzz for months about you basically being confirmed as the actor who'll play Aquaman in Zack Snyder's Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Is that something you can confirm?
JASON MOMOA: No, I can't do anything man. I don't know what you're talking about. [Laughs]
DETAILS: What's the ultimate role you want to tackle?
JASON MOMOA: I'll be doing it in a couple years. I wrote it [with a colleague]. It's kind of like my Braveheart. It's a period piece based in 1890s Hawaii. We spent the last three years writing this script and translating it from Hawaiian. It's a beautiful love story set in Hawaii. You might say it's a cross between The Proposition and Last of the Mohicans. I don't want to say too much, but I already have it written. Hopefully you'll be seeing it soon.