Jason Momoa Interview For ‘Conan The Barbarian’
The most legendary Barbarian of all time is back. Having thrived and evolved for eight consecutive decades in the public imagination – in prose and graphics, on the big screen and small, in games and properties of all kinds – Conan’s exploits in the Hyborian Age now come alive like never before in a colossal 3D action-adventure film. A quest that begins as a personal vendetta for the fierce Cimmerian warrior soon turns into an epic battle against hulking rivals, horrific monsters, and impossible odds, as Conan (Jason Momoa) realizes he is the only hope of saving the great nations of Hyboria from an encroaching reign of supernatural evil.
Adapted from the original works of Robert E. Howard and faithful to the mythology and psychology of his iconic character, ‘Conan The Barbarian’ stars Jason Momoa, Rachel Nichols, Stephen Lang, Rose McGowan, Saïd Taghmaoui and Ron Perlman. The film is directed by Marcus Nispel, and written by Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer and Sean Hood. Expect kick-ass fantastical shenanigans in abundance when ‘Conan The Barbarian’ is released in cinemas August 24th in the UK, and August 19th in the US.
How would you describe your portrayal of Conan?
Jason Momoa: My first experience of Conan was looking at those Frank Franzetta paintings. I don’t need to see a movie to understand what that guy’s made of. It just sears in your memory, when I was a child. When I read the comic books and Robert E Howard, just when I read that, those are my own images in my head and what I wanted to play – how I wanted to play Conan. I went and studied big cats, lions and panthers, to get the way they move, how I wanted to tuck my hand. And if you looked at a lion you’re sort of like, ‘Holy sh*t!’ You don’t want to make eye contact. I just wanted to have that presence in just the way he prowls and stalks his victims. And then I studied a lot of samurai films, I wanted to incorporate that, to take a broadsword and to wield it like a samurai sword was something that I wanted to do, so I studied a lot of films. I did everything, like reverse grip, and I just wanted to put that Asian influence into this Barbarian thing, bring some grace to it.
Did you have any overlap in your mind between Khal Drogo (Game Of Thrones) and Conan? Did you have to separate them?
Jason Momoa: No, no because I’m not that good of an actor. I don’t get stuck in it like Daniel Day-Lewis (laughs). It’s not like, (grabbing his face), ‘You’re not Drogo! You can’t go around killing people!’ I did the pilot first, but I did Conan first. Game of Thrones got me Conan, but I shot Conan first. And then when I went to do Game of Thrones, I just wanted to transform my body. To walk around like a king, is not very… In my house, when my wife says to do the dishes it’s like, ‘Yes, ma’am.’ To walk around with that kind of air like a king was a lot harder for me.
One of the great things about Conan is the dialogue is pretty sparse. He speaks with his actions, there’s very little dialogue. Do you get to play a little more with dialogue in this version?
Jason Momoa: Yes and no, but that’s one of the great things about Conan. He doesn’t need to be babbling on about bullsh*t. He’s like Clint Eastwood in that he just says what needs to be said and just does what needs to be done. And we do have some nice moments where you get the sense of the origin story. You see what he’s made of, how he was raised, how he was born on the battlefield, watching his father die in front of him, and that revenge tale. It also helps having a beautiful woman. It softens him a little bit. He’s got that underbelly. You want to see a little bit of that but at the same time he’s Conan! He doesn’t need to say too much.
You came to this with a knowledge of the books and you knew the paintings. But obviously what a lot of people know it from is the early movies. You are stepping into some big shoes. What is that like to know that people have that impression of Conan on film?
Jason Momoa: I don’t know….I guess one of my theories on it is that ignorance is bliss for me. I don’t really… I like Arnold, I’m going to go watch the movies right after this because it is such a huge impact on a lot of people, it is such a huge impact on a lot of people who might be slightly older than me, another generation – it’s so huge to them. I’m going to go back and watch. I think it probably needs to be redone, it’s been 30 years and some amazing things have happened in film, so I’m excited for those fans. I hope they love it. I mean, I know it’s big shoes but at the same time I wouldn’t have taken the job if I didn’t know I could crush it and absolutely make it better than what it’s ever been. They are huge shoes to fill. But I was really excited to see what Arnold thought. He really gave me his approval and loved it. I’m doing a thing with Stallone right now, and Stallone got to see it and he digged it. I was watching Rocky when I was doing Conan. Rocky, for me, that’s my one, I love it. I’d watch Rocky 4 and get amped up. So, I just hope they love it.
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