The wait is finally over. It’s been four years since Warner Bros. Pictures announced Hawai‘i- born Jason Momoa as Aquaman, and now the highly anticipated release of the movie is just a few weeks away, splashing into theaters Dec. 21.
As it turns out, the story of Arthur Curry—the half-human, half Atlantean DC Comics superhero, aka Aquaman—is one that Momoa can personally relate to. “I was born in Hawai‘i and raised in Iowa, so just coming from two differ- ent worlds really, and being raised by single parents, there’s a relation there,” explains Momoa, 39. “Also, being from a waterman family (surf legend Buffalo Keaulana is his great uncle), there are definitely some similarities.”
Momoa hopes to squeeze in a special hometown premiere of Aquaman in Hawai‘i (nothing was confirmed as of press time) as he goes on tour to pro- mote the soon-to-be-blockbuster film. But there already has been plenty of buzz surrounding the movie, especially after the trailer released at San Diego Comic Con in July.
From the fierce Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones to the 2011 remake of Conan the Barbarian, Momoa is known for playing roles that show off his muscular physique. For Aquaman, he got into superhero shape with the help of his trainer, former WWE wrestler Mada Abdelhamid. “We really focused on, of course, lifting weights, but Jason really loves to rock climb so we were able to get a rock climbing wall on set,” shares Abdelhamid. “And probably the biggest part was diet, just eating constantly the right foods to fuel him while he’s shooting, and then letting those muscles heal from all the training he’s doing.
“His diet was a lot of protein and a lot of veggies, and normally as a trainer, I wouldn’t be giving so much Guinness, but Jason is an exception to the rule. He busted his ass day in and day out, and he got rewarded with Guinness at the end of the night.”
Momoa jokingly chimes in that he doesn’t need any carbs, but is like a dog that gets thrown a bone when he does a good job. And, yes, he loves his Guinness. The beer company even has two brews made for him, including one called The Mano.
Filming for Aquaman took place last year on Australia’s Gold Coast, and Momoa admits he hasn’t worked out since it wrapped in October. “[After filming was done,] I went home, ate my wife’s cooking and kissed my babies,” he says.
In addition to calling Hawai‘i and Iowa home, Momoa lives in California with wife Lilakoi Moon (aka actress Lisa Bonet) and their two children Lola (age 11) and Nakoa-Wolf (age 10). He also has a stepdaughter, Zoe Kravitz, from Bonet’s previous marriage to musician Lenny Kravitz.
A couple of years ago, Momoa released a short film titled Canvas of My Life showing him in his most important roles as a father and husband. It was a rare look into his personal life, as he typically doesn’t like to share intimate things about himself, especially in interviews, because he says he feels it never turns out the way it comes out.
A collaboration between his production company Pride of Gypsies and Carhartt Handmade Films, the approximately 8-and-a-half minute video is narrated by Momoa himself telling his story as a kid from “small-town America surrounded by hard work, cornfields and pigs, … raised by a strong single mother,” to his passion for the outdoors, including rock climbing, skateboarding, camping, art and music; and his journey as an actor, writer, director, producer and storyteller.
He touches on the struggle of balancing work and family, and ends with a pair of “tattered old” Carhartt pants covered with paint, holes and stitches that has become a record of his past.
“Finally they let me tell my story,” reflects Momoa on the video. “It’s not a very normal story to talk about. It’s just a pair of pants (which he still has), but I wanted to write something, make something look beautiful and tell my story through it.”
Momoa grew up in Iowa, but spent his summers with his dad on O‘ahu, and moved to the island after high school. When he’s here, he confesses that the first thing he does is head to Zippy’s. “It’s mandatory; automatic,” he says. “I go straight to Zippy’s and order saimin, fried chicken, rice, chili and mac salad.”
Hawai‘i also is where his acting career was launched two decades ago. Shortly after moving here, the was 19-year-old met designers Eric Chandler and Takeo Kobayashi, who have been credited for discovering Momoa. He started modeling for them and then was cast as lifeguard Jason Ioane on Baywatch Hawaii. A few years later, he moved to L.A. and eventually landed the part of Ronon Dex in the TV series, Stargate Atlantis.
Since then, his film credits have grown to include Bullet to the Head, The Red Road, Braven, and, of course, Justice League, the cult hit Game of Thrones and the title role in Conan the Barbarian. He also has gone from front of the camera to the back, and in 2014, directed, produced, co-wrote and starred in the film, Road to Paloma.
Currently, he plays Declan Harp in the Netflix Canadian-American histori- cal drama TV series Frontier. He’s also working on a TV show in Vancouver called See in which he plays the lead role of Baba Voss, and has been cast as Rico Rodriguez in the movie Just Cause. This spring, he’ll be directing another movie (title to be announced) with his other company called On The Realm. And there’s more to come.
“There are still many dreams,” says Momoa. “But one that relates to Hawai‘i is this: I definitely want to make this movie about Pi‘ilani and Ko‘olau. I want to direct it, and I wrote the story with my friend. It’s one of those things I will make in my lifetime.”