There are a wide variety of actors that find themselves with more than just acting jobs, but instead thrust into the genre world thanks to specific parts that will forever give them recognition from fans. Only a select few have managed to score multiple roles like this one of them being Jason Mamoa. Despite his stint on Baywatch, it was his role as Ronon Dex that shot him to stardom but he didn’t start there. Moving forward he not only took on the iconic role of Conan the Barbarian in a revamp of the character but stepped into the world of Game of Thrones as the popular character Khal Drogo. I had the chance to sit down with this imposing action star to discuss some of these sure to be iconic roles, his career, and what’s to come.
Bobby: Was acting something you always wanted to do? How did you get started?
Jason: No it kind of fell in my lap. I was working in Hawaii when the TV show came. I went down there with my cousins to meet women and we did, but I also got a job out of it. That kind of changed everything, then I moved to LA and started going to acting school and fell in love with film and the movie industry. Now I write a lot and just directed my first film and am just passionate about making movies.
Bobby: One of your biggest breaks came with Stargate: Atlantis. Did they already have the look of that character in mind?
Jason: They did and there were three guys up for it that were all very different. I don’t think anyone was expecting what I was with all the dreadlocks, so when I showed up it was a little different than what they designed it to be. I think that’s what you do as an actor, you take it and try to bring them something they have never seen and try to convince them to change maybe. They obviously liked what I brought and I really had fun with Ronon he’s a great character.
Bobby: Yeah, he became the coolest character on the show.
Jason: Yeah he was a lot of fun to play.
Bobby: As someone who has been in the martial arts for quite some time I understand how hard it is to move when you have something hindering you. How hard was it to do the action sequences with the heavy dreads?
Jason: It was hard; it weighed me down a lot. I had them for like seven years and decided it was just time to get rid of them.
Bobby: I heard a story that you had cut them while still on the show was that true?
Jason: Yeah, they told me not to cut them, but I did which was the same thing with the tattoos. I would show up every season with something new and it would piss them off. They made a wig for me which sucked so every morning I had to have the damn thing put on and it was pretty brutal.
Bobby: When you take on a character like Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones that you know isn’t going to make it too long was it because of not being locked into another full time series or just a love for the character?
Jason: I loved the character. Once I read the book I thought he was one of the greatest characters I had ever read even in just the book itself, I had never read anything like it. I was just excited to be a part of it.
Bobby: With TV and film adaptations they like to change things. With the popularity of the character was there ever discussion to retool it to keep you longer somehow?
Jason: No you don’t want to change the story too much because he was supposed to die for a reason and sticking to that is one of the reasons it is such a phenomenal show.
Bobby: One of my personal favorites was your take on Conan. When you take on a role like that that is already well known and has the iconic Schwarzenegger version of the character and you taking a different approach to it, is there any hesitation to doing it?
Jason: I had never seen the original Conan before I did it which came out when I was like 2 years old. I was raised by my mother so we weren’t watching a lot of cut your head off type films, she raised me on stuff like Gone With The Wind and Hitchcock movies so when it came time I probably should have seen it in college or something, but I was too busy getting drunk and doing the college thing so never got around to it. I was a big comic book fan and grew up reading a lot of comics, so I knew of Robert E. Howard and the character so that’s where I pulled from. My biggest thing was to be true to the character and I think we did that, but with this there are a lot of different people to please with the comic fans, Robert E. Howard fans, the original film fans and also try to start new fans so we cut a lot of stuff out that would have been closer to the Robert E. Howard like lots of gore because they thought it would be too much and not get audiences in. It’s a hard sell to please everyone.
Bobby: Was there a plan to make a franchise had it succeeded?
Jason: Yeah, but unfortunately enough people just didn’t watch it.
Bobby: When you take on a different kind of role like Bullet to the Head is it intimidating to step onto screen against someone like Stallone?
Jason: No, it was really an honor. You know I trained for Conan watching Rocky IV and really love his old movies. He is a fantastic man and we had a lot of good conversations. I actually just did it so that I could work with him and get to beat up on my hero, it was fun. I think I would get nervous if I worked with some of my favorites you know like Jack Nicholson would be intimidating Daniel Day Lewis, that would be challenging for me. With Stallone I was like a kid and just happy, you go there and do your job and realize they are all just human.
Bobby: You mentioned you were directing your first film, can you tell us a little about that or anything else you might be working on?
Jason: I have a couple of projects one is called Road to Paloma and you can check out the trailer on the website we just opened at www.roadtopaloma.com and in June I have a boxing movie hopefully coming out, that’s what I am currently getting ready for.
Bobby: You are clearly in shape, but with all the action roles you have done do you have any formal training in fighting?
Jason: No I grew up skateboarding and rock climbing, but its fun learning all these martial arts, I really enjoy learning them now.
Bobby: So you just look intimidating and now you have to actually become that.
Jason: Yeah, I have to be that guy.
Bobby: I appreciate you doing this and good luck on your film.
Jason: Cool man thanks