Tuesday night, July 8th, I’m going to host a Jason Momoa double header: a Meet the Filmmaker Q&A at the wonderful Apple Store in Soho at 5 PM, followed by an Evening with the Actor conversation and screening of the biker movie he wrote, directed, costumed, and starred in, Road to Paloma, at the 92nd Street Y. The first one’s free; the second requires tickets.
Momoa, as I learned at a dinner hosted by WWE Studios President Michael Luisi in Park city last January, is a very fun and accessible guy. Here’s my Yahoo dispatch from that feast:
Cross that one off my bucket list! Last night I had dinner with Jason Momoa, the actor who bedded the Khaleesi in some of the hottest love scenes on TV as the Dothraki king Khal Drogo in HBO’s Game of Thrones. The occasion? WWE Studios was hosting a dinner for a dozen or so to celebrate the SAG winner’s directorial debut, Road to Paloma. He also wrote the Native American biker drama, which co-stars Momoa’s wife Lisa Bonet and comes out in July.
Here are nine nuggets that emerged over steak and fried chicken at Butcher’s in Park City:
1. There’s no truth to the rumors that he was cast as Aquaman in the delayed “Batman vs. Superman” movie – but he’d be happy to make it a reality if he were asked. [Update: He's still not talking but in June, People Magazine reported that everybody's favorite Dothraki had been cast as Aquaman in Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.]
[Related: My Us Weekly Review of Conan the Barbarian]
2. Although Momoa, 34, was born in Hawaii, his parents split. His mother raised him in Iowa – Madison County to be exact. One of his high school buddies actually had a role in the Meryl Streep-Clint Eastwood movie The Bridges of Madison County.
3. When you’re 6′ 5″ and very muscular, ordinary chairs are too small for comfort – and he tends to tip back in them to the danger point.
4. Momoa has a number of tattoos – one on his arm said, “Pride of Gypsies,” which is the name of his company. Another on his upper arm just above the elbow is rows of black triangles that represent shark’s teeth – so that when he’s in the water, sharks will recognize him as one of their own.
5. His dream project is to write and direct what he calls his “Braveheart.” It’s a heroic historical drama based on the true story of the Koolau Rebellion, or the Leper Wars on Kaua’i. As Momoa pointed out, Jack London immortalized the relatively little-known conflict in his short story “Koolau the Leper.”
6. Momoa has two children, 5 and 6, with wife Lisa Bonet. He kept in touch while in Park City by talking on his phone with them while snowboarding down a mountain.
7. While shooting the first season of Game of Thrones in Ireland, Momoa had more than a few awkward moments. When he went to the local pub, he didn’t exactly blend in. Who was this giant guy with, as Momoa put it, a “70′s porn mustache” and eyeliner? He was just an actor studying his lines – in Dothraki – and calling for another glass of Guinness. By the time he returned to shoot the second season, the locals were buying him beers and calling him “mate.”
8. On February 27, the Sundance Channel will premiere The Red Road, a twisty contemporary noir in which Momoa plays a lead role as a New Jersey Native American with a mysterious past opposite New Zealander Martin Henderson, Julianne Nicholson, Tom Sizemore and Bonet.
9. Momoa, a big man with a big heart, gives good hug – and is the absolute life of the party.
When I’m asked about successful literary adaptations, Cronenberg’s 1991 hallucinogenic fantasy starring Peter Weller and Judy Davis is high on the list. Here’s a bit of the conversation between icons Cronenberg and Waters:
JOHN WATERS: Remember when we got to say, how did they ever make a movie out of Lolita? Well, I think with Naked Lunch you did a wonderful job, so how was Burroughs with you?
DAVID CRONENBERG:Burroughs was great. His public persona was very intimidating, and he was very sort of plastic and cynical, and kind of mean. But on personal time, he was really quite sweet, and very generous. He loved the concept. He loved the script that I had written. I did submit it to him but said, really, I don’t think I can make this movie just from your book. I don’t know if you’ve read the Naked Lunch, but it’s a difficult one to think of as a movie.
I said, I feel I need to incorporate a lot of stuff from your actual life…I understand if you don’t want me to, and in particular, I was talking to the fact that he shot his wife, which was a crucial moment, of course, in his life, but also as a writer. He said, I don’t separate my life and my art, and you can just go ahead….
JW: Did you do drugs with him?
DC: No. Actually, at that time I think he was just doing methadone.
JW: Oh, methadone. Got it. I smoked pot with him. Did you go to the bunker, or –
JC:: I didn’t, but I did go to Tangier with him.
JW:: Oh, wow.
DC: And met Paul Bowles, whom he hadn’t seen for seventeen years. I sat right down with the two of them, the authors of Naked Lunch and The Sheltering Sky, so there is a connection. [He looks out into the audience and sees Debra Winger, who starred in Bernardo Bertolucci's film adaptation of Bowles' classic novel set in North Africa.] Bizarre, but it is there.