Jason Momoa was only six years old when the original Conan the Barbarian debuted starring a newcomer named Arnold Schwarzenegger. Now, the Hawaiian born actor is headlining his own take on the classic character with Conan the Barbarian 3D — debuting in theaters August 19.
The key to any reboot of a franchise, especially one known for launching the career of the larger-than-life Schwarzenegger, was finding the right Conan. The actor had to not only look the part, but also make audiences forget there ever was another actor wielding the title character’s sword. “When we first met Jason, we saw everything that we hoped Conan would be. He has the imposing physicality — the confidence,” remembered producer Les Weldon. “There’s a sense of unbridled energy to him that’s essential for the character.”
Weldon’s co-producer Danny Lerner concurred. “I can’t imagine a single actor that I have worked with or seen onscreen that could fit into those shoes as perfectly as Jason does. He is a natural athlete. He has the aggression, the power, the energy needed. And when you actually read Robert E. Howard’s descriptions of Conan, they describe Jason exactly.”
Movie Fanatic shoots five questions at the actor, who recently admitted he has already composed a screenplay for a Conan sequel. Now, that’s talent… and yes, confidence.
Movie Fanatic: Where did your take on the character come from? Is it true that it arose from the drawings of Frank Frazetta?
Jason Momoa: When you see those drawings, they just speak to you. Our goal has been to capture the hero featured in Frazetta’s pictures. That was our aim.
Movie Fanatic: The training for this film had to be intense. You had to do your own stunts too. How did the training aspect fuel your characterization?
Jason Momoa: Conan speaks through his sword. He’s got to because he’s not one for words. So the sword training with Master Sensei Chad Stahelski really helped me find Conan’s core. That process really helped me understand the character.
Movie Fanatic: The kid who plays you in the beginning of the film is you in many ways. It’s kind of scary. Did you cross paths in order to get on the same page?
Jason Momoa: We’d look at each other. We had to just get down the walk. It’s the way he stalks people. Conan’s kind of like the lion, the wolf, and the panther. The eyes and the eyebrows, and he totally got it.
Movie Fanatic: We spoke to Conan director Marcus Nispel (interview premiering tomorrow!) and he said he grew up a Conan the Barbarian fan. How did you find him as a director helming a reboot?
Jason Momoa: Marcus has a need to do this movie in a way that will blow his own mind [laughs] and so hopefully blow the minds of the viewers.
Movie Fanatic: You also star in Game of Thrones. Do you think it helped you get the Conan part?
Jason Momoa: I guess you could say it was more of a coincidence than anything else. This Conan project wasn’t something that I was actively looking for — circumstance led me to it. Actually, I got Conan because of Game of Thrones. With Game of Thrones, that was something I loved, from the script to the source material, and I had to have that role. Once I got that, I was more than happy. Then the opportunity to audition for Conan came about, and I couldn’t pass that up.