Odds are if you came across Jason Momoa in the woods, you’d probably start running the other way. Now, that reaction could be due to having seen him rip throats out as Khal Drogo on Games Of Thrones or solely for the fact that Momoa is a 6’4” hulk who could bench press you with ease.
So when the producers of Frontier were looking for the right guy to play vengeful fur-trapper Declan Harp, all it took was a visit to his home in the mountains of Northern California to convince them. Not only did Momoa look the part, but he also possessed some of the tools that were used in the 1700s, the era in which the series is set.
“I think they were a little taken aback when I showed them my tomahawk,” says Momoa, laughing. “I have a true affinity for that period. It really felt like the role was written for me.” The script wasn’t all that attracted his attention though; the series was set to film in the backcountry of Newfoundland. Having been raised in rural Iowa, Momoa grew up hunting, and delighted in the idea of getting out to the wilderness.
Now fresh from wrapping on Frontier’s second season and a short film for Carhartt, Momoa has started the training process for his next project, playing Aquaman in Warner Bros’ new standalone movie. The actor took a break from his trips to stunt facility 87eleven to discuss his experience in Canada, becoming a superhero, and his love for the outdoors.
For the character of Declan Harp, it’s losing his family that spurs his quest for vengeance against the Hudson Bay Trading Company. How much did you allow yourself to imagine what that would be like?
Getting into that mindset was difficult, that is for certain. I’m a father, and if anyone were to mess with my wife or kids, I shudder to think about what I would become. I wouldn’t really want to live anymore, but if I were to keep going I can imagine what that guy would be like. That guy would be going out for revenge. That is an interesting backstory to take on as an actor.
What did you think about living in Newfoundland for the production?
I think you really need to be in the elements to do a project like this. I ended up moving another movie I was doing to Newfoundland, so I was up there for about four months, including doing work with Carhartt. I will be honest, I was excited to go back there to shoot the second season, even though shooting the first was a little rough because of how harsh the winter was.
Did you find time to mix with the locals?
I absolutely made tons of friends. I met some beautiful people. It is like if Canada mixed with Ireland. It is an unbelievable environment and looks just completely magical. It didn’t hurt that I had all my friends up there with me as well. This year I found a bar that you can throw tomahawks in, so that was cool. It really doesn’t get better than having a beer and jacking axes.
Being in Canada, did you get on the ice at all?
It was a childhood dream to play ice hockey, so I was playing that with my friends. There are a couple retired pros up there, including Terry Ryan, who is a badass to play with. The crew plays as well, including the producers. It is unlike any production I have been on before, because one moment you are having a beer with someone in a locker room and the next you are back on set filming.
It would seem you have an unfair advantage, given that they can’t really pound on the star.
That is the nice thing for me. They can’t really hit me, because if they do, then they don’t have a job. So there really isn’t full contact. I’m not the best at stopping either, so I will hit them full contact and all they can do is give me dirty looks. I say I’m sorry, but they are never too pleased.
Did you ever find yourself putting the hurt on people?
My mom came to see me play at this old hockey rink, which I think has been there since the ‘30s. I checked someone against the boards and the glass exploded. I didn’t know what to do after, my mom was in shock, but she was okay. That is what happens when Hawaiians show up.
There is a lot of physicality in your roles, do you find yourself going into the gym all the time?
I really prefer to be outdoors whenever I can. I go on long walks with my Alaskan Malamute Wolves. Recently we got a donkey because my wife always wanted one. So sometimes I’ll go out with my wolves and my donkey. If I want a more intense day I’ll go out rock climbing to the Malibu Cliffs. I also have kids to chase, so that is a constant workout.
The Road To Paloma, which you directed, is an incredibly underrated motorcycle movie. Do you still ride?
I do all of the time, when I’m not in my Land Rover Defender Series 3 out off the beaten path. Funny story about that Defender. I sold it because I had to [make The Road To Paloma], and I bought it back with the money I earned from Carhartt. For bikes I have two old knuckleheads, one is a chopper and the other has a sidecar. I also have a few Indians that I am brewing up. I will always have Mabel, the custom job that my buddy Jeremiah from Love Cycles did. I will pass her down to my son.
Speaking of kids, I’m guessing they will love getting to see you as Aquaman.
I can’t wait for everyone to see what we do with it. Getting to [visit] the set of the last movie, and putting on the outfit is just huge. I just had this stupid grin on my face, because I never thought in a million years I would have this opportunity. Now I’m going to be in this role for a few years, but I couldn’t be more excited about it.