EW – Jason Momoa rolls up on his motorcycle to a cafe in the Hollywood Hills to talk Aquaman. The 6’4″ actor strides in looking like an action figure come to life, ready to give his first deep-dive interview on the biggest project of his career: Top-lining a standalone DC superhero adventure chronicling a character that’s long been considered the toughest to pull off in the whole comic universe. Below, the 38-year-old actor details his audition process, the superhero parts he didn’t get, his personal connection to Arthur Curry, his quibbles about Justice League, the new film’s production challenges, and his goals for the future. You think you know Momoa from his roles so far? You might be surprised.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So, director James Wan showed me about 15 minutes of Aquaman…
JASON MOMOA: Cool, right? Black Manta looks great. Yahya [Abdul-Mateen II] killed it, so happy.
It does look great.
Were you a little bit surprised?
I had confidence because of James. And I was glad to see a lot of your humor in it.
I was too. It’s tough because you’re going from one filmmaker, Zack [Synder], who gave birth to it, to another. The new director has to be able to build a whole new world and set the tone. And James let me do silly stuff. He’d encourage me to be more goofy and then I’d watch [scenes during post-production] and I was like, “Holy s—, he kept that in!” I did a lot of stuff that I didn’t think he was going to keep.
I was thinking when you walked in there are actors can just put on a hat or sunglasses and no one recognizes them. You can’t go anywhere without people knowing who you are. Is that annoying?
Yeah, it’s fine. It’s part of the job, man. When people like you and think you did a good job on something, you deal with it. I embrace it and don’t try to hide. I’d probably make it worse to wear some silly hat. As long as they stay away from my children I’m a pretty nice guy. I don’t like my kids seeing me that way. So I try not to be rude, but…
James told me about how when you were growing up in Iowa, that your experiences there helped you relate to what he wanted to do with half-human and half-Atlantian Aquaman.
One hundred percent. I grew up in the Bridges of Madison County area, like one county over. I graduated with maybe 100 kids, all very much the same. I stood out. I didn’t kind of do the same stuff. I was a bit of a skateboarder, and I started rock climbing. I love Iowa, but I just didn’t fit in. If you’re a Hawaiian kid in Iowa, you’re kind of a fish out of water. Then I went back to Hawaii and I got ostracized there too. I loved both, but just made my own path. So I think it’s easy to relate with Arthur Curry, not really being accepted here and not really being accepted there. I definitely got bullied, but it was—