Jason Momoa is an American actor known for tough and rugged roles like Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones and the title character in Aquaman. His unique look and physical presence have made him stand out in Hollywood. But how did Jason Momoa get his start and become such a recognizable star? Here is an in-depth look at the life and career of Jason Momoa.
Early Life and Background
Jason Momoa was born Joseph Jason Namakaeha Momoa on August 1, 1979 in Honolulu, Hawaii. His mother, Coni, was a photographer and his father, Joseph, was a painter. On his father’s side, Momoa is of Native Hawaiian ancestry.
Momoa was raised in Norwalk, Iowa after his parents separated and his mom moved to the Midwest to be closer to her family. Interesting facts about Momoa’s upbringing include:
- At just 5 years old, Momoa began rock climbing and earned the nickname “The Lizard” for his ability to scale walls. This early passion set the stage for his athleticism and fearlessness as an actor later on.
- He initially struggled fitting in coming from a diverse background in Hawaii to mostly white Iowa. This outsider status as a child influences his eclectic taste and style as an adult.
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|Born in Honolulu, Hawaii
|Parents separated, moved to Iowa
|Began rock climbing
|Studied marine biology
|Began modeling career
|Traveled through Europe
Despite not quite fitting the Midwest mold, Momoa played varsity basketball, baseball, and football in high school where he graduated in 1997.
Early Career and Move to Acting
After high school, Momoa initially majored in marine biology at a Florida college on a partial scholarship. But he soon moved back to Iowa where he was discovered by designer Takeo. This launched Momoa’s modeling career at just 19 years old, showing off his striking looks in places like Paris and Milan.
During this time, Momoa also worked part-time as a lifeguard in California where he tried his first acting audition…
Breakout Early Roles on Baywatch and Stargate Atlantis
Momoa’s initial success came on the TV series Baywatch Hawaii in 1999 at age 19. Being a lifeguard himself, he brought an authenticity to the role. This first prominent role led Momoa to pursue acting seriously.
He went on to play several character roles through the early 2000s before landing his breakout lead part as Ronon Dex on the Sci-Fi series Stargate Atlantis from 2005 to 2009.
As one of the show’s main characters over several seasons, Momoa had the opportunity to:
- Show off his athleticism and combat skills in fight scenes
- Develop his presence and acting range at a young age
- Build a loyal fanbase that appreciates his quirky personality
Stargate Atlantis proved Jason Momoa could carry a major television show – a key step toward even bigger future roles.
As Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones
Jason Momoa’s career reached new heights in 2011 when he was cast as Khal Drogo, the fierce Dothraki warlord, in the first season of HBO’s Game of Thrones.
This role checked several boxes:
- It aligned with Momoa’s proven ability to play an athletic, warrior-type character
- It relied on subtle, emotional acting moments rather than only action – rounding out more of Momoa’s talents
- It was part of a buzzworthy new show that exposed him to a massive global audience
Even though Khal Drogo died at the end of Season 1, the character left an immense impression. It established Momoa as a rising action star and sex symbol.
<strong>Quick Facts:</strong> Jason Momoa’s Role on Game of Thrones
- Appeared in 10 episodes across the show’s debut 2011 season
- Married to Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) – giving their relationship drama central focus
- His intense style of acting led to bouts of crying off-camera
- Won the 2011 Scream Award for Best Ensemble Cast
The years following Game of Thrones saw Momoa star in a series of action and thriller films including Bullet to the Head (2012) and Road to Paloma (2014). But his definitive starring role was still yet to come with the next phase of his career…
Blockbuster Success as Aquaman
In 2014, Jason Momoa joined the DC Extended Universe as the iconic Aquaman/Arthur Curry character. After initial appearances in Batman v Superman (2016) and Justice League (2017), Momoa starred as the lead in Aquaman released in 2018.
Directed by James Wan with epic underwater visuals, Aquaman was a major commercial hit grossing over $1 billion globally.
As the titular sea-dwelling superhero, Momoa achieved true A-list movie star status. He showed off his charismatic charm in a role that uniquely catered to Momoa’s rugged persona and Hawaiian heritage rarely depicted in mainstream American films.
The massive success of also quieted early criticism that he was “[just] some guy with dreads” proving his bankable box office power.
Away from the screen, Jason Momoa maintains an active life focused on family, fitness, creative hobbies, and causes he cares about.
Family and Relationships: Momoa began dating actress Lisa Bonet in 2005 after mutual friends introduced them. Bonet is widely known for playing Denise Huxtable on The Cosby Show (1984-1992). Despite being more than 10 years older, Momoa and Bonet share a bohemian attitude and many interests. They officially married in October 2017. Bonet has a daughter Zoë Kravitz (born 1988) from a previous relationship that Momoa has helped raise since 2007. Momoa and Bonet have two children together: a son Nakoa-Wolf (born 2008) and a daughter Lola (born 2007).
Fitness and Health: Momoa is known for his incredibly muscular physique at 6’4″, 235 pounds. He maintains this with an active, outdoors lifestyle. Momoa enjoys disciplines like Brazilian jiu-jitsu, climbing, hiking, skiing, and surfing. He also commits to exercise, healthy eating, and sobriety after some past issues with drinking.
Creative Pursuits: In addition to acting, Momoa has various additional creative talents and hobbies. He runs his own production company Pride of Gypsies focused on passion projects. He also enjoys activities like playing music, writing, painting, and even custom building motorcycles.
Causes and Activism: As a native Hawaiian, Momoa actively supports and promotes environmental causes in Hawaii. He also works to oppose controversial telescope construction through the sacred mountain Mauna Kea. Outside of Hawaii, Momoa utilizes his celebrity for other causes like justice system reform and defending indigenous rights across North America and beyond.
Thanks to Jason Momoa’s immense popularity following Aquaman in 2018 which spawned an upcoming 2023 sequel, he has a range of interesting projects in the works across various genres:
- Sweet Girl (2021) – Action thriller streaming on Netflix
- Dune (2021) – Sci-fi favorite as Duncan Idaho
- Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (2023) – Return as the titular DC Comics hero
- The Last Manhunt (TBA) – Period western film currently in development
At 42 years old, with his distinctive look and proven box office power, Jason Momoa is arguably just entering his prime as he continues rising higher on Hollywood’s A-list into the 2020s and beyond.
In summary, Jason Momoa has ascended from humble beginnings as an Iowa college student to becoming one of the most bankable and beloved movie stars working today. Key events in his biography include:
- An unusual childhood split between Hawaii and the Midwest
- Breaking into acting via Baywatch and Stargate Atlantis
- Drama series fame as Khal Drogo in smash hit Game of Thrones
- Headlining as Aquaman in 2018’s DC superhero megahit
Beyond on-screen success, Momoa maintains an engaging lifestyle as a family man staying active, creative, and involved in causes close to his spirit. With upcoming sequels cementing fan-favorite characters he’s played, the actor should remain an in-demand movie commodity for years to come.
Now in his early 40s with teenage children, his career is maturing with more wisdom and emotional depth to pair with the physical intensity he’s best known for. Momoa’s unique persona and path to stardom will likely continue inspiring adventurous, artistic souls in audiences around the world.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who were Jason Momoa’s parents and where was he born?
Jason Momoa was born in 1979 in Honolulu, Hawaii to parents Coni and Joseph Momoa. His father was a painter and his mother a photographer. His parents split up when he was very young with Jason moving to the Midwest.
What was Jason Momoa’s role on Baywatch Hawaii?
In 1999 at age 19, a newly discovered Jason Momoa landed his first major acting role playing Lifeguard Jason Ioane across 36 episodes of Baywatch Hawaii. This opportunity introduced him to the entertainment industry.
How did Jason Momoa meet his current wife Lisa Bonet?
Momoa and actress Lisa Bonet were introduced by mutual friends in 2004. Despite an age gap, they bonded over shared interests and had two children together before officially marrying in 2017. They remain happily partnered.
What is Jason Momoa’s workout and diet?
To maintain his impressive physique at over 230 pounds, Momoa commits to a regimen focused on functional strength training, outdoor activities, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and healthy, clean eating habits. He largely avoids alcohol after some past issues.
Did Jason Momoa appear as Aquaman before his standalone movie?
Yes, before 2018’s breakout Aquaman, Momoa first played the character in 2016’s Batman v Superman and 2017’s Justice League – establish his grittier, more action-oriented version separate from previous incarnations.