'Game of Thrones' warlord Jason Momoa talks season finale

As Jason Momoa was trying out for the role of mighty warlord Khal Drogo in HBO’s Game of Thrones, he read George R.R. Martin’s novel. He recalls his reaction when he reached the end of the book:

“I was reading it and I was like: ‘Holy s–t! F–k, I’m dead!'”

Indeed! Even as viewers were reeling from losing Sean Bean’s Ned Stark in episode 9, Thrones delivered a second heavy blow in Sunday’s season finale: The toughest character in Thrones died from an infected cut (helped along by a vengeful woman whose village Drogo’s army destroyed).

“When I read that Khal Drogo role, I was blown away,” Momoa says. “I couldn’t believe it was happening, I had to have that role. I was like, ‘Nobody is going to take that role from me.'”

Momoa had to learn the invented Dothraki language, which he memorized by thinking of each line of dialog as if it were music. Playing the stoic character was also more challenging than it may have looked on screen.

“People say it’s easy — ‘You’re just sitting there!'” he says. “But it’s extremely hard to be extremely intimidating, and say everything but not say anything.” (Read it again and you’ll get it).

The actor will be seen this summer in the big screen reboot of Conan the Barbarian, a coveted role that he says Thrones helped him land (the projects shared a casting director). He says he’ll miss being on Thrones, but encourages fans to stick with the show.

“It’s amazing what [George R.R. Martin] sets up,” he says of the novels. “Here’s your lead characters, you’re supposed to think about them one way, and you hate them, then you love them, and then they’re killed and it’s a whirlwind of emotion. All the little kids and even the smallest of characters just grow and grow and grow. He built a beautiful world. I’m bummed I’m not going back. To play Khal Drogo was phenomenal and I wished there was more stuff he could have done, I’m going to miss that character.”

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Comments (150 total) Add your comment
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  • Joanie 22

    We will miss you big guy. I am sure Conan will be fun and we will look for you in other action films.

    • Sunny

      Shoot! Watching Drogo and Dany (Drogany? Danogo?) was the best part of this show … followed by Tyrion, of course.

      • Dave

        I had no interest in seeing Conan and I didn’t even know the lead was this guy. He had such a badass presence on the Thrones that is exactly what Conan should have, so now I’m looking forward to it.

      • jmo

        I’m with Sunny and Dave. D&D’s relationship was captivating and I can’t get enough of Tyrion (can someone please give that man an Emmy).

        I’m totally on board for Conan because of Jason’s performance and Khal Drogo. Can’t wait!

      • Brittany

        I completely agree, Sunny

      • Aussiefan

        Dany just gets better guys. Never fear.

        She is my favourite character in the books. I always just hung out for her next chapter.

        It is just getting started!

    • CP

      Yeah, definitely. I’ll be watching Conan, strictly because I was so impressed by Momoa in GoT

    • martin r.

      Sure gonna miss you on that show. Thought your characture was gonna be around for awhile. Can’t wait to see you in Conan

    • Strepsi

      Jason, I don’t know how in 2011 you manage to continuously work as a Barbarian, but good for you! I thought that behind the muscles, you did quality, understated acting work in Stargate, Game of Thrones, and so yes I will see Conan too. Cheers/.

    • Phong

      it’s like the essence of Conan. The wdbraore in this is really pulled from the Dark Horse Comics. Obviously the poster looks like the Frank Frazetta painting. We pulled from some of the comics – some do Robert E. Howard’s stories, some do their own. We pulled from a little bit of everything.What three words best describe Conan to you?Live. Love. Slay, baby. Live. Love. Slay!The movie comes out on August 24. A new ‘ultra-violent, 30-second gore trailer’ for Conan has been unveiled exclusively on Facebook. Three screenshots are featured below to give you an idea how blood-drenched it is, and you can view the trailer .Official description:The colossal legend that is Conan the Barbarian is back this Summer. Having thrived and evolved for eight decades in the public imagination – in prose and graphics, on the big screen and small – Conan’s exploits in the Hyborian Age now come alive like never before.Shot in 3D, the reimagining of one man’s mythical battle for revenge is finally here in this Epic action-adventure film. Directed By Marcus Nispel, starring Jason Momoa as Conan, plus Rachel Nichols, Stephen Lang, Rose McGowan, Said Taghmaoui and Ron Perlman.a0

  • Michelle

    Jason was brilliant as Drogo. I’m going to miss the big guy!

  • Kate

    He can at least have the comfort of knowing it seems to me Khal Drogo is one of the most remembered characters if not for what he helped changed Dany into but for what she names, I am guessing, the red dragon on her shoulder. Okay, having not read the books, I learned that somewhere, but I have this theory that while I know we spend a lot of time trying to get to Westeros with Dany, you hope she can hook up (either just ally or really) with Jon Snow and the Night Watch. As much as she might want the Iron Throne, she is probably needed more in that fight (of course, I kind of from last couple of episodes started wondering about her and Robb, they seem very alike).

    • Shaboing

      Writing while intoxicated – not a good idea…

    • Hoser

      Jon is her uncle. That’s just wrong, man.

      • Plth

        She’s his aunt, other way around.

      • Zeb

        The Targaryn family inter-marries. So its possible.

      • gauss

        wha?? …. she’s his aunt? Can someone explain? I missed that in the book (just finished the 1st and am three chap into the 2nd). Is there a chart anywhere that explains all these complex relationships?

      • mike

        uhh…what? No relation between the Starks and the Targaryen that I remember…there was a lusting which started a war, but no actual marriage or children…sorry guy, reread the books…

  • Tajah

    He was perfectly cast for the role of Drogo and did an amazing job conveying the power and strength of the character. I hope he knows how much fans are going to miss him.

    Best of luck with the Conan reboot!

    • kate middleton

      Agree. I couldn’t imagine anyone else as Drogo. Jason was fantastic. I’ll miss him and his character!

    • Drogo fan

      Yes I too was blown away by Khal Drogo and Jason Momoa’s acting. I always fancied him from Batlestar I think it is, and other shows that I’ve seen him in. He reminds me of The Roc in those Mummy movies. Now I can’t wait for Conan the Barbarian.

      • Drogo fan

        Correction, I meant, the Rock, and Stargate Atlantis. BTW, Lisa Bonet is one lucky woman. That man (Momoa) is so yummy!

  • Gabi

    Strangely enough, I -literally- cried Drogo’s (WTH?) death as I didn’t Ned Stark’s. Some people are saying that Ned’s death is a catalyst for something big, but right now, Drogo’s death (even with the WTH? factor surrounding it) is what makes more sense to me, (sobs) for what came of it later.

    I suppose that we will see more consequences of Ned’s death later.

    • Alexia

      “Ned’s death is a catalyst for something big” Yes, his capture is what starts the war of the Five Kings but S**t hits the fan when he gets killed.

      • Tell Me

        @Steve, below: Which do you favor? Your tongue or your hands?

      • mike

        yep…peace between Lannister and Stark was possible with him alive…not anymore!!!

    • Debbie

      Even though I knew he was going to die (read the books ages ago) I still cried. Jason was the perfect Drago! I do wish they had put in the scene where Dany sees him on his horse giving her a smile before he rides off after his final death.

      • Renee

        Me too, Debbie!

  • Steve

    The show is so bad, I’d want to be killed off at the end to end my suffering thru the entire ordeal!

    • Here & There

      We want to kill & remove your idiotic comment. This is one of the very best shows on TV, recent and past.

    • Chris

      Fail troll is fail.

    • Catherine


    • Airchinapilot

      obvious troll is obvious

      • Itsisknown

        It is known

    • Crystal

      Yet, you make time to comment…

    • Miresnare

      Obvious troll, but the obvious answer is: –

      Don’t watch it?

      Hell, I know “Dancing On Ice” or the endless UK soap operas aren’t for me. Therefore I don’t wqatch them. I’m happy, they’re happy. Simple.

    • Rick

      Shagga will end your suffering after he cuts off your manhood and feeds it to the goats.

      • longtimefan

        we have no goats, Shagga…

      • el duque

        that’s a win rick

    • ERIK w a K

      If i think a show is bad, i stop watching after the first episode, like “Flashforward”. I’ve waited my whole life for a show like this and Game of Thrones is the BEST show on tv.

  • Mary Grant

    I cried really hard when Ned Stark lost his head but even harder when Khal Drogo was killed mercifully by the “Moon of his life” Dany. Jason Momoa, I can;t wait to see you in Conan…you are the most beautiful man on the planet!

    • Sunny

      He is very sexy. I wish he could encourage his fellow Samoans to adopt his diet and exercise regimen, because they are in horrible shape – physically, and healthwise.

      • Cherbie

        Why don’t you tell Dwayne Johnson “The Rock” to whip his fellow Samoans into shape? Jason Momoa is Hawaiian.

      • ok

        Ok, then Momoa needs to whip his fellow Hawaiians into shape. the have bad diets and health as well

      • Jacob

        Just because he has a surname like “Momoa” doesn’t mean he is from Samoa. Idiot.

      • Marko

        Well, all Americans have bad health and diet, so Momoa will have his days full trying to solve all of their problems…

      • cemetree

        He was born in hawaii and raised in IOWA

    • Ankhorite

      @Mary Grant, yes, ma’am, he certainly is!

      And his physicality was beautifully contrasted with the ethereal and petite Dany character. I will miss their interactions very much.

      Conan? Can’t wait! Drogo’s chest-thumping scene was faaaaaaaaaaabulous. I’m so sorry he was killed off.

      And by the way, I don’t believe his son with Dany is dead. I think we’ll find out that one of the herding women claimed him as a foster son, and that he will be back later. And then, if we’re really lucky, Drogo / Jason Mamoa will reappear in flashbacks! (I haven’t read the books, so I’m just guessing about future plotlines).

      And re the squabble about Hawaiians, Samoans, and poor health: it applies to both cultures, as well as several Native American nations. There is a genetic predisposition to obesity and diabetes, probably due to evolutionary changes initially meant to help these genetic groups during famines. Now, it’s not helpful. The problem deserves respect and compassion, not sniping.

  • James

    The Game of Thrones ends and the battle between the fire and the ice begins!

    • el duque

      They need to throw in paper rocks and scissors

  • Deanna

    I’m just happy I can see Jason Momoa almost every day on the SyFy network in tv show, Stargate Atlantis. He’s so good as Ronon Dex.

  • susanmarie

    I loved this show! What I didn’t love is Khal dying! He was more intimitating in body language and looking at someone without even opening up his mouth–and he loved his princess and she loved him.

  • susanmarie

    If Jason is reading this–I cannot imagine anybody else playing this role but you. You were fantastic! I had not planned in seeing Conan but now I will.

  • angie

    Sooooo excited to see Conan now. Momoa ROCKED this role, and did an absolutely brilliant job of, as he put it, saying everything while not saying anything.

  • Rhaegar

    We won’t forget you.

    Tihjinni anha astak asqoy atimae sethrasachi kash shieraki vitiheri assavasoon.

    • Bob

      Oh, how cute, you speak another “language”. Almost as bad as Troll Steve above.

      • Cynthia

        No need to be rude. Let people be who they are, and we’ll let you be the obvious jerk you are. If they delete my comment, I hope they delete yours.

      • Ankhorite

        Cynthia’s right.

        Does it increase your happiness to try to stomp on the small pleasures of others?

        Acid corrodes the vessel, son.

  • Gavin

    I started reading the series after the show aired and it’s partly b/c f Jason’s badassness on this show. I remember him from Stargate-Atlantis and he was very good on that. He’s been overwhelming convincing in Game of Thrones and I hope to see him in many things to come!

  • Petra

    I thought Jason Momoa was emblematic of one of the great strengths of Game of Thrones. The casting of the secondary characters was awesome! Jason played his character beautifully. He made Khal Drogo memorable for not just the physicality but the way he showed how Drogo’s mind and emotions ticked on things.

    Quality work!

    Good luck to Jason on not just Conan but his other future work in writing and acting. (And he is also a smart, funny interview subject..)

    • orville

      And it was great storytelling in that those characters (to those of us who haven’t read the books) never *seemed* secondary until the moment they were gone. It will be interesting to see who survives all the books.

      • greg

        The book was written from the perspective of certain characters, randomly rotating between Eddard, Catelyn and all their kids except Robb and Rickon (Sansa, Ayra, Jon, Bran), Tyrian, and Dany. So Eddard was a main character in the book, never was secondary. The reader never saw it coming for the same reason.

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