He may not be everyone's favourite Conan but Jason Momoa, playing Khal Drogo inGame Of Thrones more than makes up for it as the HBO actioners big bad guy.Empirechatted to the barbarian about talking Dothraki, building muscles and marrying blondes.
Game Of Thronesis out on Blu-ray and DVD on March 7.
: I love her, absolutely. Yeah I think I'm closest probably to Harry [Lloyd] and Emilia on the whole cast. As for her she's ready to come to LA - she loves my kids and hangs out with the family and my wife. Of course that meant that some of the things I have to do to her were really challenging. You have to separate yourself, detach from that because I'm hurting my friend and that's a pretty horrible thing to go through as a woman. Obviously we had drinks afterwards and you really wanna say, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry." Those sex scenes are one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. You think it'd be easy but on the day you're doing it over and over and over in different angles and it's degrading and you're naked. And she has to cry and she's got to be in that head set too - she has to cry out and I've got to ignore it. You're not enjoying yourself doing that to someone while they're crying. But when they say, "Action" you've got to go there.Emilia Clarke plays your wife. She's petite and blonde and you're enormous and dark skinned. How did you guys get on in person?HBO push the envelope in terms of what is allowed - you will see some amazing things, murdering people and ripping tongues out of their mouth and pouring molten metal on their head. And of course it's an honour to be on HBO - it's so widely respected in many countries and their track record is flawless. So just to be a part of it you're thinking, "Yeah alright, I'll do it for free. Sure".What does Game of Thrones being an HBO drama add?I went to David and Dan and said, "Listen. There are no battles, yet I'm supposed to be the greatest warlord. But you don't see anything." There are so many different ways that people are killed in the book. So I was saying, "Come on guys. We've got to show his prowess, come up with something that's amazing". So we came up with this scene of me inflicting this wound on myself. I walk towards this guy who's insulted me, and he puts his Arakh [Dothraki sickle-sword] up and I just look at him. Then I start leaning into it so it's cutting me. You watch the blood coming out, and then he starts swinging at me. I'm just bobbing and weaving, no weapons and then I duck underneath and I take out my knives and I just drop them. I'm telling him what I'm going to do to him and he's like, "You have to kill me first" and I grab the Arakh, take his own weapon, rip it out of his hands and cut it right across his throat. Then I go in and I just rip his head back, grab his throat and rip it out and I'm just sitting there with his f**king tongue. The tongue was my idea. It came to me in a dream, funnily enough.Initially, we have to take it as read that Drogo is a great warrior - but he doesn't have many fights.It was hard. He barely talks at first. In real life my posture is bad - I'm a sloucher. To feel confident and walk around on set and be absolutely intimidating is hard because I'm not intimidating. I'm a goofball and I like to have fun. I'm not the strong silent type. I'll be joking around on set and playing guitar so to channel that, it was very hard.How do you play a warrior king - one who has to exude authority?It's interesting because everyone's saying, "Oh you've got your shirt off again. That must be hard" and I'm like, "Yeah well just wait man!" I actually gained 40 something pounds to play Drogo. He's supposed to be seven foot tall, he's not going to have abs - a king's not going to be doing sit ups. He eats, he drinks… he's a king so I wanted him just to be massive. I just drank Guinness, ate pizza, lifted heavy weights… it was great. I loved it. That's the biggest and fattest I've ever been. I had a lot of muscle but I also had a lot of fat on my muscle too. I tried to get as big as possible.Thanks. Did you have any misgivings at taking your top off, being cast for your physique?"I'm gonna rip your throat open and tear your tongue out of your mouth!"What did you just say?Yeah man. I'm talking to myself! Listen [Speaks in Dothraki].You must be one of the few Dothraki speakers in the world?When I did the audition it was in broken English. But at the table read David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] came up to me and said, "We've got this great idea. We've found this Berkeley linguist who's made up this language from scratch". I'm like, "Oh right". And they're like, "We just thought it was silly that the whole race had to learn to speak English and we should just make this little white girl speak Dothraki" and I'm like, "Wait does that mean…" So my first episodes I don't have to say much so I'm fine, that's cool. But later those big speeches are gonna be in Dothraki. They told me it was like a kind of German Arabic". I'm like, "Oh man!" I don't even speak a foreign language so it was scary and exciting. But once I got it, it was like this couldn't be done any other way. I'm so happy that I put in the work and that it came out properly.Drogo is not just another race, but he speaks another language. How did you come to terms with that?I had always wanted to be on HBO so when I first got the audition I was stoked. Then they faxed over pages from the book and I was like, "Wow this is challenging." There's all this broken English, all this dialogue and you're thinking, "What the hell does this mean?" So you had to research it. I looked through the book and I skipped through just to read the Daenerys and Drogo stuff because I had like two days to learn it - and I was hooked. And that was just reading my parts of the story. I've never, ever read a fantasy book but once I got the role I read the whole thing - it grabs you man. You get sucker punched the whole way through. I've never screamed at a book before, going, "What?!" It's that good.When you found out you had a further audition did you rush out and get the books?I went in and did the Haka! That's how I got Drogo. I wanted to channel a little bit of my Hawaiian heritage so when I went on the audition I was like, "Listen this part is in a foreign language. I want to try this thing so that you get the sense of this. Is that cool?" And they were like, "Oh yeah sure, whatever you want to". So the two creators [D. B. Wiess & David Benioff] are sitting in the middle of the room and I'm shouting, calling on the ancestors, preaching rape and murder… and they're just like sh**ting themselves! I don't think anyone's ever done that before, but obviously it worked. My heart was just racing, the amount of adrenaline that goes through you. It prepares you for battle. So it definitely takes the edge off when you do an audition, you're like I'm good. I can do anything now! Even Shakespeare!How did you get the role?I play Khal Drogo and he's kind of like a Genghis Khan figure! Obviously I'm biased but I think he's one of the greatest characters in the whole book. When we start with the character, he's this big intimidating, brooding, stoic king who takes Daenerys Targaryen for his wife - and you fear for her. But what unfolds, what's so amazing about this story, is that you start off with this character who you think is going to be very strong and he becomes very frail. You watch Daenerys start very frail and she becomes very strong. You see the bad become good and the good are actually really bad and that kind of richness of character is just good storytelling.Tell us about your character