In 2011, Jason Momoa made barbarian romance novels come to life with his portrayal of Khal Drogo on Game of Thrones, but the 6-foot-5 actor with the body of a warrior and the face of a Greek God is more softie than savage in real life. Enamored husband and doting father, Momoa is happiest spending time with his family and friends, exploring nature, advocating for the environment, and being an overall great guy.
Born in Honolulu in 1979 to a Hawaiian father and white mother, Momoa has strong ties to his island roots, although he grew up in rural Iowa with his mother. Traveling back and forth from the farmlands of the Midwest to the tropical island of Oahu, his childhood wasn’t easy. In a recent interview with InStyle the 41-year-old heartthrob explained, “I’m definitely a product of two very opposite worlds.”
Although it’s hard to imagine Aquaman being bullied by his peers, being mixed-race meant Momoa had a hard time fitting in, both in Iowa and Hawaii. A target of bullies in suburban schools and dismissed by Hawaiian natives as a “haole from the mainland,” it took moving back to Hawaii for college and spending more time with his extended family to connect with his roots and come into his own.
After moving back to Hawaii, Jason Momoa was quickly discovered by a fashion designer, launching his career as a model and actor
After high school, Momoa enrolled at the University of Hawaii to pursue a degree in marine biology. According to Biography, it was there that he was unsurprisingly discovered by Takeo Kobayashi, an international fashion designer, and he began a successful modeling career. Gaining significant notoriety for his good looks, Momoa won Hawaii’s Model of the Year in 1999 and at just 19 years old walked the runway for Louis Vuitton at the Governor’s Fashion Show.
Unimpressed with the glitz and glamour of modeling life, he lamented to the New York Post, “I got called ‘pretty boy’ my whole life.” More impressed with brains than brawn, Momoa told the outlet, “People are like, ‘Momoa’s got his shirt off again!’ It’s not funny! I grew up in the Midwest. I’m raised to actually think, to use my brain.” It would be that humble attitude combined with his charismatic personality and his “pretty boy” look, however, that would launch his career into superstardom.
While surfing in Oahu with his cousins, they heard that Baywatch was casting for their 10th season, which just happened to be set in Hawaii. The teens decided to show up to the audition, as he told InStyle, to “meet chicks,” but instead of spending an afternoon flirting with actresses, Momoa landed a major role on the series, which officially launched his acting career.
Jason Momoa struggled to find work in his early days of acting
When Baywatch Hawaii ended in 2001, Jason Momoa moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting full-time. Dropping out of the Marine Biology program at the University of Hawaii, the aspiring actor put all his effort into pursuing the arts, but landing roles in Hollywood was much more difficult than being discovered in Oahu.
He landed a few roles on TV movies, including Baywatch: Hawaiian Wedding in 2003 and a short lived series called North Shore in 2004, but Momoa admitted to InStyle, “I couldn’t even get an agent for three or four years.”
He got his lucky break in 2005, however, when he landed the role of Ronan Dex on the sci-fi hit Stargate Atlantis, which ran until 2009. He revealed to CinemaBlend that it was the role that helped him really learn the industry, explaining, “It was where I learned how to shoot, how to write, how to do it all.”
Jason Momoa married his childhood celebrity crush
2005 was truly an unforgettable year for the Game of Thrones star. Not only did he land the role on Stargate that would make him more recognizable and marketable in Hollywood, ultimately leading to the successful career he has today, but more importantly, it was the year he met the love of his life, Lisa Bonet.
Set up by friends at a New York jazz club, Jason described their meet-cute on The Late Show with James Corden, adorably recalling, “I literally turned around and I see her and she goes, ‘I’m Lisa.’ I turned around to my friend and I … I had fireworks going off inside, man. I convinced her to take me home, because I was living in a hotel.”
The Cosby Show alum was much more to Momoa than just a date, however. She was his childhood celebrity crush as well. In a story that seems more fate than happenstance, he told Corden, “Ever since I was like eight years old and I saw her on the TV, I was like, ‘Mommy, I want that one.'” He continued, “I didn’t tell her that until we had two babies; otherwise, I’d be creepy and weird. But, yeah, just always wanted to meet her. She was a queen, always.”
Needless to say, the feeling was mutual, and although the couple has been together since 2005 and share two children that Momoa described to Men’s Health (via PopSugar) as “the greatest piece of art,” they didn’t officially tie the knot until 2017.
Jason Momoa is a devoted environmental activist and humanitarian
From ocean conservation to preserving the sacred land of his Hawaiian ancestors, Jason Momoa is an activist and humanitarian at heart. Just last year he shaved off his trademark beard to bring awareness to plastic water bottle waste littering the oceans. He explained in a YouTube video, “I just want to do this to bring awareness — plastics are killing our planet.”
Most memorably, however, Momoa touched hearts this year when he reached out to seven-year-old Aquaman fan Danny Sheehan, who is battling a rare form of brain cancer. After the young boy went viral on social media for his exuberance after receiving an Aquaman doll, the superhero himself reached out on Facetime in what could only be described as heartwarmingly wholesome exchange. Part of the conversation, which was captured on Instagram, has Momoa obviously overcome with emotion, greeting his fan, “Hi, beautiful boy! I have been hearing about you all over, from all of my friends, and I wanted to call you and say hi and see how you’re doing.”
During the exchange Momoa promises the two will not only meet, but they’ll ride dolphins together, which are Sheehan’s favorite animals. Just a few days ago, the heartwarming story was updated to reveal that Momoa sent the brave little boy a bunch of Aquaman gear, including his very own trident, and a heartwarming note that read, “Can’t wait to ride on some dolphins with you Danny! Love, Uncle Aquaman.” And thanks to the overwhelming attention from posting it all to his social media, the family’s GoFundMe for covering medical costs has exceeded $120,000 (via NewYorkPost).
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