Conan The Barbarian will be among the many personalities attending this weekend's New York Comic Con at the Javits Center. Well, not exactly, but the 6' 4" Jason Momoa, who played the sword-slashing Cimmerian in the recent reboot of the series that came out this summer will be there -- though maybe not with blade in hand.
When the massive Momoa stepped into Planet Hollywood a couple of months ago to leave his big ol‛ paw-prints and fighting sword there, he could have been any big brute with a cowboy hat on. But once it was doffed and he flung around his locks, the former Hawaiian clearly displayed why he was picked for Conan.
Add in a resume that includes playing Khal Drogo, a powerful warlord from George RR Martins' Game of Thrones or fighter Ronan Dex from Stargate Atlantis, and Momoa certainly has the right creds to handle such an iconic character as Robert E. Howard's Conan. And if you make it to Javits on this Sunday at 10 am where he will appear on a panel with co-stars Rose McGowan and Stephen Lang, you can see and hear him in all his rippling glory.
Q: This movie could have easily been cheesy, but it doesn't come close to that. What did you do to make sure it didn't go that way?
JM: I wouldn't want to be a part of it if it did. I didn't want it to have that campiness to it.
When I was a little kid, I would read Robert E. Howard and look at a Frank Frazetta painting and they would reach out to me. I wanted to take the character and rip it right off the canvas and put it up on the big screen.
It deserved to have the grittiness and the dirtiness. [Director] Marcus Nispel [Texas Chainsaw Massacre] was fantastic about it. I thought he did a really good job at making that world.
Q: It's great that he is an actual barbarian, not the typical hero...
JM: That's the fun thing about Conan. He eats, he drinks, he's a thief, he's a pirate. The fun thing about him is he's not the saving-the-damsel-in-distress [type]. It's not very PC, and I think that's what Marcus didn't want.
He should be this barbarian towards a woman, in a sense. But what's beautiful about it is you see the vulnerable side, and he gets saved by a woman in the heat of the moment where he was supposed to kill.
So you get to slowly warm up to him. I think that's nice to have a little bit of humanity to the character, a sense of humor, that makes him relatable.
Q: Actor Stephen Lang -- who plays the evil Khylar Zim -- said that he stabbed himself in the ass at one point with a sword. Do you have any similar stories?
JM: I've got all kinds of horror stories. I almost died on a horse a couple of times. I broke my nose. I wanted to make it look like he was more barbaric, so I had a buddy punch me in the nose.
Q: They have makeup for that, too.
JM: Yeah, I didn't think about that.
Q: So you're all into it.
JM: Yeah, Conan should have a broken nose. He should always have a broken nose, I think -- a constant flow of blood coming out of his body somewhere.
Q: When you were getting ready to play Conan the Barbarian, was there a different workout regimen in getting ready for the type of fighting that you‛d be doing?
JM: Yeah, we did a lot of Bushido, basically a samurai training. I wanted to incorporate that Asian gracefulness to this barbaric character; I wanted to do the sword work.
But as far as working out, we did like six hours a day, stunt work and stunt training, and it was how to fall and lift heavy, heavy weights.
Q: A lot of the fighting looks like a dance.
JM: Yeah, absolutely, choreography. It absolutely is a dance and I think that's one of the great things about Conan: he speaks through his movement and his action. That's why I wanted to do all my stunts, because he speaks through that.
I studied a lot of lions and panthers, and I wanted to be able to move like a feral cat. When I read those stories about him, he just comes across as that nimble product of his environment, kind of king of his own jungle thing.
Q: Were there any stunts you wanted to do that they wouldn't let you?
JM: No, because by the time it was the ones I had to do, I was so broken [in] I was like "Dude, you've got this one. Take it. Take it, please."
Q: What was the most difficult, the most challenging thing to get through?
JM: Trying to keep injury at bay. Like I said, there's a flow of blood coming out of your body at all times. For five months, you're always injured. It's just to be able to stretch and keep that motor running for that.
Q: Did you have any fears of living up to Arnold Schwarzenegger's Conan?
JM: Not at all. I think Arnold did a really great job. It's kind of like comparing Sean Connery and Daniel Craig. They're both amazing Bonds. Arnold's Arnold, and I didn't play anything like him and he really can't play anything like me, so it's two different perspectives, really.
Q: What's your thoughts on the romantic side of Conan?
JM: It was really fun. It's nice to see that side of him. I think, as a character, he's such a brute force that it's nice to go there, to see that softer side of him.
We weren't sure how to do it, because when we did Game of Thrones, it was so raw and passionate and at the very beginning it's raping and very barbaric. I felt it probably wouldn't be in the best interest to be doing that in this new Conan.
Q: Did you get to read all the books, the comics and all that stuff?
JM: Not all of them. I had six weeks to get ready. So aside from doing six hours of training every day, I did read a lot of source material, but I couldn't get through all of it.
Of all the comic books, I went to Dark Horse the most because that's what they tried to emulate, really, for the costumes and look of the world, I think Dark Horse was the closest.
Q: Of all the characters you've played, who would you like to meet?
JM: Drogo [the warlord] and Conan are great. I'd follow them into battle anywhere.
Q: With your characters on Stargate Atlantis like Ronan Dex and Game of Thrones, do you gravitate towards these warrior types or is that just something because you're 6'4" and huge?
JM: When I did Stargate Atlantis, I wanted to work and it was a great opportunity, four years of working on that.
I think when Drogo came along, that's a once in a lifetime chance to play anything like that. I've never seen a character like him in the movies or on TV. He's such a powerful, raw character. That role was the first time I've ever wanted a character in my life.
Because of that, the same casting director came on Conan so everything just kind of lined up that way.
I don't know, we'll see. Hopefully there's a rom-com in there somewhere coming up.
Q: Will it be tough for you to adjust to the cushy lifestyle if you end up doing a romantic comedy or something?
JM: Oh no. I look forward to it. I'm doing a job right now where I'm wearing a suit and playing a villain. I get to shoot people with a gun; it's so much easier. It's like , "Bam -- dead." It's so much better.
Q: Now you're now officially cemented in Planet Hollywood history. How does that feel?
JM: Really, really cool. Really cool! It's a trip. I'm working with [Sylvester] Stallone right now, so you walk in and this is his place!
Q: And you get to see him hanging naked from the ceiling.
JM: Is that what that is? What movie was it?
Q: Demolition Man.
For more stories by Brad Balfour go to: filmfestivaltraveler.com