Dialogue: Jason Momoa, on Studying Samurais and Eating Raw Meat to Play Conan the Barbarian

Dialogue: Jason Momoa, on Studying Samurais and Eating Raw Meat to Play Conan the Barbarian

Jul 23, 2011

We were first introduced to Conan the Barbarian in 1932 in a series of short stories by Robert E. Howard, and since then Conan has become a bona fide cultural icon. While it’s hard not to think of John Milius’ 1982 original movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger, the producers of this new adaption coming in August are quick to say this isn’t a movie based on a previous incarnation of the character but a film based on an entire culture. And with a new chapter comes a new barbaric hottie, and who better to play him than newcomer Jason Momoa?

In a very short but sweet encounter we caught up with Momoa and the gentle giant was quick to add his two cents on learning a new language, his intense physical training and how this new Conan was inspired by Frank Frazetta’s paintings.

Movies.com: What was it like to learn a made-up language?

Jason Momoa: When I got the role I did it in broken English that’s how it was supposed to be. I auditioned in broken English and when I got to the cast reading they came up with the great idea of having me learn a tribal language. So they pulled outt his CD and it sounded it like “wakawaka” and “chewbacca.” [Laughs] I went up to my hotel room and grabbed a bucket of Guinness and pizza, sat down and I learned it like a melody. I literally had to sleep with it.

Movies.com: You transformed your body for this role. What was the process like?

Momoa: I did a lot of samurai training. I studied all these samurai movies and then went to 8711 which are the guys who’ve done Matrix, etc. they transformed my body. We did two hours of sword work and two hours of weight training and I ate raw meat and boiled chicken. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

Movies.com: How is this movie different from the 1982 version?

Momoa: I haven’t seen the original movie and a lot of people are upset about that but the fact is that my Conan is Frank Frazetta’s Conan. My Conan is looking at those Frank Frazetta paintings. When I saw all the pictures I wanted to be [that Conan]. [Arnold] keeps calling me but I’m just like, “no.” [Laughs] For it to go 30 years, it was time to do another Conan movie. It’s a really beautiful character. He’s not a superhero. He’s a man and a man you want to follow.

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