On screen, no one messes with Jason Momoa. The actor has, of course, played some iconic tough-guy roles in recent years. These include Conan the Barbarian and Aquaman, as well as Khal Drogo in the immensely popular Game of Thrones TV series. But Momoa’s hardman image apparently crumbles when he’s around his actress wife Lisa Bonet.
Momoa has become quite the Hollywood action hero in recent years. His breakout role arguably came after he played Conan the Barbarian in a 2011 remake of the classic eponymous movie. Though Momoa is very much a modern star of the screen and has carved out a real creative niche for himself.
Yet in his union with Bonet, Momoa also enjoys life as a husband and father. This is one tough-guy movie star who is very different off-screen. In fact, Momoa gave some fascinating insights into the pecking order at home as he spoke both glowingly – and cautiously – about his actor wife. For her part, Bonet became a child star after appearing in The Cosby Show for many years. And her relationship with Momoa very much resembles that of a quintessential Hollywood power couple.
Joseph Jason Namakaeha Momoa was born in Honolulu to a Hawaiian father and a mother from Iowa in 1979. Certainly, the actor’s look suggests that he has embraced his island heritage. You could also argue that it has helped him secure some exotic character roles. Momoa grew up in Iowa with his mother, but he returned to Hawaii after completing high school.
Momoa’s first big break came when he secured a role in the hit TV series Baywatch. He also reprised the role of Jason Ioane in a follow-up TV movie for the franchise in 2003. Though in between, the actor sought some life experience and went traveling around the world. Upon his return, he then settled in Los Angeles.
Momoa’s next major role was that of Frankie Seau in the short-lived Fox TV series North Shore. Set in his native Hawaii, it once again allowed the actor to show off his brooding masculinity – not to mention his ripped physique. But before Momoa could become forever typecast in such roles, he secured a part in the popular series Stargate: Atlantis.
Momoa remained on the latter show for four years and played the popular character Ronon Dex. It was arguably this part in the cult series that shaped his future roles, as Momoa established himself as a budding new action star. After all, there was more to the actor than the toned beach body of his previous TV appearances.
The year 2011 saw Momoa’s career take off in earnest when he secured parts in not one but two iconic productions. He turned up at a casting event for the role of Khal Drogo in the TV adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s novel series A Song of Ice and Fire. And it was to be named after the first of his novels: Game of Thrones.
The story goes that during the Game of Thrones casting event, Momoa had actually successfully secured another iconic part at the same time. The character of Khal Drogo is loosely based on the figure of a Mongolian warlord. In order to prove to producers he was that man, Momoa choose to perform a version of the New Zealand Maori haka war dance.
The actor’s performance at the casting event reportedly secured him the role of another iconic character, too. A director there was also leading casting for a reboot of the classic movie Conan the Barbarian. Impressed by Momoa’s performance, they offered up that part to the actor. And filming began in Bulgaria just four weeks later.
Momoa’s star was by now making a dramatic ascent. The actor became an established Hollywood actor due to the part in Game of Thrones and his portrayal of Conan. But perhaps even more importantly, thanks to these roles he became a go-to action hero.
Since his run in Game of Thrones, Momoa has been in a number of memorable movies and TV shows. And in most of them he has played the rugged hero often found in warrior dress. For instance, his portrayal of Declan Harp in the TV series Frontier is a classic example of Momoa on screen.
Momoa’s acting career received another boost in 2016 following his performance in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Although only appearing briefly in the movie, it established Momoa’s part as Arthur Curry – better known as Aquaman. It was a role Momoa was to reprise in 2017’s Justice League.
Then, in 2018 came a standalone Aquaman movie – with a sequel expected at the time of writing. This is a part that Momoa has made his own and it has helped him become one of the biggest action stars in Hollywood.
Not many actors get as many seminal parts in their whole careers as Momoa achieved in just a few short years. Aquaman in particular has become somewhat of a ubiquitous screen legend. The actor even voiced the iconic superhero in 2019’s The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part.
There have been other big movie roles for Momoa, too. In 2021 he will be seen playing Duncan Idaho in the remake of the classic movie Dune. The actor has also appeared in Braven, Sugar Mountain and Once Upon a Time in Venice. And in another sign that he had reached star status, Momoa voiced himself in an episode of The Simpsons .
But what about when the camera stops rolling? Who is the man behind the action-hero façade? In a revealing interview with Men’s Health in November 2020, Momoa spoke openly about the man he really is. And the actor outlined how it contradicts with many of the characters he is known for playing on screen.
For, at heart, Momoa isn’t really a tough guy at all. And that comes as quite a surprise when you look at the man mountain with the long mane. The actor told Men’s Health, “I may look big and tough, but I’m not. I’m nothing like Khal Drogo.”
Instead, Momoa is very much the dedicated family man. In 2005 Momoa met actor Lisa Bonet – a single mother and the ex-wife of rock star Lenny Kravitz. As well as an established performer and former wife of a rock god, Bonet is also 12 years older than Momoa. When they first met, he was 26 and she was 38.
Momoa told Men’s Health that he was “a mess” when he first met Bonet. And he wasn’t sure if he could pluck up the courage to ask her out. The actor told Men’s Health, “[It’s difficult] when you meet someone you’re completely infatuated with and then find out she’s amazing, intelligent, and funny and she’s a goddess and you’re a degenerate.”
In fact, 15 years later Momoa admitted that those initial fears when he first asked out his wife are still there. And again, he’s nothing like Khal Drogo. The star admitted, “I’m not even the king of my own house! I’m absolutely terrified of my wife.”
The couple share two children: Lola and Nakoa-Wolf. Though again, it is Bonet who is in charge. The actor told Men’s Health, “My wife is very sophisticated and smart and [our kids and I are] kind of like animals that need to be trained a little better. I’m constantly a work in progress, and I’ve just been trying to get better as a father and a husband.”
Momoa is clearly dedicated to his wife and kids. Though the star is also a worrier, and he revealed that when talking about his daughter growing up. Momoa said, “I’m not going to do well with [Lola dating]. I’ll just hate it if she brings home some ******* bad boy.” Indeed, the actor also admitted that he cried when his beloved daughter turned 13.
What Momoa apparently hopes for is that his daughter will meet a man like he is. That is, someone who is dedicated to his other half. The heartthrob said, “I’m like, ‘If you find a man who treats you better than I [treat Bonet], good luck!’”
Momoa does have some rugged pursuits – he reportedly loves rock climbing, for example. But he is still no match for his wife, who is more of a Pilates and yoga connoisseur. Bonet has been trying for some time to get her husband involved in her physical hobbies, and Momoa finally relented – to his detriment.
“So I tried yoga the other day, and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Momoa told Men’s Health. “I’d rather squat a car. Climbing El Capitan would be easier than doing two hours of yoga. I can’t bend over anymore! My hamstrings are so tight. It’s pathetic!”
Momoa also recalled a previous time he attempted yoga, and the results were equally as embarrassing. The actor joked, “I remember one time I was all yoked out for Conan the Barbarian, and I was in a yoga class with these older ladies in Topanga and everyone was just holding their arms up and I was like, ‘This is so hard!’”
As well as a 12-year age gap, did you know that there is also a significant height difference between Momoa and Bonet? Unsurprisingly, Momoa is a gargantuan 6 feet 4 inches – the perfect height for an on-screen warrior. Bonet, on the other hand, is reportedly only 5’ 2” tall. Yet he is still apparently “terrified” of her. She has also been a source of infatuation for Momoa for decades – long before she ever became his wife.
During an appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden, Momoa explained that his feelings for Bonet went back many years. The eponymous host asked him if it was love at first sight when he first met the actress. And Momoa responded, “Listen, it was more than [love at first sight].”
Momoa said that he first laid eyes on Bonet when she was an actor appearing on TV screens back in the 1980s. Bonet was particularly well known for playing the role of Denise Huxtable in The Cosby Show. Momoa told Corden, “Ever since I was eight years old and I saw her on the TV I was like, ‘Mommy, I want that one.’”
It’s a cute story, but it also began what would become a lifelong obsession for Momoa. He told Corden, “I was like, ‘I’m going to stalk you for the rest of my life, and I’m going to get you.’ I’m a full-fledged stalker. But yeah, I’ve just always wanted to meet her. She was a queen, always.”
Momoa finally got a chance to meet his dream woman when they were introduced to each other at a jazz club in 2005. Momoa told Corden, “I turned around to my friend and I was like, ‘Ahhh!’ I had ******* fireworks going off inside man.”
We are often warned against meeting our heroes, as it can shatter the illusion. But when Momoa and Bonet finally crossed paths, it only cemented feelings that the Aquaman star had been carrying around for quite some time. Momoa recalled on The Late Late Show with James Corden how the pair went for a bite to eat that same evening.
“We sat down, she ordered a Guinness, and that was it … I beyond love Guinness,” Momoa recalled to Corden. “She ordered a Guinness and I ordered grits. We had Guinness and grits, and the rest is history.”
Momoa and Bonet began dating that same year. The latter already had a daughter with musician and ex-husband lenny Kravtiz. Though that did nothing to deter Momoa or complicate the relationship. The star actually revealed himself to be even more of a giant teddy bear. Not only did he become firmly attached to Bonet’s daughter Zoë, but he befriended her ex-husband, too. What a guy!
Momoa has referred to Zoë as “zozo bear” on Instagram. And she, in return, has called him “papa bear.” In fact, when it comes to the Kravitzes, it’s all one big love in for the Game of Thrones actor. Momoa told Men’s Health, “I love [Zoë’s] husband. I love her dad. I hope and pray my daughter is that talented and loving and open and close to her family.”
Jason Momoa is actually a bit of an enigma. On screen he’s the ultimate tough guy, but off it he’s just a big softie who’s dedicated to his family. But in terms of the characters he’s played, who is the star most like? Well, Momoa himself thinks it is Aquaman. He told the lifestyle magazine Men’s Journal in December 2018, “It’s probably the character I’ve played that’s most like me. Like him, I grew up a huge outsider. I was just with my mother, he was just with his father, and I know what that’s like – not having a parent around.”
But what do colleagues make of the heartthrob actor? Momoa’s Aquaman co-star Patrick Wilson told Men’s Journal, “[He] loves to defy his physical persona; I actually think that’s his biggest strength.” And Dune co-star Timothée Chalamet told the similarly named Men’s Health all about the positives that the star brings on set. The former said, “[Momoa] inspires a group spirit to all around him. He is someone who brings a raw joy for filmmaking to the set every day. He’s one of those enriching humans to be around for their joy of camaraderie…”
Denis Villenueve is Momoa’s director in Dune and handpicked the actor to star as Duncan Idaho. And the filmmaker told Men’s Health exactly why. He explained, “[The character] is a true heroic knight figure: a proud, courageous, righteous, and ruthless man – famous for his unmatchable fighting skills. He’s also a bit of a bohemian. I thought that [Momoa] would be perfect to embody him.”
But why Momoa, exactly? Well, Villeneuve explained that just like Duncan Idaho, the actor has “an insane charisma that makes people gravitate around him. [Momoa] is a force of nature. He’s bigger than life.” This may be so, but his wife is still very much the boss at home.