Joseph Jason Namakaeha Momoa was born on August 1, 1979, in Honolulu, Hawaii. He is the son of Coni (Lemke), a photographer, and Joseph Momoa, a painter. His father is of Native Hawaiian and Samoan descent; and his mother, who is from Iowa, is of German, Irish, and Native American ancestry. Jason was raised in Norwalk, Iowa, by his mother. After high school, he moved to Hawaii, where he landed a lead role, beating out of thousands of hopefuls in the TV series Baywatch (1989) (known as "Baywatch Hawaii" in its 10th season). When the show ended, he spent the next couple of years traveling around the world. In 2001, he moved to Los Angeles, where he continued to pursue an acting career. In 2004, after the short-lived TV series North Shore (2004), he was cast as the popular character "Ronon Dex" in the TV series Stargate: Atlantis (2004), which achieved a cult-like following. In 2010, he appeared in the Emmy-nominated HBO series Game of Thrones (2011), playing the Dothraki king, Khal Drogo. To illustrate to the producers that he was Khal Drogo, he performed the Haka, a traditional war dance of the Maori of New Zealand. The audition was with the same casting director who was casting the titular role in the reboot of Conan the Barbarian (2011). Four weeks after being cast as the popular Robert E. Howard character, Momoa began shooting in Bulgaria. His approach, like that of the filmmakers, was to pull from the eight decades of comics and stories as well as the Frank Frazetta images rather than the hugely popular 1982 movie. Jason has a production company, Pride of Gypsies, in which he is expanding his career from actor to filmmaker. He has directed a couple of short films and is working on his feature film debut Road to Paloma (2014), which is pulled from a series of stories that he's been developing over the years, which he calls the Brown Bag Diaries: Ridin' the Blinds in B Minor (2010). Jason lives with his wife, actress Lisa Bonet, with whom he has two children, Lola and Nakoa-Wolf.
Before They Were Famous: Actors' Early Roles
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