The Most Controversial Moments Of Jason Momoa's Career

The following article includes discussions of sexual assault.

Jason Momoa's longtime partnership and marriage with Lisa Bonet created one of the most enviable blended families in Hollywood. And though they announced their separation in January 2022, fans everywhere were still looking up to the actors as examples of what supportive romances can be. As of this writing, we still don't know what exactly went on behind the scenes, though their joint statement made it sound like they were affected by the global upheaval around the COVID-19 pandemic, and there were hints that something might have been amiss.

Fans reassessing their interest in the "Aquaman" star may have been wondering how Momoa stacks up against that classic internet adage: "Your fave is problematic." Though Momoa has, at this point, largely escaped "cancellation," instead winning fans over through his passionate activism and charm, a look back at the most controversial moments of his career serves as a good case study for how celebrities can manage public outcry. 

Jason Momoa's controversies run the gamut from on-set pranks to offensive remarks about rape, but it seems like a well-worded apology, a timely walk-back, and a demonstration of growth might go a long way. Barring that, it seems like sometimes just letting a social media furor die down is the most effective way for celebs to move on from the backlash.

Jason Momoa ruined his co-star's books

While promoting "Aquaman" in 2018, Amber Heard appeared on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" and talked about what it was like to work with Jason Momoa. She told an anecdote about reading a lot on set because of all the time she spent suspended in various harnesses for the film's "underwater" scenes, and it turned out her co-star didn't like that hobby very much. "Jason's allergic to being ignored," Heard quipped, after agreeing with host Jimmy Fallon that Momoa is a "positive, happy dude." She revealed, "He can't sit still, so no matter what, he will push, prod, nudge, shove you, anything to get your attention." In order to cope, Heard revealed that Momoa found a way to make her pay attention to him: "He adopted this method of ripping out the last pages of my book, which is annoying. You get to the last 10 pages, and they'd just be gone."

Momoa himself told the same story himself at an IGN event at Comic-Con, revealing that he gave her the pages back on the last day of shooting. Co-star Nicole Kidman looked confused and concerned by the story, while Patrick Wilson, who played the film's villain, cackled.

The anecdote didn't go over well online, to say the least. Jezebel compared Momoa to Gaston, the book-averse Disney villain who tormented Belle in "Beauty and the Beast." Meanwhile, one fan shared how the story had soured her on the actor ... kind of. "He's now 33% less hot," they tweeted in part.

He made inappropriate jokes about rape

Back in 2011, Jason Momoa participated in a panel at Comic-Con about "Game of Thrones," and he discussed his breakout role as the barbaric Khal Drogo. He went in depth about why he likes acting in the fantasy genre, and his comments were not well-received — even by some of his co-stars, who looked uncomfortable as they sat next to him. "I love that genre, because there are so many things you can do, like rip someone's tongue out of their throat and get away with it and rape beautiful women," Momoa said.

Momoa had also flippantly discussed the subject of rape on the HBO series in an interview with the New York Post the same year, telling them, "Yeah, I'm raping Emilia [Clarke on screen]. I love her, but I'm hurting her and she's crying. We could have made it longer, but you get the idea." Thankfully, he clarified, "I'm not a rapist! I prefer my women to enjoy sex." 

However, the video of his offensive Comic-Con comments resurfaced in 2017 thanks to a fan who posted the clip on Twitter. As Complex reported, several people reinterpreted the video in context of the ongoing #MeToo Movement, and they expressed their displeasure on social media. Momoa eventually posted a screencapped Notes App apology on Instagram, writing in part, "I made a truly tasteless comment. It is unacceptable and I sincerely apologize with a heavy heart for the words I said."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Jason Momoa showered praise on Mel Gibson

In 2020, Jason Momoa sparked controversy for posting photos on Instagram alongside disgraced actor and director Mel Gibson. As Yahoo! noted in their coverage of the post, Gibson has long been accused of making numerous racist and sexist comments, including an infamous rant when he was pulled over on suspicion of DUI in 2006. Newsweek even has a comprehensive roundup of Gibson's alleged anti-Semitic remarks, all of which have led to regular backlash despite the fact that he still appears in films.

That controversial reputation didn't seem to bother Momoa, though, who was all smiles in photos that also featured his former "Game of Thrones" co-star, Peter Dinklage. In addition to posing with Gibson, Momoa showered him with praise in the caption of the snaps, writing in part, "ICON. legend MEL you made my childhood amazing MAD MAX MARTIN RIGGS WILLIAM WALLACE in my opinion even a greater director. thank you sir for APOCALYPTO and yes anything you need from me IM F***ING IN MEL."

Needless to say, many fans were not happy, noting in the comments section that Momoa's then-wife and stepdaughter, Lisa Bonet and Zoë Kravitz, are Jewish. "This is SO incredibly wack and disappointing," one person wrote in part (via Yahoo!), while another commented, "I hope he has changed and grown. I believe in second chances but his past behavior was horrible." Momoa never addressed the controversy, preferring instead to let it simmer by leaving the post up ... though he and Gibson haven't, as of this writing, worked together after all.

The actor dodged a reporter's questions about Khal Drogo

Even though a nearly decade-old joke about rape scenes on "Game of Thrones" had already caused him problems, it seemed Jason Momoa still hadn't figured out how he wanted to discuss the delicate subject matter so thoroughly bound up in his breakout role as Khal Drogo by 2021 ... or whether he should have to discuss it at all. More than 10 years after his character was killed off, Momoa was asked by The New York Times how he feels now about the character's rape scenes, particularly if he regrets participating in sequences that have in hindsight been deemed exploitative. 

Momoa seemed surprised by the question, and he answered, "It's not my job to go, 'Would I not do it?' I've never really been questioned about 'Do you regret playing a role?' We'll put it this way: I already did it. Not doing it again." He seemed off for the rest of the interview, giving the reporter several one-word answers. When the exchange ended, Momoa had more to say. "When you brought up 'Game of Thrones,' you brought up stuff about what's happening with my character and would I do it again. I was bummed when you asked me that. It just feels icky — putting it upon me to remove something. As if an actor even had the choice to do that."

Momoa's response was praised in right-wing publications like The Blaze and Fox News, where it was seen as a victory over "woke" media.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

That time Jason Momoa gave a bear a cookie

On the Apple TV+ show "See," Jason Momoa plays a blind warrior named Baba Voss. While one might think the show would be controversial for casting a sighted actor in a blind role, according to Fanbye, the production seems to have done a solid job being inclusive both in front of and behind the camera. That said, Momoa still managed to cause controversy around the show for an unexpected reason: he gave a bear a cookie.

According to Momoa himself on Apple Music's Beats 1 (via Us Weekly), the scene in "See" where his character brawls with a bear was accomplished without any CGI. Alongside a behind-the-scenes video shared on Instagram in 2019, Momoa explained that he fed the bear out of his own mouth, writing in part, "The bear needs to know your scent. So here's my cookie kisses big guy."

The video annoyed animal-rights group PETA, who released a statement on Twitter, saying, "In a sad stunt, a captive bear ate a cookie out of actor Jason Momoa's mouth. Bears used for entertainment are often torn from their mothers as infants, beat, & forced to perform." They begged Momoa to avoid exploiting animals in the future, following up with information about the wildlife expert who handled the bear on set. "The bear was apparently provided by notorious exhibitor Steve Martin's Working Wildlife," they added, "which has been cited numerous times by the USDA for violating the federal Animal Welfare Act." 

Jason Momoa feuded with Chris Pratt

One of Jason Momoa's best qualities is that he's an environmentalist. In January 2021, he spoke to the United Nations about the climate emergency, warning them, "Change cannot come in 2050, or 2030, or even 2025. Change must come today. We can no longer afford the luxury of half-a**ing it." He even starred in a PSA where he punches plastic water bottles out of people's hands.

It's that anti-water bottle stance that got Momoa into a brief celeb feud in 2019, when fellow "The Lego Movie 2" star Chris Pratt posted an advertisement on Instagram that features him holding a plastic water bottle while working out. "Bro i love u but wtf on the water bottle. No single use plastic. Come on," Momoa commented on the photo (via Today). As Momoa's disappointment made headlines, Pratt responded, writing, "Aquaman! You're completely right. Dammit. I always carry my big gallon size reusable water jug around with me too. I even had it that day!!!" He followed his apology with a call for people to "Reduce. Reuse. Recycle."

Momoa then issued a mea culpa for sparking the beef. He shared a photo of himself and Pratt side-hugging, captioning it in part, "​​I'm sorry this was received so badly today I didn't mean for that to happen. I'm just very passionate about this single use plastic epidemic." ​However, it was seemingly too late: Fans on Twitter had already dug up old photos of Momoa himself using plastic water bottles. Oops!