The Early Role That Almost Ruined Jason Momoa's Career

Similar to Dwayne Johnson before him, Jason Momoa built a career on being big. With huge muscles and a charming smile, Momoa became the lead man in movies like the 2011 reboot of "Conan the Barbarian." The original 1982 film helped kickstart Arnold Schwarzenegger's acting career and the character was an important step into movies for Momoa since he was previously known only for his television work, per IMDb. Still, Momoa held onto bad memories from the project. "I've been a part of a lot of things that really sucked, and movies where it's out of your hands. Conan was one of them. It's one of the best experiences I had and it [was] taken over and turned into a big pile of s***," he told GQ

Momoa's career has been full of ups and downs. Following "Conan" he had a memorable stint on "Game of Thrones" only to be killed in the first season, magically brought back from the dead, then smothered the following season. After his departure from the show, "GoT" continued to skyrocket in popularity without Momoa. The series finale still leaves a bad impression with fans years later, according to Collider, but not that it mattered because by that point Momoa had already become a superstar. He played "Aquaman" and became the lead in the TV series "See." Yet, Momoa was close to missing out on all of this due to an early career move that nearly put an end to his time in Hollywood.

Jason Momoa reflects on his fun in the sun

Jason Momoa's first TV role came in the spinoff series "Baywatch: Hawaii." In a show known for its stars, like hunky David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson, running in slow motion with minimal clothing, it makes sense that producers selected Momoa. He had recently won Hawaii's Model of the Year competition, or so he said. Age 19 at the time, Momoa lied during the casting process when producers asked if he'd ever acted or modeled. He claimed to have posed for the biggest names in fashion like Gucci and Louis Vuitton but "we were just kind of making it up on the spot," Momoa told Square Mile. Later, Momoa continued the charade by working with managers to conspire on his fake modeling career. Momoa even kept modeling on his résumé for years.

This lie nearly cost him because even though the show was good exposure for the young actor, the stigma surrounding the series made it difficult for Momoa to find another job. It took him nearly five years to even get his first acting agent. "I love that it gave me the opportunity to fall in love with acting, but it also really, really hurt me, being on it. Just because it's 'Baywatch,' people don't think you can act," Momoa revealed to Movieline. Though the show paved the way for Momoa to land his role in "Conan the Barbarian," he still recalls people questioning the decision to hire a "'Baywatch' dude."

Jason Momoa's many slumps

After several seasons on "Baywatch: Hawaii," Momoa didn't get the acting offers he hoped for. "Things got tough. I wasn't getting any jobs and I had to develop my own project to get some money coming in," he told Square Mile. Momoa said that his biggest hurdle to overcome was the reputation he earned from his role as an attractive lifeguard. "No one would take me seriously because it was 'Baywatch.' I lived in the shadow of that for a long time," Momoa told Reuters

Fed up with few offers, Momoa decided to step away from Hollywood and enjoy himself by rock climbing and traveling the world. "I was also interested in different religions, and so I went to France and Italy. Went to Tibet. Went to Japan. I kind of lived out all my dreams," he recalled to The New York Times. Though it may appear "Game of Thrones" was good for Momoa's career, he revealed that, once again, he faced an acting drought after his character arc ended. "I couldn't get work. It's very challenging when you have babies and you're completely in debt," he confessed to InStyle.

Even though it all worked out for Momoa, he is still careful to relive his early days. For example, he refuses to let his children watch his "Baywatch" episodes. "We don't say the B word at home. We hide all of that ... it never happened," Momoa explained on the radio show "Fitzy and Wippa."