Jason Momoa is about to happen again, but I got a head start on that ride a decade ago – before Game of Thrones and Aquaman.
I think it had to do with him slamming into me.
The one thing I remember about Jason Momoa is how good he smelled. I don’t know if it was the man’s natural scent, if he was rocking out designer cologne, or if the synapses in my brain were firing on overdrive causing my senses to be incredibly heightened, but one thing I could not deny: The dude smelled delicious, and although a buffet of snacks and finger foods had been laid out around me, as he hovered in my presence, all I wanted to do was eat him with a spoon!
It was at the premiere of Gus Van Sant’s Milk – one of the first big A-List events I had the privilege of attending not long after having settled in Los Angeles. A friend of mine who was working as a publicist at the time hooked me up with access, and I brought along my friend Arevik. The movie had finished screening, everyone who was anyone was there that night at the Academy Theater on Wilshire Boulevard, and I was doing my best not to seem as star-struck as I was. Yes – that was Jack Nicholson by the stairs; yes – that was Sean Penn hugging James Franco; yes – that was Gina Gershon talking with Emile Hirsch; Kevin Williamson; Josh Brolin; Diane Lane; Oliver Stone… on and on.
But there was Jason Momoa, smelling divine, and coming right at me with the light of the stars in his eyes…
The first time I’d ever heard of the guy was during his stint on Baywatch. He just stood out, the man had presence, and there was something unconventional about his look even on a show that was all about abs and bikinis on the beach. Every time he got a new role that seemed substantial, he would somehow always come up on my radar. There he was in Johnson Family Vacation, there he was on TV again in Stargate: Atlantis. Why wasn’t he a movie star!?
It seems like Hollywood doesn’t always know what to do with people who don’t fit a particular mold. It’s obnoxious, but it also can lead to unique individuals standing out. If this weren’t the case, many of the people on This Is Us or Ryan Murphy shows would never have had the opportunity to find the break so many performers covet. And it’s not as if Jason Momoa didn’t find work. He was always around, accorded the “Hey it’s that guy from that thing” recognition that character actors fall into.
Then came the one-two punch of Conan the Barbarian and HBO’s Game of Thrones. It felt like for the first time, someone figured out what to do with Jason Momoa. He was an action star the likes of which we hadn’t really seen since the heydey of Sylvester Stallone and the Governator (Arnold Schwarzennegger, who actually played Conan in the 1980s). And while CtB didn’t exactly set the box office on fire, GoT became the television phenomenon of a generation, winning fans of all stripes and ages the world over, and Momoa’s storyline one of the most powerful and memorable in the early run of the series. “Khal Drogo,” his character of Game of Thrones, was not exactly a paradigm of a PC approach to romance, but the chemistry Jason shared with co-star Emilia Clarke (the future “Mother of Dragons” on the show), was astounding. For those who haven’t seen the series, let’s just say she… tamed him.
By his own admission, the Game of Thrones role made it difficult for Momoa to book gigs afterward; he was so good in it that people didn’t think he could actually speak English! But it wasn’t long before opportunity came knocking…and he was cast as Aquaman in Warner Bros.’ DC Universe, where he has shared the screen with some of the most iconic comic book characters around…and this Christmas, that very character gets his own movie, directed by the acclaimed James Wan.
Will this finally be the big break moment Momoa has been having now for over a decade “on the verge”? We’ll see. There certainly seems to be a lot of enthusiasm for him, and for Aquaman. The stars may just align.
Although I seriously doubt he’ll be going anywhere. Jason Momoa has proven that regardless of where the ups and downs of the business take him, he’s just happy to show up.
Which brings me to the night I got to meet him at the Milk premiere. Turns out he wasn’t walking right toward me with stars in his eyes; he was looking for someone. And as I made my move to sweep him off his feet, he slammed right into me while trying to dodge a passing waiter carrying a tray of champagne flutes.
“I’m so sorry, big guy,” he said, as his beautiful scent enveloped me.
“Oh no worries, you can slam into me any time.”
As if she knew what I was up to (and in my defense I had no idea who she was or that they were even together!), Lisa Bonet, his partner, came up between us, gave me the stink eye, took his hand, and ushered him away. The person he was looking for found him instead. But not before I got something from him that would forever make me a lifelong devotee. As she pulled him away from me, he turned right around, the gorgeous mane of hair on his head whipping past his shoulders as he did so.
And he winked at me.