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SYFY WIRE Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones showrunners found Jason Momoa thanks to internet fan-casting

By Christian Long
Jason Momoa Khal Drogo Game of Thrones

When looking back at the past eight seasons of Game of Thrones, it's hard to deny that Jason Momoa's portrayal of vicious Dothraki leader Khal Drogo still stands out. Which is impressive, considering his character didn't even make it out of Season 1 alive.

While it wasn't Momoa's first acting role, it is widely regarded as his big break. And it turns out that internet fandom played a pretty big role in that happening.

At the Austin Film Festival Saturday afternoon, Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss gave a lengthy panel discussion about the massive undertaking of adapting George R.R. Martin's (still-unfinished) fantasy novels for HBO. When discussing the lengthy process of casting a show with so many characters, Benioff revealed that it was the internet that led to them finding Momoa. 

"It was really hard to find a good Khal Drogo," Benioff told the crowd, which included SYFY WIRE. "We had all these auditions and no one was quite right. And then we're looking at some website that had 'Fan Casting of Game of Thrones.' A lot of it was kinda knuckleheaded, but some of it was really smart. And there was one person, or maybe a few people, who said, 'Oh, it should be this guy Jason Momoa.' And we'd never heard of Jason before -- and I apologize to the Baywatch fans -- but I haven't gotten around to it. But I saw a picture of him, we both did, and I thought, 'Well, that really does look like Khal Drogo.'"

This led to the future Aquaman star getting an audition, which featured his now-infamous Haka dance. "No one asked him to do that," Weiss added with a laugh.  

The pair, who were tight-lipped about both their upcoming Star Wars project and their very lucrative Netflix deal, were also this year's recipients of the Austin Film Festival's 2019 Outstanding Television Writer Awardees.