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Jason Momoa went into serious debt after Game of Thrones killed him off: 'We were starving'

By Josh Weiss
Game of Thrones

Despite the fact that he now commands vast oceans and a tribe of post-apocalyptic human survivors without sight, Jason Momoa wasn't always riding high. In fact, he nearly went into financial ruin after his character (Dothraki chieftan Khal Drogo) was killed off in the first season of Game of Thrones. It turned out to be a rather bad omen for what was to come in the years ahead, but don't worry — there's a happy ending to this story.

During a recent interview with InStyle, the actor opened up about the hard times he fell on after leaving the HBO series, which ended up becoming a massive global phenomenon. "I mean, we were starving after Game of Thrones," said Momoa, who has a wife and two children. "I couldn’t get work. It’s very challenging when you have babies and you’re completely in debt."

After five years of hardship, things began to pick up as the actor landed the role of Arthur Curry/Aquaman in Zack Snyder's Justice League. From there, it was pretty much smooth sailing (pun intended). The roles started flooding in (there's another pun) and Aquaman even ended up getting his own movie by way of horror director James Wan. Released in December 2018, the film is currently the highest-grossing DC adaptation of all time, with more than $1 billion at the global box office. A sequel is currently in the works and scheduled for release in December 2022; Wan is returning to direct.

Jason Momoa

Besides his tenure in the DCEU, Momoa can also be seen as Baba Voss in the Apple TV+ show See (currently shooting its second season up in Canada) and Duncan Idaho in Denis Villeneuve's big screen reimagining of Dune (delayed to next year). In addition, he's been cast to portray a holiday icon, Frosty the Snowman, in an upcoming yuletide feature written by Elf scribe David Berenbaum. And just last month, Momoa boarded Francis Lawrence's Slumberland.

"It was ‘Josh Brolin, Jason Momoa, Javier Bardem,’ and I’m just like, ‘Oh my god. I can’t believe my name was with those names.’ I feel like I’m still a kid, freaking out," the actor said of the first epic Dune trailer, which dropped online in early September. Talking about the plot itself, he added: "It’s not alien versus alien — it’s about conflicts between human tribes. And greed. It really hits home right now."

While his professional slump after Game of Thrones wasn't the greatest period in his life, Momoa still had a great time filming the high fantasy series, which took his own ideas into account.

"I told [showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff) one thing missing in the book for me was to see Drogo fight," he said for a recently-published oral history of the series. The whole buildup and the myth of him is amazing, and George is phenomenal. But I want to see him f**k s**t up. That’s why I did the haka in the audition, so you could just see what it would be like if he went into battle. I said, 'I can make this simple. I can just bob and weave and then we see his quickness.'"

The not-so-fun part was the unprofessional handling of early sex scenes with scene partner Emilia Clarke ("Daenerys Targaryen").