Jason Momoa: Don’t Call Him ‘That Baywatch Dude’

Mike Krumboltz
Movie Talk
Jason Momoa
Jason Momoa

You might not know Jason Momoa by name, but that's about to change. Momoa stars as the title character in the newly released (and highly anticipated) "Conan the Barbarian."

The film is a remake of the 1982 cult classic starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Those are big shoes for Momoa to fill, but don't worry -- Momoa's a big guy. Standing 6'4" with long black hair and a chiseled jaw, he seems like a natural for the role of a battle-hungry barbarian. But despite Momoa's talents, his career almost stalled out long ago, thanks to his big break on "Baywatch." Yes, that "Baywatch."

In a recent inteview with MovieLine, Momoa spoke about how he appreciates that the lifeguard drama got him into acting. But (and this is a big but) he also contends that the show hurt his career. "Just because it's 'Baywatch,' people don't think you can act. I'm constantly fighting that stigma. When I got cast as Conan, people were like, 'You're hiring the 'Baywatch' dude to play Conan?'"

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And don't think he's just holding a pity party for himself. Momoa insists that after "Baywatch," it took him five years just to get an agent because nobody would take him seriously. But Momoa persevered. He traveled and trained, and was finally cast on "Stargate Atlantis," his next big break.

After that, he had two children with former "Cosby Show" star Lisa Bonet, and he survived an attack with a broken bottle that required 140 stitches in his face.  The resulting scar -- plus the 25 pounds of muscle mass he put on -- helped turn the former model into a believably tough and intimating barbarian warrior.

These days, Momoa couldn't tank his career if he tried. He's already making an impact in the Search box. Over the past seven days, online lookups for the hunky Hawaiian are up 215%. He had a juicy role on the hit HBO show "Game of Thrones," and his turn as "Conan" is sure to expose him to a much bigger audience. He's currently filming the action film "Bullet to the Head" opposite Sylvester Stallone. Gone are the days when he's best known as "that Baywatch dude." Take that, Hasselhoff.

Check out the trailer for 'Conan the Barbarian':

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