Jason Momoa Is A Lot More Like His Flamboyant Slumberland Character Than Khal Drogo In Real Life [Exclusive]

When you think of Jason Momoa, you probably recall his time as Khal Drogo, the frighting war lord who spoke little and murdered plenty in the first season of "Game of Thrones." Or maybe you think of Arthur Curry, the muscle-bound King of Atlantis who is due to wield his trident at some point in 2023. If you're really cool, then you probably remember his time as the wonderfully named warm hugger and badass swordmaster Duncan Idaho. But the point is this: various roles have established Momoa as an oft-shirtless, very dangerous-looking muscly guy. This is exactly why he jumped at a chance to star in "Slumberland," where he plays the imaginary friend of any kid's dream.

Jason Momoa gets silly in Slumberland

"Slumberland" tells the story of a little girl named Nemo, who escapes reality to reunite with her recently deceased father via her dreams. Because no grand adventure would be complete without a magical mentor, she's joined by Momoa's Flip. Don't let the whimsical name fool you though: Flip is a half-beast, nine-foot-tall creature with shaggy fur, long horns, and sharp fangs. He also wears a purple top hat. Frankly, he sounds like a monster straight out of a horror movie (a friend of the Babadook, perhaps). But then again, he is named Flip.

Flip turns out to be a somewhat reluctant hero who guides Nemo through dreamland, embracing chaos, adventure, and fun above all else. He's certainly no Khal Drogo, but for "Slumberland" director Francis Lawrence, seeing Momoa get silly as Flip felt much closer to reality. In an exclusive interview with /Film's Hannah Shaw-Williams, Lawrence said:

"One of the reasons that I wanted Jason to do this was he and I were doing a TV show together for Apple ["See"] and really enjoyed working with each other, but also became friends. Weirdly, I saw that he's really nothing like the guy that he plays in most of the movies and shows he has been in. He's actually much closer and more similar to Flip in real life."

Lawrence added that Momoa is "quite a big kid and really mischievous and really fun and can be silly but also very warm. And so, it was just really fun to know that people were going to get to see a different side of him."

Momoa is embracing variety

On Momoa's part, showing these different sides of himself onscreen is a very intentional choice. Post-"Game of Thrones," it was difficult to find work that actually gave him room to flex as an actor. Chatting with Jimmy Fallon in 2018, he said:

"Not a lot of people thought I spoke English. It was very challenging. It's like, 'What do you do with Drogo?' You're not gonna put him in a comedy, you're not gonna put him in a romantic [comedy] [...] you know what I mean? It's pigeonholed."

Following his breakout role in "Thrones," Momoa made an active effort to avoid similar roles. It's a big part of the reason that he ended up turning down the role of Drax in "Guardians of the Galaxy" (which he is thrilled went to Dave Bautista instead). Since then, Momoa has done a really effective job of showing off his skill set. His onscreen presence hasn't slowed down and he's also been busy behind the scenes, having directed the 2014 thriller "Road to Paloma" and co-produced the historical drama, "Frontier." Still on the horizon is "Chief of War," the nine-episode limited series that he both stars in and co-created with Thomas Pa'a Sibbett. 

Also wonderful is the fact that Momoa hasn't totally turned his back on that action-star archetype. Instead, he embraces roles like "Aquaman," where he freshens the character with humor and personality that goes well beyond the simplistic action hero. Need I sing the praises of Duncan Idaho once more? Hearing that Momoa is set to star in a film — even if the role sounds similar to one he's already played — never fails to excite, which goes to show that he's deftly avoided being pigeonholed for good.

"Slumberland" is now streaming on Netflix.