Jason Momoa eyes breakout film role in "Conan"

Thu Aug 18, 2011 1:20pm EDT
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By Zorianna Kit

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Jason Momoa may not be a household name from Hollywood yet, but neither was Arnold Schwarzenegger when he took on the title role of "Conan the Barbarian" in 1982.

Nearly 30 years later, Momoa could see a similar starmaking trajectory if moviegoers embrace him as the new, 3D incarnation of "Conan the Barbarian," due in theaters on Friday. If there's one person who hopes they will, it is Momoa.

"Conan (is) going to give me star status," he told Reuters of his hopes for a movie that breaks him out of the pack of Hollywood actors. "It's going to put me in leading man roles."

Based on pulp fiction writer Robert E. Howard's sword and sorcery fantasy stories, the "Conan" reboot begins with the barbarian's early years when, as a young boy, he witnesses the destruction of his village and the death of his father.

As an adult, Conan embarks on a personal mission to avenge the death, which then turns into an epic battle to save an entire nation from a supernatural evil.

Unlike Schwarzenegger who, at 35, was a body building champ but a relative newcomer to Hollywood movies when he took the "Conan" role, the 32 year-old Momoa has 12 years of work under his belt. But only his hardcore fans, including followers of HBO series "Games of Thrones," likely know he's got the acting skills, not to mention the muscles, to wield Conan's weapons.

Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Momoa was raised by his single mother in Iowa, where he never felt like he fit in with his exotic looks inherited largely from his native Hawaiian father. After high school, in an attempt to "get to know my father better" Momoa went back to Hawaii where his looks became an asset. Modeling gigs followed, then came an opportunity he could never have predicted -- a gig on "Baywatch."

"I was 19 and folding t-shirts in a surf shop," Momoa told Reuters. "And I got chosen out of 1,300 people to play a lead role on 'Baywatch Hawaii.' I didn't even know how to act."   Continued...