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Jason Momoa had roles in Hollywood prior to Game of Thrones, but it was his portrayal of Khal Drogo that really got the attention of producers and mainstream audiences. Unfortunately, Khal's popularity didn't necessarily play to his favor, as Momoa apparently had a hard time booking jobs following his stint on the HBO series due to his convincing portrayal of the character. No, Hollywood producers weren't afraid he'd get mad and pour molten gold on the heads of others, but a fair few apparently thought Momoa didn't actually speak English:
Yeah, 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...you know what I mean? It's pigeonholed.
The thought that Jason Momoa didn't speak English is understandable, considering most of his lines inGame of Thrones are in Dothraki. That said, Dothraki is a fictional language, so unless the people who watched Game of Thrones thought he was just speaking an obscure and unfamiliar language, it's hard to understand why they just assumed he didn't know how to speak English. Additionally, though Momoa wasn't as big of a star prior to Game of Thrones, he had enough sizable roles in shows like Stargate: Atlantis and Baywatch that producers could've easily figured out he spoke English had they looked into it a bit deeper.
Unfortunately, it seems some producers didn't, and even if they did, they still might've found it hard to perfectly place Jason Momoa in a general role, considering how well known he was from Game of Thrones. As Momoa told Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show, it doesn't exactly work to put the guy who played a Dothraki warlord in a comedy or romantic film. Momoa initially seemed to think that was the reason he wasn't landing roles, until former Saturday Night Live cast member and current Portlandia star Fred Armisen clued him in on the fact that not everyone knew he was an American English speaker.
Actually, the first person that made me, I guess I was bummed out a bit, was Fred, your buddy. Fred Armisen. I met him, and my stepdaughter Zoe did Portlandia. And he was so excited to meet me, he was amazing. And then he was like, ' I didn't even know you spoke English.' It was heartbreaking. I was like, 'That's why I'm not getting any jobs.
Jason Momoa didn't share on The Tonight Show whether or not he added "speaks English," to his resume after that, but whatever he did to change the public's perception of him worked. Among other things, Momoa snagged a sweet starring gig on the Netflix co-produced Canadian drama Frontier, and many, of course, now know him as Aquaman. Momoa's Hawaiian heritage and grasp of the English language appear to be common knowledge now, so hopefully Hollywood bigwigs refrain from making that assumption about him in the future. Otherwise, they actually might get a bowl of molten gold poured on their head.
The Tonight Show airs weeknights on NBC at 11:35 p.m. ET. For a list of shows that are set to premiere or return to television in 2018, head on over to our midseason premiere guide.