Does Jason Momoa Regret His ‘Baywatch’ Past?

Not many people might know this, but before becoming the fierce Khal Drogo on Game of Thrones or the chiseled King of the Seven Seas in Aquaman, Jason Momoa appeared on the hit TV show Baywatch Hawaii.

Momoa’s role as the young lifeguard Jason Iaone catapulted his career and turned him into one of Hollywood’s dreamiest actors. However, after the show ended in 2001, the actor couldn’t seem to break the mold of his boy next door image, which caused his career to remain in limbo for the next few years.

Jason Momoa
Jason Momoa | David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images

Jason Momoa got his start on ‘Baywatch’

After graduating high school, Momoa moved from Iowa to Hawaii, where he got his first taste of fame.

One summer, at age 19, he was surfing in Oahu with some friends when he heard that there was an open casting call for a show. Wanting to meet girls, Momoa attended the audition, not thinking anything would come out of it.

But much to his surprise, he landed a lead role on the show, which just so happened to be a spinoff of the hit television series, Baywatch.

Jason Momoa
Jason Momoa |Evan Agostini/Getty Images

RELATED: Why Jason Momoa Said He’s ‘Absolutely Terrified’ of Wife Lisa Bonet

“I was 19 and folding t-shirts in a surf shop,” he told Reuters in 2011. “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.”

Momoa starred on the show for two seasons before it ended in 2001.

Jason Momoa says he lived in the shadow of his ‘Baywatch’ character for years

Following his stint on Baywatch: Hawaii, Momoa secured a role on the Hawaii-based show, North Shore, which kept him busy for about a year before it was ultimately canceled.

After that, Momoa struggled to find work — and an agent — in the entertainment industry due to the boy next door image the show had placed on him.

“It took me five years to get an agent after ‘Baywatch,'” the actor recalled. “No one would take me seriously because it was ‘Baywatch.’ I lived in the shadow of that for a long time.'”

But as luck would have it, the actor’s career didn’t stay in limbo for long as it eventually came out of its dry spell and hit the ground running.

Things picked up for Jason Momoa after his stint on ‘Game of Thrones’

In 2004, Momoa got his second chance at success when he was cast as Ronon Dex in the SciFi series Stargate: Atlantis. He appeared in more than 70 episodes of the show before its final episode aired in 2009.

His career took another fortuitous turn when he was cast as the powerful warlock Khal Drogo on HBO’s Game of Thrones, based on the popular “A Song of Ice and Fire” fantasy novels.

RELATED: ‘Game of Thrones’: Nothing ‘Clicked’ for Jason Momoa on the Disastrous Pilot Until They Recast the Role of Daenerys

Though his character only appeared in Season 1, Momoa won over fans’ hearts with his portrayal of Drogo. But despite the lasting popularity of his character, Momoa’s GoT gig didn’t lead to many job offers, which left him starving and barely able to pay his bills.

“I mean, we were starving after Game of Thrones,” Momoa told InStyle in November 2020. “I couldn’t get work. It’s very challenging when you have babies and you’re completely in debt.” 

Fortunately, though, Momoa was able to remedy his financial woes in 2016 when he landed the role of Aquaman in Justice League. Two years later, the aquatic superhero got a movie of his own. 

Now, Momoa’s acting schedule is fully booked until 2024 as he has several high-paying productions in line for the upcoming years, which will only add to his already massive net worth!