Jason Momoa Says He ‘Couldn’t Get Work’ After ‘Game of Thrones’: ‘We Were Starving’

Jason Momoa had a prominent role on one of the most popular TV shows in recent memory, but it didn’t pay the bills. The actor who played Khal Drogo on Game of Thrones says that after his character was killed off in season 1, he and his wife Lisa Bonet had trouble making ends meet and were struggling with debt.

Jason Momoa got his start on ‘Baywatch’ 

Jason Momoa
Jason Momoa | Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for HBO

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Jason Momoa first got a taste of Hollywood success when he was cast in the Baywatch spinoff Baywatch: Hawaii. Momoa landed the part at age 19 when he and his friends attended an open casting call for the show, he told InStyle in an interview published online Nov. 10. The show aired from 1999 to 2001, but after it ended, finding work was tough.

“I couldn’t even get an agent for three or four years,” he said.

Momoa got a second chance at success when he was cast as Ronon Dex on Stargate: Atlantis. He appeared in more than 70 episodes of the sci-fi series before its final episode aired in 2009. Then came the role of Khal Drogo on HBO’s Game of Thrones

Jason Momoa says he was ‘completely in debt’ after ‘Game of Thrones’  

A prominent role on a high-profile premium cable series seems like the kind of break many actors would dream of. But for Momoa, his short time on GoT wasn’t an automatic ticket to future success. During a break from filming, he was still so broke he couldn’t afford to fly home to the U.S., he revealed in an Instagram post in 2019. 

Once Game of Thrones started airing, Momoa quickly won fans for his portrayal of Khal Drogo, the leader of the Dothraki and husband to Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke). But his character dies in the season 1 finale, so Momoa wasn’t around to enjoy the increasing success of the epic fantasy show. Instead, he was at home in Los Angeles with his wife and two young kids and trying to figure out his next move. Though he told the Hollywood Reporter in 2017 that he got “respect” for his work on the show, it didn’t lead to many job offers, in part “because Khal Drago doesn’t even speak English.”

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

Things turned around for Jason Momoa when he was cast as Aquaman

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After Game of Thrones, Momoa appeared in the TV series Red Road and Frontier. But according to InStyle, it wasn’t until 2016, when he was cast as Aquaman in Justice League, that his fortunes began to change. In 2018, the aquatic superhero got a movie of his own. 

“I haven’t been an actor who’s been able to pick and choose roles, and being a family man, it’s been about putting food on the table,” Momoa told the Hollywood Reporter, speaking of joining the DC Extended Universe. “This has been the best moment of my career because the superhero roles are letting me get the other roles I want.”

Momoa will reprise his role as Aquaman in an upcoming sequel. And in 2021, he’ll appear in Dune, a highly-anticipated adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi novel with an all-star cast that also includes Timothée Chalamet, Josh Brolin, and Javier Bardem.

Now that Momoa is no longer struggling to find work, it seems his hand-to-mouth days are behind him. He has an estimated net worth of $14 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth