Why Jason Momoa Doesn’t Think He’s a Movie Star

Jason Momoa’s last movie, Aquaman, grossed more than $1 billion at the box office after it came out a year ago. Yet, the Game of Thrones actor says he’s not a movie star?

Sure, he’s a movie star in the most literal sense, in that he has starred in several movies. But Momoa questioned his own status, comparing himself unfavorably to other names of long-standing in the industry.

However, many people who post memes drooling over the actor may be inclined to disagree with his critical take of himself.

Why does Jason Momoa say he’s not a star?

Jason Momoa arrives at the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures' 'Justice League' at Dolby Theatre.
Jason Momoa | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

An interviewer with Esquire noted that Momoa has a habit of being self-effacing. He said: “I think of Brad Pitt as a movie star. You know what I mean? Like George Clooney is a movie star. Those guys are like, boom.”

Perhaps the actor is marveling at his own luck. He can’t quite believe he gets to do what he does. He’s 40 now, but he seems like he’s still getting used to fame, which arguably kicked off with his role as Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones in 2011, where he was a more than memorable foil/husband to Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys. That same year, he landed his first prominent movie, with the title role of the remake/reboot of Conan the Barbarian

Conan the Barbarian didn’t get a ton of positive attention, but Game of Thrones certainly did and Momoa was off to the races. But, by his own admission, Momoa wasn’t exactly known for range. He also told Esquire: “I mean, where do you put Drogo? He’s not going in a rom-com. No one even knew I spoke English.”

What is a movie star, anyway?

Considering how the definition of “movie star” has changed over the years, it’s not hard to understand why Momoa doubts his own status. For many decades — going back to Hollywood’s golden age from the 30s through the 50s — studios relied on names like Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn or Humphrey Bogart to put butts in seats. Just a star’s name was enough to promise that even a middling movie would sell tickets. 

But in the last 20 years or so, the definition seems to be shifting. More and more, it seems like people aren’t so much the stars as genres and characters. People don’t go to Marvel Cinematic Universe Movies because of who’s in them — they go because they know the characters. Being a member of the DC Extended Universe, Momoa falls right into this category.

Jason Momoa’s future looks promising

If Momoa compares to any star of recent vintage, it’s probably the one whose role Momoa played when he took on Conan: Arnold Schwarzenegger. Like Momoa, Schwarzenegger was initially known more for his physique than his acting ability. But Schwarzenegger had a charisma that carried him to huge heights — charisma he continues to capitalize on to this day, with his appearance in the upcoming Terminator: Dark Fate. 

Momoa is getting ready to shoot the sequel to Aquaman, in which he’ll have a greater hand, even coming up with the story.

“I came in with a big pitch,” he told Esquire.. “I came in with the whole thing mapped out, and they loved it.” 

Momoa has also filmed episodes of the sci-fi drama See, a new venture with Apple TV+. So, he’s staying busy, visible and dipping his toes into new media.