How Jason Momoa Reigned at the 'Aquaman' Premiere
The lights in the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood dimmed, and the excited crowd hushed as the movie was seconds from unspooling.
"I love you, everyone!" boomed a voice from deep in the darkness.
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The voice, instantly recognizable from its deep intonation, came from none other than Aquaman himself, Jason Momoa, expressing how he felt as the Warner Bros. logo rolled to begin a movie that for decades was believed so unfilmable that the very idea of it had become a punchline amongst comic fans. But director James Wan and Warner Bros.' Aquaman had finally arrived.
Momoa imbued Wednesday's Aquaman premiere with his superhero-sized personality. At a typical premiere, the top star never hits the red carpet when it's supposed to begin, but Momoa was there promptly at 6 p.m. to perform a surprise haka dance along with his onscreen father Temuera Morrison, who is of Maori descent.
The afterparty, held across the street at Roosevelt Hotel's palm tree-filled Tropicana Bar, featured self-serve Guinness stations, which was appropriate as Momoa frequently shares his love of the beer on social media and the character downs pints in the movie. The Aquaman character even made appearances in the foam of the lager.
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The gregarious Momoa wandered the afterparty greeting well-wishers. An hour in, he shed his long jacket and walked around in a black tank top trailed by a security guard half his size.
Earlier on the blue carpet, Momoa's co-stars talked about the larger-than-life actor.
Patrick Wilson, who plays Aquaman's half-brother Orm, is a veteran of comic book movies after starring in 2009's Watchmen, but he noted the training for this pic was infinitely more difficult. A gym was built for the team as they filmed in Australia.
"We were in the gym all the time together," Wilson said of training with Momoa, who had a rock wall built for himself. "It's pretty awesome watching a guy that big move up a rock wall."
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II also squares off against Momoa's Aquaman in the film. He plays Black Manta, a villain with a personal vendetta against the hero.
"No matter what or where he is, Black Manta is always looking for Aquaman," said the actor. "The interesting thing comes in with, how does he get there and who does he have to go through to get to him?"
Dolph Lundgren is in the midst of a career renaissance, with the action star reprising his role as Ivan Drago in Creed II last month and joining the DC universe as King Nereus, father to Amber Heard's Mera. Lundgren, who is from the same era of tough guys as actors like Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis, is now passing that tough-guy baton. So what does he think about how his Creed II onscreen son Florian Munteanu (a professional boxer) stacks up against Momoa after training with both of them?
"Florian is more of a fighter. Jason's physique was amazing in Aquaman. He's a climber, so he gets that narrow waist, very athletic," said Lundgren. "I was happy to work with both of them, because suddenly I felt a little smaller, which I' not used to. It was a pleasure. I'd like to do more movies with guys bigger than me."
At the crux of Aquaman is the romance between a human lighthouse keeper, Tom Curry (Morrison), and an Atlantean queen, Atlanna (Nicole Kidman), who fall in love and become parents to Arthur Curry (aka Aquaman). Morrison admitted that he was nervous to act opposite Kidman, with whom he appears digitally de-aged in the opening moments of the film.
"Nicole was very subtle to work with, very generous," he said. "I was a little nervous. … I better be on my A-game. But she relaxes you very much."
Morrison played bounty hunter Jango Fett in 2002's Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones, and now Disney is working on The Mandalorian, a streaming series that focuses on a lone gunfighter and seemingly has some connection to bounty hunters like the Fetts. The actor good-naturedly joked that he's waiting for the studio to give him a call to reprise his role for a project.
"For the day when someone wakes up over there in Disney and makes a proper Star Wars with the bounty hunter, and the bounty huntress," Morrison deadpanned. "Let's focus on my spaceship and myself and going out to get some bounty. All action! We'll see what happens."
Aquaman hits theaters Dec. 21.
by Carolyn Giardina
by Carolyn Giardina
by Frank Scheck