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Entertainment

Jason Momoa talks about fatherhood, teaching his kids to be strong

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star
Jason Momoa talks about fatherhood, teaching his kids to be strong
‘When I became a father, it changed my life because it really made me learn to take care of myself. Prior to that, I didn’t give too much thought to that. Everything’s to live for after you have babies. I’ve never learned more in my life by having children. I really don’t know what I was doing beforehand. By having children, I felt like my life was then born from that moment on.’
Netflix

Jason Momoa brought experiences from his real-life role as a father to his portrayal of a man trying to hold his family together in the action-drama Sweet Girl.

Despite a few reminders to focus questions on the film and not on the personal life, the topic on fatherhood was inevitable when The STAR recently joined a virtual interview with the Hollywood action star ahead of the movie’s global premiere on Netflix come Aug. 20. After all, the daddy-daughter theme in Sweet Girl, which is directed by his frequent collaborator and best friend Brian Andrew Mendoza, strongly resonated with the 42-year-old parent of two.

In the film, Momoa is Ray Cooper, an “ordinary” family man whose main concern is to protect his daughter Rachel (played by Isabela Merced) as he seeks justice against a pharmaceutical firm for pulling a potentially life-saving drug from the market just before his wife (Adria Arjona) dies from cancer.

“When I became a father, it changed my life because it really made me learn to take care of myself. Prior to that, I didn’t give too much thought to that. Everything’s to live for after you have babies. I’ve never learned more in my life by having children. I really don’t know what I was doing beforehand. By having children, I felt like my life was then born from that moment on,” Momoa said on how fatherhood has changed his perspective on the world.

That’s why when he first read Sweet Girl’s script, the story spoke to him and made him reflect on how he would respond should he find himself in the same situation as that of his character.

“What would I do? How would I feel about it? What measures would I take into my own hands? Obviously, we took things really far in the film, and we have some amazing twists that I’ve never seen before, but there are some parts of this movie that just rip your heart out, too. I had to go to some pretty gnarly places I’ve never been to before, especially in the beginning of the film.”

The actor, best known for playing Khal Drogo in the Game of Thrones and the superhero Aquaman, said that shooting Sweet Girl was easily the hardest thing he has had to do to date.

“I’m playing an everyday man without any superpowers — just a guy trying to keep his family together — and it’s emotional. It’s a horrible feeling when a father can’t protect his family.”

Asked during the roundtable chat if he learned anything new in the film that he could use in his daddy duties, he answered, “If anything, I feel like I’m not sure what I’ve learned that I would bring to my kids necessarily, so I hope we’re never on the run and have to kill anyone. But as far as, like, teaching my daughter how to protect herself, she’s getting really, really good at it. She’s actually beating up on me. So, I think there’s a lot of things that I’ve just brought from my own personal life into it (the film). It’s just how you see me as a father.”

Momoa further said, “And this is, you know, not too far from what I’m probably really like in normal life. But under the circumstances, (my character) is a little bit more of a downer. I’m more of a playful cat (as a father). But if I were in his position, this is how I’d be.”

The actor has said in past interviews that he has always wanted to be a dad in a film. One thing he liked about being one in Sweet Girl was how it somehow mirrored what a parent’s role in a child’s life should be.

“I mean, you wanted to be the person, who, you know, obviously gets her through all those tough times, who is a voice of reason... Me wanting to be a dad and this too, is just, you know... I really, really loved seeing scenes of us boxing and playing. And teaching my kid how to do this and how to teach her how to be strong, I really like those moments.”

In a separate one-on-one interview, director Mendoza said that Momoa displayed an emotional side of him in the film that audiences had never seen him do in his previous works. No spoilers here, but there’s one scene that got so emotional, it even made his buddies cry, Momoa mused.

It was also the hardest scene to execute throughout the film, the actor recalled, “because you get in that headspace over and over and over. And if the camera messes up or hits something, and we have to do it again, you have to go through the whole process again.”

Plus, he never had to do anything like that before in a movie or “really in life to that level.”

“So, that was definitely the hardest. And it’s fun to watch it. I’ve watched it with quite a few friends, and they got pissed because they don’t want to cry watching with me and they hate to cry. So, it’s always fun to make your buddies cry,” he shared with a laugh.

Besides identifying with what was going on in Ray’s life, Momoa is particularly proud of where they shot the film. Eighty percent of its featured locations around Pittsburgh were real. “Obviously, dealing with the pharmaceutical companies, the politics and the like, so our location was everything.”

He was all praises for the cast, especially Isabela whom he treated like his own daughter and family member. “The cast, you know, we wanted from the very beginning. I don’t think there was too much of a casting process. We knew what we wanted.”

Now, what’s a Jason Momoa film without what he does best, a.k.a. the fight scenes?

For Sweet Girl, he got to train and collaborate again with the stunt team named 87Eleven which has trained him since he was 26 or 27. “I’ve been with them pretty much through Game of Thrones and Conan the Barbarian, to Bullet in the Head and Aquaman,” he said.

“As far as the action goes in this movie, it was fun because I didn’t wanna use a gun. I thought it would be out of character. Ray wouldn’t use a gun to take out his revenge. So, we had to get really creative with the ways that we did the fight sequences, which, if you’ve seen the film, adds another layer of complexity to everything.”

Asked what else makes the film worth-watching, Momoa said, “Well, I’m gonna say one thing: Guns ‘N f**king Roses, how rad was that,” referring to the iconic rock band’s song Sweet Child of Mine being used for the film.

“Aside from me, aside from the movie, that was Netflix and I saw them get the trailer out, I was so pumped. That was like a huge bucket list stuff being able to have Guns ‘N Roses on our trailer. I think when people see the trailer, they’re like, ‘Alright, cool. It’s Momoa, we’re seeing action, let’s see this,’ and we kick into the first 15 minutes and you’re like, ‘Why am I crying? Why do I want to go give it like… now this is my family. I don’t like this. And yes, this is going on in our world.’ And then you buckle up. And then you get that little twist on it. And you’re like, yeah, dear, I didn’t see that coming! So, hopefully it’s gonna be a great movie.”

NETFLIX

SWEET GIRL

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