Jason Momoa did not appreciate an “icky” question about a Game of Thrones rape scene.
The Aquaman and Dune actor, 42, was asked by the New York Times about the pilot of the HBO show, which saw his character, Khal Drogo, sexually assault Daenerys, played by Emilia Clarke, on their wedding night. Momoa played the role from 2011 to 2012.
After it was noted that the show, which ended in 2019, “inspired a lot of discussion about its depiction of scenes of sexual assault and its treatment of women generally,” he was asked if he has “any regrets” about how he played the role.
“Well, it was important to depict Drogo and his style,” Momoa replied. “You’re playing someone that’s like Genghis Khan. It was a really, really, really hard thing to do. But my job was to play something like that, and it’s not a nice thing, and it’s what that character was. It’s not my job to go, ‘Would I not do it?’ I’ve never really been questioned about ‘Do you regret playing a role?’ We’ll put it this way: I already did it. Not doing it again.”
However, as the interview wrapped, Momoa revisited the topic with the reporter, David Marchese.
“I wanted to bring something up that left a bad feeling in my stomach,” he said. “When you brought up Game of Thrones, you brought up stuff about what’s happening with my character and would I do it again. I was bummed when you asked me that. It just feels icky — putting it upon me to remove something [from the script].”
He continued, “As if an actor even had the choice to do that. We’re not really allowed to do anything. There are producers, there are writers, there are directors, and you don’t get to come in and be like, ‘I’m not going do that because this isn’t kosher right now and not right in the political climate.’ That never happens.”
He ended by saying, “So it’s a question that feels icky. I just wanted you to know that.”
Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin wrote the sex scene as consensual in his book, though showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss changed it for the pilot. Martin was not supportive of the decision to change that scene, saying, “It made it worse, not better.”
Benioff defended it in the behind-the-scenes GoT oral history Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon, “Here’s a girl who is absolutely terrified of this barbarian warlord she’s being married off to, it’s the last thing in the world she wants, yet somehow by the end of this wedding night she seems to be in a completely joyful sexual relationship with him. It didn’t entirely work for us.”
And Weiss noted that while the first sex scene between Daenerys and Drogo was consensual in Martin’s books, later sex scenes in it were assaults, leading to the change.
Clarke said on Armchair Expert in 2019 that she had “fights” on the set demanding that a sheet cover her exposed body and being asked if she wanted to “disappoint” her GoT fans. “I’m like, ‘F*** you.'”
She made the point that Momoa, who left the show early in its run, protected her on the set as an acting newcomer with so many nude scenes.
“It was definitely hard,” she said. “Which is why the scenes, when I got to do with Jason, were wonderful, because he was like, ‘No, sweetie, this isn’t OK,’” when too much was being asked of her, “And I was like, ‘Ohhhh.’”
Clarke said that Momoa “took care of me in an environment in which I didn’t know I needed to be taken care of.” She recalled him asking someone on the set, “Can we get her f***ing robe? She’s shivering.’ … He was so kind and considerate and cared about me as a human being.”
She said in her post-GoT career, “things are very, very, very different and I’m a lot more savvy with what I’m comfortable with and what I am OK with doing.”