Conan The Barbarian,

I meet Conan The Barbarian,we arm wrestle and he snaps the Riddle of Steel in two

Thursday, July 28, 2011 Craig Grobler 0 Comments

I meet Conan the BarbarianA little while back I was invited on behalf of Live for Films along to a very special cocktail evening to meet Conan The Barbarian. Yes, you read that right, CONAN THE BARBARIAN! or rather Jason Momoa the actor playing Conan in Liongate's upcoming Conan The Barbarian feature film.

The invite had details of where (the very swanky Haymarket Hotel, London) when (6:30-8:30pm) and very little else apart from the opportunity to submit questions for Conan I mean Jason that may possibly be included in a video session of Jason answering 20 Fan Questions for Conan.

Wow! As I’m a long time fan of Millius’ 1982 Conan the Barbarian, in fact – it is one of my favourite films of all time. For me Director John Millius’ detailed vision combined with Arnold Schwarzenegger embodying not only the physical aspects of Conan but almost prophetically his ambition to fulfil a destiny of rising way above his station transcends the fantasy / Swords & Sorcery genre.

So whilst I have some niggling fears about the new Conan the Barbarian I am eager to see the lands of Hyboria visited again in further adventures. And this sounded like an incredible opportunity to get to know Jason Momoa as well as get some insight into the August 2011 release of Conan the Barbarian.
Conan the Barbarian

A vengeful barbarian warrior sets off to get his revenge on the evil warlord who attacked his village and murdered his father when he was a boy.

Marcus Nispel


Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer, Sean Hood, Robert E. Howard

Jason Momoa, Ron Perlman, Rose McGowan

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Conan the Barbarian Poster
Conan the Barbarian Poster ZOOM
So with that in mind I threw some questions together for Jason Momoa.

- Has Jason read any of Robert E. Howard’s Conan books, any of the comics or seen the previous films? If so which has he enjoyed the most and what drew him to them?

Video: Conan Redband Hard Viral

- Jason has said that he would not be emulating previous screen Conans, and we are aware that Conan the Barbarian 3D goes back to Robert E. Howard‘s original material but how, apart from the story, will Conan the Barbarian 3D be different from the previous screen versions?

- As Conan the Barbarian 3D goes back to Robert E. Howard’s original source material how, if at all, do previous Conan films fit in with its universe?

- A large part of the previous Conan the Barbarian‘s appeal to me was that Arnold Schwarzenegger seemed to embody many traits of the Conan character prior to starring in the film. What will Jason be bringing to the role and can he tell us a little about his history with Conan? And any parallels that he might be able to draw?

- Looking at Jason’s IMDB listing his resume is full of sci-fi and fantasy roles. Is this somewhere he feels very comfortable? And what draws him to these types of roles?

- What influences did Jason draw on to get him into the mindset of Conan?

- What does Jason feel a Conan film needs to be, to engage, captivate and excite audiences today?

- Jason is fairly sporty and certainly looks the part of Conan, so I was wondering what, if any, special training did he undergo to prepare himself for the physical side of the Conan role?

- A film like Conan the Barbarian 3D must be physically demanding to make. Did he sustain any injuries while filming?

- Has Jason seen Marcus Nispel’s previous films (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th, Pathfinder) what did he think of them? And what does Marcus Nispel brings to Conan the Barbarian 3D?

- Would he mind having an arm wrestle with me? I’m serious, who wouldn’t want to arm wrestle the mighty CONAN?

- What does Jason feel the rest of the cast brought to Conan the Barbarian 3D? And who did he bond with the most?

Can Jason share any tales of on set shenanigans or pranks that were played while filming?

Did Jason know that Conan was of of Atlantean descendent when he was considering the role of Conan? And if so does he feel a bond with the character?

Without spoiling it, can Jason tell us his favourite scene or moment in Conan the Barbarian 3D. And which he enjoyed filming the most?

The bulk of my questions are enablers to allow some context to be set as well as hopefully spark some discussion that offers up gold nuggets of insight into both Jason and what to expect from the upcoming Conan the Barbarian. If you think, you detect a subtle undercurrent of caution with regards Conan the Barbarian in my questions. You would be right. I am not entirely convinced, as yet that the new Conan may be the greatest thing since, something that I really like and revolutionised things for me. But I’m optimistic and hoping to be blown away come August 24, 2011.

Whether Jason actually answers any of my questions remains to be seen. Many other bloggers and fans submitted questions. So no doubt all questions will be grouped, doubles removed, vetted, prioritised and vetted again till Jason has 20 decent semi intelligent questions to answer.

I had assumed that the evening may follow a similar format to An evening with Dolph Lundgren that I was fortunate enough to go along to last December. And whilst it was incredible evening – listening to an erudite and clever child hood hero of mine answering questions and chatting –  it did feel slightly impersonal.
So there was the possibility that the evening might be a hosted QA session, wherein Jason answers 20 questions put forward. In fact this is lifted out of an email to Live For Film’s Editor Phil on the way to the event “Hopefully it will be a little more personal than the Dolph thing a while back”. At the time I had no idea what was ahead.

So I arrive at the rather spiffy Haymarket Hotel and I’m directed to The Shooting Gallery, a large hall like event room. As I walk into the Shooting Gallery I immediately come face to chest with a large Conan standee. It’s the same image as the motion poster released a while back of Conan standing on a pile of skulls.

This is based on possibly the most iconic Conan image “Conan The Barbarian” (1966) from comic illustrator turned legendary fantasy artist Frank Frazetta. Which is a nice homage as Frazetta passed away about a year ago. The image was created for Conan the Adventurer the first in a successful series of Conan novels published from 1966, a year after author Robert E. Howard passed away. Fans still maintain that Conan’s success came squarely down to the imagery conveyed in Frazetta’s cover. Such is the raw power of the imagery that it was used in early promotions for Milius’ Conan The Barbarian.

Conan The Barbarian 1981 concept Poster
Conan The Barbarian 1981 concept Poster
As I arrived right on time – the room is still slowly filling up. The Shooting Gallery is very tastefully decorated in a minimalistic hunting theme, which all makes sense. I feel at home, as there are, what I assume African pieces as well as English hunting style sculptures around. There is also a well stocked bar at the end of the room and scattered around the room on various tables, anthologies of Robert E Howard’s Conan short stories.

As I’m alone I immediately start making friends with some of the other people in the room (do not be alarmed this is quite normal in other countries) – who show me the new Conan The Barbarian poster (which is suitably badass and looks to be based on Frank Frazetta’s 1971 Conan The Destroyer), thankfully the event organisers find me, as well as some familiar faces I know turn up. Eventually the online people are grouped together and we are all suitably geeky so I make some new friends.

Jason Momoa Conan The Barbarian Poster
Jason Momoa Conan The Barbarian Poster ZOOM
It turns out that Lionsgate are true to their word, this really is an evening of cocktails and meeting the new Conan Jason Momoa. Jason will be arriving shortly, meeting groups of people and having an informal chat. I’m immediately blown away by this. This is incredible! I am actually quite possibly going to meet CONAN! Lionsgate really have delivered in aces this time and pulled something spectacular together.

As we discuss the merits of George Lucas’ 3 Star Wars films. Greedo shooting first, the brilliance of John Millius’ Conan, how bad the sequel was, latest releases, best new films out, The Hunger Games, Dredd, Karl Urban, Pathfinder, Marcus Nispel, Friday the 13th, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Stathamthon, Jason Momoa, Robert E Howard’s Conan, Solomon Kane, the marketing materials for the Conan so far. As well as just enjoying the moment brought on by the anticipation of the evenings events. You know as film geeks do.

Eventually Jason Momoa arrives, we know he arrived because his 6’4 frame towers above almost everyone in the room, he is wearing a distinctive bowler hat and most of the ladies seem to have migrated in the same direction at the same time. The buzz in the room reaches near fever pitch, seriously I had thought the room must have been packed to capacity and then some but checking my photos afterwards it was actually fairly intimate and exclusive gathering.

Jason makes his way around the room chaperoned between parties and groups and manages to pick up a really cool, black leather-bound hardcover edition of Robert E. Howard’s The Complete Chronicles Of Conan on the way. I have to say while Jason made his way around the room it was clear that he was taking care of the book and felt some bond with it.

Eventually we are presented to Jason and I greet him with by throwing horns and a loud Yeaaaa!! (This bit was in my head). Hells yea! I’m meeting Conan.

Thankfully he doesn’t leave me hanging and Yea’s me back with a big smile. We are introduced to him, he has firm handshake with no hint of having to compensate by trying to crush my hand. We chat for about 5 minutes during which it becomes apparent that Jason is energetic, earthy and overall a warm happy person, very un-like the blunt and brutal savage that he will hopefully be portraying in Conan the Barbarian.

Physically he is big, but a fit and toned panther like big not a balloon muscle big. Despite his impossibly broad shoulders he moves with ease and is obviously very in touch and comfortable with his physicality, as one would expect. Dark intense eyes peer from underneath the brim of his bowler and long dark hair. On the right side of his face is a barely noticeable scar that he picked up (in my understanding a very one sided) bar fight a couple of years ago.

On his left fore arm is a very visible and large bracelet like tattoo made up of triangles that wraps around his entire forearm, this signifies his family’s Aumakua, Hawaiian spirit protector, the shark, the triangles are symbolic of shark’s teeth. On the underside of his right forearm is a relatively more subtle tattoo that looks like a dotted line running up the back of his arm. And he is wearing a thin thread on his wrist.

His voice is full of life and varies instantly from low, slow thoughtful and raspy to contagiously raucous enthusiasm with a slight twang that I can’t quite place, possibly L.A? Hawaii? Canada?

As my photos would later reveal he can also switch from merriment and smiles to instant bad ass. If you look at the photo at the top of the page - we were joking around and laughing. Click, the photo is taken and we carry on chatting.At no point did I get hint of the Conan like face he was pulling. It’s the same Conan face from one of the earlier released official set photos. Which I assumed was mostly film makeup. No! It’s all him.

During our chat with Jason we discussed various subjects, unfortunately not in any great depth as we had limited time with him and this was a fairly casual conversation. During our chat we found out that:

- Jason landed the role of Conan as when he auditioned for the role of Khal Drogo the savage king in Game of Thrones, by chance the casting director was also casting for Conan the Barbarian and after going off to do Game of Thrones he tested for Conan and bada bing bada boom here he is.

- With his Conan role being so physically demanding he trained by pulling cows ;) and did lots of weights. He also went to special training boot camps as well as undertook samurai training to hone his sword skills. And he feels pretty Kick ass – so we can expect some bad ass sword fights. He did mention that if he a sword of some sort, pretty much all our heads would be off. Again he was joking (I think).

Earlier today I had a look around some of his earlier Stargate Atlantis stuff (which I haven’t watched at all) and too be honest it looks like Jason can handle himself very well in both the hand to hand as well as sword fight stakes. So I’m unsure of exactly how much additional training he may have actually needed.

Jason Momoa: “The riddle of steel? I don’t know that. But not a lot of people know this, and no offense to the Arnold films but I haven’t seen them. I know everyone is like WTF when I say that.

I was about 2 years old when the first one came out and it wasn’t really childhood viewing. Also I was a bit complicated, to this day I don’t have a cell phone, I don’t have a computer, I don’t have e-mail, I don’t have a TV. But I love to read. It’s barbaric but it’s easy for me to move around that way.
Also growing up both my parents were artists so I loved painting, I grew up with Frank Frazetta’s Conan paintings and I love those paintings but I didn’t see the movies.”

OK! I assumed that the riddle of steel was an integral part of Robert E. Howard‘s Conan. But after digging around it turns out the riddle of steel was never actually mentioned in the books at all.
The fact that Jason knew that the riddle of steel was only created for the previous films and not part of Howard’s Conan mythos - tells me he knows a fair amount about the source material. But more importantly I really didn’t expect his answer. At best I expected Jason to say something like I’ve studied the films and blah, blah, blah …. and at the very least I thought some sort of appeasing hat tip to the previous films would be made.

But with his answer Jason Momoa let me know that he was his own person and that the previous Conans may have had their place but with respect – this is his Conan. His uncompromising take on the issue did go some of the way to clearing some of the doubts that I had about the new Conan.

Through the remainder of the evening and today I mulled this over and too be honest I am immensely impressed with Jason’s take on the whole thing. By the end of the evening this one answer had pretty much moved me from being fairly suspicious of Conan the Barbarian to actually having my first tingles of – hey Conan the Barbarian might actually be a damn seriously bad ass film. By the time I am writing this I’ll be seeing Conan for one reason and one reason alone to see Jason Momoa’s Conan kick ass. On the negative side of this – my expectations are moving into that place that where the disappointment dragons lurk and I subsequently watched both the teaser as well as the trailer in excitement.

By the way the answer to the riddle of steel is that: Flesh is stronger than steel.

Then I made a huge mistake and asked him:

Jason Momoa: “No, no yet. They haven’t shown me anything yet.”

Bad move on my part as, at this point I drop out of the conversation while I frantically search the internet on my phone for a decent version of the poster, only to find more after the jumps… and cut off versions. Eventually I decide I would rather chat with Conan than pour over the pic on my too small to do the poster justice phone. Still would have been cool.

Then I ask:
Jason Momoa: “This, all of this”.

Now reading that off the page is not going to have the same effect as a muscular 6’4 guy raising himself to his entire length, flexing his muscles in a menacing pose while he locks eyes with you and booms “THIS, ALL OF THIS”.

And then just as quickly he cracks a smile and we all start laughing. With that we say our good byes, pleased to meet yous and Jason is dragged off to meet more people. However a little later on I managed to catch up with and ask if we could have a quick arm wrestle, which he is happy to do.

Only when looking at the picture afterwards did I see the expression on his face. Up until that point I had assumed that this look, the same menacing look that he has in the official photo released a little while back was Jason caked in film makeup to make him look more Conan like. No! That’s all him

Oh! Who won? I hear you say. Let’s just call it a draw till we meet again. And with that he was off into the crowd mingling with others

Jason Momoa left me with the reinforced picture I already had of him, that he is an energetic, earthy zen like guy very in touch with the spiritual side of things. He also impressed me by coming across as his own person without having to be arrogant or with faux humility and most of all left me in no doubt that he is going to be one great Conan the Barbarian.

I’m hoping that before Conan is unleashed onto screens this August that Lionsgate adopt some very brash and confident marketing in line with the 1966 tagline used to sell Conan books. The one where it is promised that Conan is “A hero mightier than Tarzan with adventures more imaginative than “Lord of the Rings!

So whilst I have some niggling fears about the new Conan the Barbarian I am eager to see the lands of Hyboria visited again in further adventures. And this sounded like an incredible opportunity to get to know Jason Momoa as well as get some insight into the August 2011 release of Conan the Barbarian.

Lionsgate Presents Conan the Barbarian on August 24th.

“I live.  I love.  I slay… I am content.”

Directed By Marcus Nispel. Starring Jason Momoa as Conan, plus Rachel Nichols, Stephen Lang, Rose McGowan, Said Taghmaoui and Ron Perlman.

The colossal legend that is CONAN THE BARBARIAN is back this Summer. Having thrived and evolved for eight decades in the public imagination - in prose and graphics, on the big screen and small - Conan’s exploits in the Hyborian Age now come alive like never before. Shot in 3D, the reimagining of one man’s mythical battle for revenge is finally here in this Epic action-adventure film. A quest that begins as a personal vendetta for the fierce Cimmerian warrior soon turns into an epic battle against hulking rivals, horrific monsters, and impossible odds, as Conan realises he is the only hope of saving the great nations of Hyboria from an encroaching reign of supernatural evil. Deftly adapted from the original works of Robert E. Howard and faithful to the mythology and psychology of his iconic character, CONAN THE BARBARIAN stars Jason Momoa, Rachel Nichols, Stephen Lang, Rose McGowan, Said Taghmaoui and Ron Perlman. The film is directed by Marcus Nispel, and written by Thomas Dean Donnelly & Joshua Oppenheimer and Sean Hood.

Meet Jason Momoa a photoset
Craig Grobler
Craig's a retired superhero, an obsessive hobbyist, comics fan, gadget lover & flâneur who knows an unhealthy amount about Ian Fleming's James Bond.

When not watching or making films he takes pictures, eats, drinks, dives, mentally storyboards the greatest film ever made & sometimes utilises owl-themed gadgets to fight crime. 

A list of his 133 favourite films can be found hereIf you would still like to contact Craig please use any of the buttons below: 

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