Even though Lionsgate and the gang aren’t presenting Conan the Barbarian at Comic-Con, the major cast members were on hand to promote the film. First is this interview Jason Momoa did with with the Vancouver Sun:
SAN DIEGO — At a pop culture convention brimming with superheroes and superpowers, Conan stands alone. No mutant healing factor or radioactive spider bites required: Conan the Barbarian is a hero who has never needed anything more than his wits and a trusty broadsword.
First introduced by pulp fiction writer Robert E. Howard in 1932 and brought to life in the 1982 film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Conan is about get a big-screen reincarnation in the form of the Hawaiian-born Jason Momoa.
Momoa is one of the biggest stars of this year’s annual ComicCon, and he owes it all to embracing his inner savage. Momoa was a highly-anticipated presence on HBO’s panel for Game of Thrones, the acclaimed series in which he played the primal warrior king Khal Drogo. His work on Thrones has paved the way for audiences to accept him as the ultimate barbarian, Conan of Cimmeria.
“Oh, they hate me,” he said of Conan fans’ initial reaction to his casting. “Everyone’s like, ‘Who? Baywatch? Stargate?’ It’s like, ‘I can do more than that.’
“Once Game of Thrones came out, people were like ‘holy sh—’, Conan is going to be badass,” Momoa said in an interview at ComicCon. “After seeing Drogo, they were like ‘all right, this guy can do it.'”
For more, including videos and other bits & pieces, click after the break.
Before being cast as the two barbarians, Momoa was probably most known for stints on the TV series Baywatch and Stargate: Atlantis. He said Conan and Drogo are different beasts altogether.
“This is a lone warrior,” he said of Conan. “At any given time he could take over a kingdom, but he wouldn’t know how to run a kingdom. (Conan) is just a pirate, a thief, he’s also more adolescent, too. Drogo is just this silverback, he’s this monster of a man and he has to have this certain air of elegance about him … but to carry yourself around like that (was) difficult. I’m not used to being the king.”
During the Thrones panel, Momoa did reveal one tidbit that Conan fans might dispute. When asked who would win in a battle between the two skilled fighters, Momoa was far from neutral.
“Between you and me, Drogo would kick Conan’s ass,” he said before yelling a Dothraki war cry into the microphone.
As for Conan, Momoa admits he’s never watched Schwarzenegger’s original film or its sequel.
“I’ve never played a role that had already been played before and I really don’t feel that I would need to see Arnold’s performance to help me with mine. There is so much source material, tonnes of stories, comic books and the (art was) big for me. I wanted to build my character from the ground up.”
Momoa said he studied Conan stories and artwork to help shape his performance.
“It’s movement to me, all movement,” he said of the character. “In those Dark Horse (Comics) . . . I tried to train my body and (do) stance work. Also the way he prowled, I felt like he was just a big cat, so I went and studied lions and watched how lions and panthers moved . . . I also studies a lot of old samurai movies, I wanted to be able to wield a broadsword like a samurai sword . . . and having to shave your body and put 20 pounds of weight on absolutely changes the way you move.”
Conan was shot in Bulgaria, where the landscape lent itself to recreating Conan’s pre-historic world. Ironically, Momoa shot Conan before his turn in Game of Thrones, though the HBO series reached audiences first. Momoa had to be in peak physical form for the role, but admitted he let things go a bit for Drogo.
“I got to play Drogo right after Conan,” he said. “Conan’s a big drinker, but you’ve got to keep the abs and that’s hard. You just eat boiled chicken and raw meat and you can’t drink as much. When I got (the part of) Drogo, I was like pizza, beer, pasta. I went straight to Rome.”
Producer Fredrik Malmberg said it was a drawn-out process for the film to find their Conan, auditioning nearly 150 people around the world,
“It was a little funny because either they were huge, muscular and couldn’t act or they were scrawny and it was like “that’s not really Conan.”
And one of those auditions was Jason but he was in Stargate: Atlantis at the time, so he had dreadlocks and he had this beard and he’s got this deep voice.”
Malmberg said it was director Marcus Nispel who watched Momoa’s audition tape and knew he had his Conan immediately. Soon after, everyone was convinced.
“He’s just a natural barbarian,” Malmberg said.
When asked what draw the sword and sorcery film might have for a female audience, Conan co-star Rachel Nichols did not hesitate.
“I think it’s Jason’s abs,” she said.
“I think I’ve got about four good reasons why,” Momoa followed with a big grin and a burst of laughter, while moving to begin slowly unbuttoning the rest of his collared shirt. “One . . . two . . . three.”
Momoa’s mighty abs aside, fans of realistic combat scenes will also be drawn to film. Producers wanted as much of the film grounded in the real world — they can expect the 3-D fight scenes to feel up close and personal. And there may be more to come; Momoa said he is signed on to do sequels.
“(There are) so many more adventures we could do,” Momoa said. “I love the fact that he’s not this superhero . . . I love the fact that he’s a self-made man, he is a thief, he is a pirate, he loves his drink, he’s just this barbarian. He’s a man’s man. I liked playing that.”
Conan the Barbarian in 3D’s Facebook pages has photographs of the cast signing autographs at Comic-Con:
Youtube also offered up this video interview with Ron Perlman, who briefly touches upon Conan (and namedrops Howard, go Ron!):
Two from Collider, the first being with Jason Momoa:
What do you geek out for? I mean, if anything…
Momoa: What do I geek out for? My wife… My wife… ummm, what do I geek out for? You know what’s kind of neat? Is being an actor, I geek out from time to time, doing whatever I’m doing in the sense of… I geeked the fuck out when I got Conan. So I dived into it. And you learn as much as you can and then you play it. And then I wanted to learn about samurais, and I geek out and watched every movie about samurais… I’m kind of ADD in that sense where if I start liking something, I’ll just learn it to the absolute max.
You’ve been a part of Game of Thrones, and now with Conan. Did you get to swing any live steel, as they call it in the book?
Momoa: Did I get to swing a proper? Yeah. I actually got to swing a proper sword and it was so sharp… I chopped a big knot. It’s one of those big, huge ropes that we tied a gigantic knot in, and we just hit it and it completely… just absolutely, like butter. Samurai swords are amazing. It’s just unbelievable.
Momoa: You can clean swipe someone’s femur like right off them. It’s insane.
Well, for Conan, for the role, you’re going to be working with a lot of swords… did you get any blisters on your hands? I can see doing long takes, several times…
Momoa: You know what? I grew up rock climbing. It’s my sport for 17 years so my hands are pretty rough. It’s one of those things where… never the blisters on my hands. It was always my knuckles were always banged up. You’d always seethe between these big fights and you’d always ding stuff. So my hands were always bleeding on the outside, but inside I already have pretty big calluses.
Obviously this role was played by Arnold Schwarzenegger.
[Laughs] Yeah. How much pressure did you feel to gain some weight or was it just, “You know what? F*** it. I’m going to do this.”
Momoa: No. I think I took the role on as absolutely, “F*** it.” In the sense that, I can never be Arnold and Arnold could never be me. He’s not going to represent what I’m going to represent. And it’s just like; he made something that was beautiful. It’s like saying; Sean Connery in Bond is amazing. And Daniel Craig… he’s fucking amazing too. You can’t compare the two. They’re both the same characters. And I think what I offer is something completely different than Arnold so I feel no pressure on that at all. In fact, I embrace it because I knew I had something I could offer and bring to the table.
The second is with Rachel Nichols:
One thing to note is that this Conan film is full of bloodshed and gore. However, it does have an interesting look and feel compared to the original. If you’re interested, look for Conan the Barbarian to be released August 19th.
Yes, it is warm out. Obviously Jason got in shape for this role. Not to say that he wasn’t in shape before, but he bulked up a little bit. It’s obvious. Did you feel, “Hey, he’s bulking up, maybe I should work out a little.” I mean, you’re in great shape already…
Nichols: Well, Tamara, when you stumble across her, in her introduction she’s a monk. She’s in this monastery. And she does seem to have this innate ability to grab a knife or sword and fight and do all that sort of very physical stuff. And I didn’t exactly up my workouts or… Like, for GI Joe, I totally upped my workouts. I put on 10 pounds of muscle. I really went all out. For this one, less so, but I’m someone that works out five times a week anyway.
The girl fights are constantly brought up. This is the second straight film that I will have seen you in where you literally have a knockdown, drag out fight. Is it just something so fun about that? I mean, you’re not an aggressive person in real life?
Nichols: [Laughs] No. [Laughs]
So is it just fun to get that out?
Nichols: It’s really fun. It’s one of the most fun things. Sienna and I had the luxury of literally six weeks of training. The fight scene that we had, when they cut down and edited it, it was shortened a little bit. It was originally like a 90 move fight scene. We learned it. We had a blast… falling on each other’s faces, accidentally kicking each other. And it was great. And with that, I didn’t have the luxury of doing that with Rose [McGowan] on this film, but girl fights are dope. I love them. I think they’re cool. Boys like them. Girls like them. I like this one the best, because I get to win…
Ah, there it is. There it is.
Nichols: Sienna… Sienna… beat… really Sienna? Baroness beats up Scarlett? Really? But, yea. This one was great. Rose and I had a good time with it.
Were you a Conan fan before or was this kind of your introduction to…
Nichols: All new.
So you jumped all the way in…
Nichols: I just all the way in. Haven’t seen the original. Still haven’t seen the original. You know, Jason and I both wanted to go into it sort of blind because it can affect you if you see a movie you’re supposed to go in to revamp or update or whatever. So we both kind of went in blind. And we’re both now going to see the movie and I’m happy that we chose to do it that way so that anything we brought to the table came from within us. And Jay did a lot of research, so I have to give him credit for that.
Well, speaking of the research, how much reading were you required to do and how much did you do on your own?
Nichols: Mine was much less than Jay’s. Jay and I are both visual. I prefer to look at some of the graphic art and some of the comic books. He went all out… decorated his trailer in this way. I mean, he was in just in it. It was amazing to see because it improved my performance on set because he was so in it. There was a lot more for Conan to do.
Was there any difficulty in the shooting location? You’ve mentioned y’all shot in Bulgaria? What was that experience like?
Nichols: Um… Bulgaria is an interesting country. The people are lovely. There are potholes the size of small planets.
Nichols: And the number of stray dogs is really… I want to bring the ASPCA to Bulgaria. But it was perfect for the movie, I’ll say that. All the sets that we went to… The Black Sea, and the studio, and the locations. We were in Bulgaria for three different seasons. There was snow, there was sun… it was the perfect place to shoot a movie like Conan. I probably wont be going there on vacation, but I would go back on another film.
Epix News has a sit-down interview featuring Jason in a new hat (which is also sweet):
Rose McGowan has an interview with G4 where she discusses Marique’s costume, the extent of makeup and costuming, her experience in Bulgaria, and enjoying getting stuck in with her broadsword.
And Stephen Lang is interviewed for Attack of the Show, mostly about Terra Nova, but he also touches on Conan:
That’s all for another day, folks!