STACK spoke with the stars of the DC movie poised to make a big splash in cinemas.
Aquaman has long been considered the trickiest of comic book characters to bring to the big screen, easy prey to unintentional humour. But today embodied in the brawny physique of Jason Momoa and deftly directed by James Wan, they somehow make it look effortless.
“James asked me to take the dorkiest character and make him the coolest. Only the audiences can tell us if we’ve achieved that,” reflects Momoa today.
Filmed in his native Australia, Wan smartly took much of the action out of the ocean and onto dry land, allowing his characters to breath, and revealing Aquaman’s origin story as half-human Arthur Curry.
National treasure Nicole Kidman is cast as Aquaman’s mum, Atlanna, alongside Amber Heard’s warrior Mera, Aquaman’s only ally throughout his journey. Willem Dafoe also pops up as Vulko, council to the Atlantean throne.
Chatting with the cast in West Hollywood, Momoa downplays his machismo, laughing as he describes filming in a water tank at Village Roadshow Studios in Queensland.
“[Amber is] a trooper because I’m the biggest pussy, I’ve got to admit,” laughs this tattooed, bejeweled, bearded hunk of a man indicating his gorgeous sidekick, both of whom we’ve glimpsed in Justice League. “I’m probably the drama queen on the whole set. I would get in and out of my suit the moment they said cut. And this poor woman stayed in it the whole time.”
Given that their characters do little underwater time, instead filming on green screen hanging from harnesses, the costume and make-up process was intense.
“People would ask me how annoying it was to be soaking wet all the time and I would have to reply, ‘Actually, it’s the driest I’ve ever been in my career’,” quips Heard.
Of course, you can’t be in a Aquaman movie without dipping your toes in the water. “They built me this little grate on top of a box, and they’d just hose me down basically. There’s something odd about a grown woman being hosed down for her job.”
Momoa has nothing but respect for his screen mum, Kidman. “Working with her was one of the greatest highlights of my career. She had to wear some pretty gnarly outfits in some pretty cold conditions; soaked to the bone, and do scenes with me over and over. And James definitely likes to do a lot of takes.
“She came in and brought the best out of me. Because it was the moment where I see my mother, I went from running up a beach like I’m going to kill this thing to going like, ‘Mommy!’” he recalls.
Momoa was possibly born to play this role. “I’m pretty good in the water,” he admits.
“I’m Hawaiian. I’ve been raised in it. I’ve drowned and had my ass handed to me. I’ve been given gifts from the ocean and I want to continue to protect it.”
If audiences witnessed his tough side in Game of Thrones and Conan the Barbarian, then he hopes Aquaman shows a different version. “You can’t just be this rigid thing. I think to be a sensitive alpha male is to be a real leader,” says the actor who was delighted to return to Australia to film Aquaman.
“I actually lived in Adelaide for a couple of years. I love it up there. I shot a movie on the Gold Coast. So I was really happy to go back and bring my kids this time.”
Admittedly, Momoa has been waiting for this day a long time.
“I signed on about seven years ago with Zack Snyder. Back then I never thought we’d be doing a solo movie but then James took over and brought it to the next level.
“James is a sleeper, like a magician. You don’t really know what he’s cooking, but I think he’s going to surprise everyone.”
Aquaman is in cinemas on Boxing Day.