Secaucus, New Jersey
November 3-5, 2006
© 2006 Wraithfodder
Disclaimer: Please note these transcripts were done from shorthand notes, so there may be errors. Also, material is copyright so feel free to link to it but please do not copy and post elsewhere because I will most likely be editing text as folks point out mistakes or add to it. Thanks!
a) Casting Seminar with Ivy
b) Colin Cunningham
c) Carmen Argenziano
d) Alex Zahara
i) Autographs with Alex and Dan
e) Teryl Rothery
i) Jason Momoa Photo Op
f) Jason Momoa
g) Autographs: Colin, Teryl, Carmen, Jason
h) Dessert Party
f) Jason Momoa
Jason’s got stage presence. He’s tall, rangy and moves with a fluidity that makes the rest of us look, well, pretty blah ;) He looks a lot like Ronon in dress style, which is his style, except he was grinning away and carrying a Michelob beer bottle with him (that the CC staff kept refreshing) and unlike the rest of the cast, preferred to sit while doing his talk. Friends who have seen him in Chicago said he’s rather mortified of the stage in front of fans, so, hence, loosening up with beer.
He came out and asked how everyone was doing (we were all thrilled, of course).
He admitted to being nervous but was happy to be there, and said that since he doesn’t own a TV, “nothing to do in a lonely hotel room, so I turn it on and s**t, there I am!” (Stargate Atlantis repeats on WWOR-TV in the NYC area). He then went to the Q&A and people flocked to the microphones.
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Question: What was the highlight of working on Stargate Atlantis so far? Jason said there were so many highlights. “Getting on the show in the first place, being in the cast. Amazing. Every single one of them, you know, Paul McGillion, who I had dinner with last night, um, Joe Flanigan… like family… I mean just being on the show in general is an honor, and as far as acting-wise this season, ‘Sateda’ (everyone applauses) Thank you.” He said it took 13 days to shoot it (normally an episode takes 7 days) so they had a lot of time and it was like a little mini film, and “it was obviously all about me [his character] so… so that was nice. Definitely a highlight doing a lot of those stunts.”
Question: Is it contractual for him to keep his hair in dreadlocks? “Can you see Ronon without it?” Jason replied incredulously. And does he get overzealous and do the stunt guys reign in any stunts he does? “My uncle’s like one of the heads of Stunts Unlimited when I was working on this other show. I did a lot of water work. I always did my own stunts and I liked them as well as acting…So I enjoy doing those things, but at the same time there are certain things like in ‘Sateda,’ where a guy threw his back into a telephone pole. When you guys see the ‘making of,’ like ‘damn,’ live footage, he had to do it twice in a way. That’s my stunt double, and I mean, I can’t do that. There’s no way. He used to play Canadian Rugby lead team…. He’s huge. He’s amazing. He just makes everything look like a train wreck, and there’s no way I can do that…. As far as - you know, you want to employ those people because that’s their art, that’s their talent so now most of the stunt people are my friends, like Dan Payne. He’s amazing, you know? And he crosses over into acting and did you guys get to meet Dan? (applause) Great guy, man. He did a great job in ‘Sateda.’” Jason then went back to the hair question. “I wouldn’t cut it anyways, but after a couple of more seasons I’m going to be like hurt, ow. My hair flips around and ow.” (from the dreadlocks)
Who is his favorite co-star? It got clarified as a person, not character. “So hard… but, I mean, Joe Flanigan is one of my best friends and Paul McGillion. I could pick more too, but those are just like my boys for life, Paul and Joe. As far as action goes, David Hewlett. (laughter from audience) Or me, one or the other.” He asked if we’d been ‘graced’ with David Hewlett’s presence yet. “Dude, he’s amazing. I laugh all day long. It makes my job so much fun. He’s so much fun in person… you just laugh and cry all day until your stomach hurts and then you want to hit him. Even if he’s in a bad mood, he’s hilarious.”
Someone asked him for a demonstration of his gun-twirling skills, so he borrowed a ‘prop gun’ from someone with a costume and did some twirling. “When I first showed up on the show, I was like a kid. So I got there, had to shoot that day, had all this football pads on, and I just grabbed this and it wasn’t really planned.” He said the gun was like solid steel, ‘so it’s at least eight pounds’ and he wasn’t used to it, but now his one finger is quite strong. He twirled the toy one briefly.
Jason said he always wanted to bring James “Bam Bam” Bamford, the stunt coordinator to the con because they’d like to do some fights on stage but “these guys [CC] are like no no.” But hopefully some day we’ll be able to see it.
How much of Ronon’s background did Jason know before that episode (“Sateda”), and will we find out more? “Good question. When I started doing the show, I kind of made up a backstory just so I’d have some place to come from but some things were cleared up – like a wife or a child… when I started I have a wife or a child or mother or parents have all been killed, so in some ways we sat down. There were things I wanted to do, at the end of my first season – second season – I wanted to see my character evolve so that he has to depend on the team for once instead of kicking the shit out of everyone… and those dreams came true and I researched that back story and it was a really fun thing to do.”
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Was Jason into SciFi before the show? No. The only scifi he watched was Star Wars when he was growing up, and not to this day. He doesn’t watch TV but he loves working on it. “My time off is spent with family, friends and I’m always traveling around and stuff,” and when he goes home, it’s to study lines, eat, sleep and go back to work.
What is the most difficult aspect of playing Ronon? Ronon “Doesn’t have the personality that I do, and I enjoy a lot of things and it’s nice to have on the show, but there certain ways I would do something as me, I wouldn’t play it as Ronon. That’s the reason why it’s so fun to play Ronon is because I wouldn’t react in those ways. It’s ‘bam,’ and he just does it. He’s just unforgiving. He’s a hardcore badass. I’m not that. Pretty much everyone here can beat me up. It’s all tricks of the camera. I’m not a tough guy…it was hard to wrap my mind around that but it’s fun playing him.”
Favorite episode? “’Sateda,’ because it’s all me,” he replied lazily. “That’s the truth. I love every episode…. “ He enjoys the action parts and anything to do with acting. Couldn’t decipher the rest.
Missed the question, but have this: “Your wife dying in your arms and getting into that head space and having people all around you while you’re doing that. You’re working something out in your life that’s not there and just really getting to do acting. I just love [it] and ‘Sateda’ is the one thing that I’ve had shine through…. Because the guy’s not a very emotional guy who is going to sit down and tell you his feelings and cry (then mentions something about punching people)… so that was the only time he got to be vulnerable and it was nice to be able to do that.”
What’s the best advice he received as an actor? “Listen. Just listen and react…like I’m doing right now, just reacting off the other person. You have so many emotions that run through you… if just listen to your gut. You get so many emotions just looking at... if they feel nervous or feel sad, happy, if someone frowns I feel sad… if you’re just aware of those, you’re free just o respond to that person in that situation. But the best thing to do is just listen and react.” He grins. “I think that’s what you do. I’m still learning.”
His daily training regimen? “Just like this,” joked Jason, lifting a beer bottle, but he does work out in the gym. He talked about Dan Payne and one of his best friends, Tom Scott (Bam Bam’s right hand man) and another guy who does sword work (Joe’s stunt double) and some amazing pieces on the second season DVD set (which we have yet to see). Then he spoke around some scene they were shooting and apparently someone (Jason?) got a broken nose but the stunt guy got clocked by an elbow in the head and got knocked out cold. He said that the fight between himself and Rainbow (in “Runner”) was done in the cold and mud at three in the morning and people everyone was sick and they were just trying to stand up in the mud and it took a long time to shoot.
Someone asked about practical jokes on the set. He said he gets razzed about Baywatch. “We do practical jokes, not as much as I’d love to do one on David [Hewlett] every day,” saying how David is even meaner than Rono(!) and one day Jason threw a bottle at David one day and nailed him around the stomach region and he said David’s “he just went black…” and Jason held up his hand and said “I’m sorry, it was an accident!” And poor Rachel Luttrell. “We pick on her on non-stop all day,” because Torri’s on Atlantis and Rachel is the only woman ‘off world’ with the guys. “Sexual harassment suits everywhere,” he joked.
There was a question about something to do with gossip, which Jason doesn’t like at all. “It’s horrible. I was on the front cover down in Australia. Me and my fiancé have been together for almost eight years,” and apparently some tabloid linked Jason to actress Shannon Doherty dancing in a nightclub or something other bulls**t, which was horrible. “Just people being hurtful. That was the first time I’d ever experienced anything like that. Just horrible.” Hates gossip. And no, he and Rachel aren’t involved (well, he used a more descriptive term).
A question about cameras and acting? He said that acting isn’t hard, due to the technical aspect, but doing stage work like he was doing right then and there was hard. With acting “you’re in that zone and everything disappears,” because you’re doing something you love. He finds doing stage work like Creation Con hard work to do. Does he ever feel goofy posing for those promotional pictures? “Oh god, yeah,” he replied in a flash. And worse, they only shoot those pictures on a Saturday, so there goes part of a weekend.
He was asked if had any control over the wardrobe. “Oh yes, extreme. When I first got there… I love the ladies in wardrobe. The bracelets, everything, all my necklaces, the shirts – I want ‘call’ on everything that I do and wear and what I want made. Everything on ‘Sateda,’ the armbands – that’s my art. I’m the one out there doing it and this is what I feel he [Ronon] would do and they love it. I love working with the ladies in the shop, and next year I want to make this really cool…” He paused, then said “You know how everybody has those flak jackets? Everyone’s dressed in black now so I wanted to make one that was like a Wraith thing, and just so I can have the sword on there, but when I rip away the panel [on front] it’s all throwing knives.” And he demonstrated the action of throwing knives. He loves the creative stuff. As for the armbands, yes, he made those, but “the ones that I wear on the show all the time - those are mine - I actually made those.” He used to make them when he was a kid to sell to people and made them from old leather.
He then asked if anyone finds a proper wolf fang, he’d wear it on the show. He pointed at the picture of Ronon on the banner. Apparently he’d had it for ten years and it broke off, gone. Couldn’t find it. They substituted a plastic one. “If you see a wolf running around…” Someone in the audience actually had a necklace (not wolf, pilot whale) that a friend didn’t want, so she gave it to Jason and she got a kiss. Then he managed to just get the necklace over all that hair and around his neck! (See photo below)
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On Star Trek, Spock took away someone’s memory. Is there any memory Jason wouldn’t want to keep? “I wouldn’t take away one thing. Not the fear, not the pain.” He then talked about his mother’s difficult life, going from Ohio to the west side of Oahu and married this big Hawaiian guy in the 70s, which was difficult. “A moment I wouldn’t ever want to forget” is stuff like when he was a little boy and danced with his mother. It was really very touching. Right now his mother is outside of Des Moines, Iowa and she came to the Chicago convention (August ’06). He loves jazz – was raised on it – and went to Buddy Guy’s. And they rented a car and went out to the jazz club and they actually got to see the singer live which was incredible. He said it was an “amazing night in Chicago”.
A fan asked about his heritage. He’s Hawaiian. “There might be a hint of Somoan in there.” His grandmother is full Hawaiian, his grandfather is almost full Hawaiian, he has a little bit of Marques(??) I think?. That name ‘Momoa’ is both Somoan and Hawaiian so it goes both ways. I think in Somoan it’s actually ‘number one’ and I know in Hawiian it means ‘big chicken,’” and he grins and holds out his arms.
Someone asked about his audition for the role. “The audition process is horrible.’ You guys haven’t read about it?” and then he said “I almost died the night before.” He got off North Shore tanked, and this was his first audition and at first he’d said no, because they were scouting around. In fact, “I actually went up for Rainbow’s role,” and then the Showtime show Jeremiah, but someone else got that. He knew the casting director liked him, but he wouldn’t cut his hair for the role of Ford, so that was that, and then he got the North Shore role but the series was axed. “When I came back, I looked at the role and you know, I didn’t know anything. I’d never seen it. I fell in love with the role (as the bartender role in North Shore had been pretty boring - “still can’t shake that roll”) …” He did want that role and auditioned and got a callback. “So, the night before, me and my buddies got f***ing hammered and we were partying in my place and someone hit the stove – and the pilot light went on.” No one noticed and he went to bed around midnight. He had a sunken floor with the kitchen above the area where he slept. He didn’t know that the headache he woke up in the middle of the night was related, so he went back to sleep, so a neighbor came down and told him to get out of the house and called 911 and got him out of the house. He was seeing black dots but still went to the audition. “It’s the most horrible thing to do. There’s this boardroom. All these people sit right in front of you. It’s a horrible process acting, I mean, auditioning.” He managed to do, despite not seeing straight and he got called back in (“I’m sitting out there [waiting area] and I passed out. I blacked out. They let everyone else go and the lady’s like ‘they need you to do it again.’ He went back in there and “I guess they ended up liking me but it was like ‘Listen, I’m sorry, I almost ended up dying and I wasn’t going to be here’” and explained what happened and did the scene again but he got the role and he said he spent the rest of the day going “That’s awesome!” and then slumping forward (passing out) “You got the role?” “Really?” (pass out) “How much?” (pass out)
Someone came up and said they didn’t watch Stargate Atlantis (they watch SG1 instead) and asked who would win in a fight, Ronon or Teal’c? “You know what? Chris Judge is like my big brother. I love him. We ain’t gonna fight. We’re just gonna get together and kick the s**t out of everyone.” He would have liked to have seen Ronon and Teal’c do something, but since SG1 the series is gone, there won’t be any crossovers, but… since they’re going to make SG1 movies, maybe he can be on one of those.
How tall is he? He’s 6’4” (and this person didn’t watch Stargate Atlantis either at which point Jason playfully got out of his seat in mock outrage) And just as she was about to ask her actual question, Jason turns back to her and says in a funny voice “I’m sorry Michael Shanks isn’t here,” which got screams of laughter from the audience. “I’m all you’ve got tonight!” What would Jason say to her to get her to watch the show? Alas, the fan has no cable. “Go to a friend’s house. Go to the computer,” he advised, and the audience told him it was on “My9” in the NYC region. Or buy it on DVD.
The third do-not-watch Stargate Atlantis person came to the microphone. She wondered how SG1’s cancellation will affect Stargate Atlantis. Stargate Atlantis is picked up for next year, said Jason. “I’m not worrying yet.” He said that SG1 was an amazing show, around for 10 years, and hopes that they like Atlantis as well. It’s up to the viewers. “Hopefully you guys like Atlantis… I’d like to be around for 10 years as well. I want it to be the best it can be. It’s basically up to you guys to turn your TV on and watch me,” he said with a grin.
Fan asked about the bracelets and costume he designs – does he have any plans to market them? “No,” he replied regretfully. He enjoys making them for himself; they’re easy to make out of old saddle leather. The left bracelet is from an old weight belt found at an army surplus. And if he makes it for a friend, he likes to personalize it, fit it to him.
And if he didn’t watch TV, how did he get into acting? “I got lucky.” His family is big into surfing and went over there to get to know his great-uncles and whatnot. He took off some time from where he was going to school in Colorado (studying marine biology) and he went back to Hawaii to get to know his family better and he could get state tuition, as he was Hawaiian. He was working at the family’s surf shop, and Baywatch Hawaii came on the radio, and 1,700 people showed up for it. “Every hottie on the island” came, he recalled. A month later he got the lead role. $100 a day to be an extra and he ended up with a lead role. When that show ended, he went to school and traveled the world “for the next three to four years” and live life. Eventually he became passionate about acting and pursued it, admitting it was hard enough to get over the stigma of Baywatch Hawaii, with the “all muscle no brain” type. “I enjoy life. I’m a student of life. Right now playing this [space] western and get to kill people and aliens and it’s like I’m living like my childhood dream right now.” Then he joked about having an action figure that will shoot when you press a button in the back and utter the trademark Ronon grunt ;)
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A fan said that Torri said at Dragoncon that if she had control of Atlantis for an episode, she would get the entire crew together, have them smoke pot and listen to John Lennon’s “Imagine.” What would Jason do? “That’s sooo Torri,” said Jason with a laugh. “That’s hilarious. She said that?” (yes she did). Jason pondered it a moment. “That’s not Dr. Weir, that’s Torri taking control… Me, I’d lock up those doors. Be poles hanging down, women spinning around. Beer flowing out of the fountains,” he said with a huge grin. “And, uh, me just sitting in this big-ass chair. Joe friggin’ polishing my nails, Torri kissing my thighs, Rachel kissing my hands, things like that, David you know, like wiping my ass. (which got roars from the audience and he’d better hope David doesn’t read this LJ<G>) And all the cast servicing me.”
Some little old lady said something about how every women there would like to give him a big hug. “And I would love to hug every women in here,” he responded.
Alas, time was up and session was over. Jason signed some banners and left.
** Special thanks to “SK” for her help with this section!
LAST BUT NOT LEAST, JOE FLANIGAN coming up next!