Jason Momoa discusses directorial debut 'Road to Paloma'

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Jason Momoa is best known for his film work on "Game of Thrones," "Stargate: Atlantis" and "The Red Road," but the actor is excited to try his hand at directing. His directorial debut, "Road to Paloma," gets a limited theatrical run on July 11 and hits Blu-Ray, DVD and On Demand on July 15, and Momoa is already gearing up for his next movie, a Hawaiian historical epic called "Ko'olau."

Zap2it spoke with Momoa about "Road to Paloma" and the real-life issues that the film tackles. He also opens up about his plans for "Ko'olau" and how he hopes to use his Hollywood clout to make the movies he wants to make.

Zap2it: This movie isn't one that's set up to have a happy ending, so did you struggle with focusing the story on his journey instead of where he ends up?
Jason Momoa: I feel like the whole movie is the journey. If you think about it, I've shown you that he's this wild, free spirit. You've seen what his past has been like. He obviously had to make a brutal choice. Many people would have made the choice. Personally I would have made the choice if someone hurt my mother. And you're either going to be on the run, you're going to be in prison or you're not going to make it. He's already been hiding for six months and he doesn't like the way his life is. He had time to sit with himself for six months and talk to no one, and he's coming out.

Everyone in your life or my life that have inspired us who were artists, painters, movies, your parents, uncles, aunties, friends; they live within us, and I wanted to show this man leaving his mark in the world and saying goodbye to his life. It really was this journey of not just voluntarily picking a place, but you see the road play a character and drop him off at all these [places]. Go left, go right, fork in the road; you meet these characters, and you get to see him dole out his soul on the way to his demise. Anyone who watches this film, you look back and you say he's not going to win, and there's only one way out. I feel like he accomplished that. It's sad, but the truth of it is the s*** that's happening on the reservations is f***ed up and sad, and hopefully it brings attention to that. It's appalling.

Have you specifically met with families on reservations who suffered from crimes that weren't justly responded to by the government?
No, all of ours was done through research. We took a choice not to do that. We read an enormous amount of articles, and my writing partner Rob [Homer Mollohan], he went to a democratic convention and met some amazing men who were pretty high up, and that's where he got the information. It was one of those things where even shooting that rape scene was extremely challenging for us. We wanted to obviously not just be overtly gratuitous, but show some class. It was just very hard to do those things. There was one day we couldn't even do the scene because it was just too much. It just makes me sick even thinking about those things.

But I didn't talk to a family. It would have been very, very, very, very hard to separate that person's story. We wanted to tell ours. There's many, many stories. We put it on our website, you can see what's going on with the laws and some of the articles we did read, so if people like the movie and want to read further they can go to RoadtoPaloma.com.

Are you expecting this to spark a conversation? Is that a goal you have tied to this movie being released?
Just for people to know what's going on. There's so many people -- Jesus, I didn't know what was going on. It's just baffling to me, so just trying to bring it up so people know what is going on. While we were shooting, three or four articles came out in the Washington Post, New York Times. It was insane, some of the stories. I don't even like repeating it, but this line from one of the things that we heard, oh my god, it's f***ing heart wrenching. This is stuff that makes me f***ing sick.

To me it feels the greatest tragedy for Wolf was one we didn't see -- when he chose to kill the man who raped his mother -- and the fact that that action ends his life even though he doesn't die at that time.
We shot the murder. It's the opening, and it's me making the stone knife in front of my father's fire. I ride out of the place and I'm clean-shaven, so I look a lot younger. I ride out of the reservation, I go to this guy's house, and he hears the sound of the bike. He comes out, and the bike's just sitting there and there's just shoes in front of it. He's outside, he has a gun, and it's just shadow games; I'm barefoot. He's freaking out, he's looking around and you just hear the footsteps behind him. He freezes. When he turns around, that's that shot you see in the trailer where I'm painted up. Right when I go to scalp him and break every bone in his body, I wake up. I'm haunted by that, and it's six months later and I'm under that tree, and it's just something that constantly haunts him.

We cut it out just because it set the tone wrong. People really loved the scene and they wanted to see stuff, but I wanted them to see the six months of him being by himself, and so when we amped it up in the beginning and then just dropped [the intensity], people just found it to be boring and they couldn't sit with him just being by himself. And also it was a mystery and they wanted to know what was going on. We're going to release that [later]. The whole point of the movie was, "At the end of our road, at the end of our days, if our choices define us, what will hang in the air when you're gone?" This one action that I did, did it define me? Am I murderer just because of that? And you get to see his life and what hangs in the air when you're gone. You get to see all these moments and people he shared it with and love and how big he loved. We want audiences to be like, "What would you do?"

How did the journey of making this movie affect you, and how is it changing the way people look at you going forward?
I don't think anyone's really seen it -- and I hope people do -- so I don't think it's changed anything. It's really great because people see it and go, "Oh s***, I didn't expect that out of a guy who didn't speak English on 'Game of Thrones.'" Most of them don't know that side of me. As far as [me], we've written our next script and we're going to move forward with that. That's done, and hopefully in the next five years that one will be out. I love telling stories and I love playing stories. It's just all the lessons you learn too. I don't think you ever stop learning.

You teased before that your next movie will be your "Braveheart" and be set in Hawaii. What more can you tell me about it?
It's called "Ko'olau." If you look up Ko'olau the leper, it's a true story that happened in 1890, and it's about a father whose family is split up because of leprosy, and he ends up shooting the sheriff because they're trying to separate him from his and his family. He has to run up into the mountains and try to defend his family against the provisional government and the sheriff that's trying to take over. It's kind of a weird time in Hawaii. The sheriffs were trying to make a name for themselves before the government came in overthrowing the king and queen. It's something that hasn't really been told, and I want to show audiences that. ... The movie's not playing the victim. It's a beautiful piece. It's definitely like my "Last of the Mohicans"-meets-"Proposition."

Do you have any updates on the production of that?
You know what, I don't. It's very hard because it's a drama period piece. It's got the action in there too, but it's a hard film. I've got a couple projects lined up where the bigger my name gets, it will help. I don't want to go groveling to get money like I did with "Paloma." We've got a really great story, we've got some names that I don't want to mention now but are great names attached, hopefully get a couple more and see where that leads. This is my baby and I don't want to go take any old offer. We've taken it out to a lot of great places, and no success yet but still going. This is my major movie that I would want to do, so we're going to take our time.
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