Beware of SPOILERS for Season Four of Stargate Atlantis in the article below!
It’s been three seasons since Jason Momoa joined the cast of Stargate Atlantis and in that time we’ve learned a great deal about Ronon Dex’s past, his motivations and his loyalty to his comrades. Fortunately for viewers, the recent renewal of the show means even more of the character will be explored for at least one more season!
GateWorld recently had the opportunity to talk with Momoa about some of the more recent updates, including fighting alongside fellow Satedans in “Reunion,” his recent hair style change, and fun off-set with his fellow cast members. Jason also takes time to explore the possible outcomes for Dex which would bring him the most satisfaction as an artist.
GateWorld: Atlantis was recently picked up for a fifth season. Are you excited about going back to work for a fourth year?
Jason Momoa: Absolutely. I’m excited to do that with my character. You never know. You never know. My buddy Paul McGillion getting dismissed … that was a shocker, so you really never know in this business. I’m surprised they ask me back every year, so it’s always a pleasure. You just never know. It could be like “Nah, we don’t want him back. We’re done with Ronon.” You never know. I’m excited to be back. It’s a privilege and an honor.
GW: What are your feelings for your introductory episode, “Runner,” these few years after shooting it?
JM: I was excited, it was a great episode. It was such a meaty episode. Literally the day before I get there you see wardrobe, and you see this character and really have to develop Ronon. To tell you the truth I don’t think I had him dialed as much — it was an OK job as far as being satisfied with my work, but there was still a lot of stuff that could’ve been put in there. I haven’t seen [the episode] in such a long time.
I know Ronon inside and out now, three years with this guy living inside of me. His perspective on so many different topics. I guess it would be a richer performance. You can’t question your art. It can always be better. It’s TV and you don’t get as much time and maybe what might’ve brought a better performance out of it was the fact that I didn’t know anyone the first day on set, and having to do all the stuff and the awkwardness, and being a loner coming on to a set … maybe that did influence and help the performance.
GW: What about “Sateda?”
JM: I love “Sateda.” It was fun. It’s like being a sponge and you’re thirsty to get some water. You’re really thirty, because Ronon is a character where he didn’t get a lot of stuff to work with, and there’s a certain quality and subtleness … being still in a lot of the scenes is hard. Your own person wants to do something in a different way, and he had the opportunity to really express his emotions. You may try to overdo it. I tried to keep it down, not overplay it. It’s really hard to balance how you want to play the emotions. You don’t want to give too much away.
There was areas where I was really happy with myself, and it only shows three seconds on there, but it was the opportunity to play. This is what I get paid for, and this is what I would do for free. Those moments, even off-camera, I’m going to give it to you good. You get something you can sink your teeth into, it’s like, “Oh, it’s awesome.” You come home from work — mentally exhausted — just happy to do your art and at the end of the day that’s what it’s about.
GW: Do you share any particular traits with Ronon?
JM: Oh, absolutely. Loyalty is probably one of my greatest traits. Loyalty, honor … what else do I share with him? Passionate. Extremely passionate. Maybe a little bit of stubbornness. … He has a little compassion in him. I don’t know if he can forgive but he can definitely apologize. It’s hard for him but when he apologizes he likes to make things right.
GW: How do you feel about his feelings for shooting first and asking questions later? Is it pure brutality or does the character maybe have a point?
JM: I think he’s been done wrong so many times that he’s just learned from it. His gut instinct is always what’s kept him alive. That’s the only thing he’s trusted. He’s been running for so long. That was his survival kit. His stomach. His sixth sense. His reaction’s what’s kept him alive. It’s hard to break that, and I don’t think the team wants to break that. It’s harnessing that, knowing that you have that already so let’s try to, maybe, further it. But that’s Ronon. He has to have that. That’s what gives it the good drama.
GW: “Reunion” recently aired on SCI FI. What were your reactions to Ronon’s eagerness to switch sides and rejoin his people? Was that natural to you or did you object to that personally?
JM: No, I didn’t object to it. I think that would’ve been something I would’ve done, something I think anyone would’ve done.
GW: Do you think he felt betrayed when he found out they were Wraith worshipers?
JM: Oh, absolutely! And I think that’s the set-up for it. There’s got to be a little bit of loss. Ronon is close to them, but he’s not going to stop being friends with the people on Atlantis. I still think he’s kind of an outsider. He doesn’t really trust anyone besides Sheppard and Teyla, who he really confides in. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t talk to people or be with them, but to be with his own people, who he was raised with. There’s not a doubt in his mind.
It was a little bit of a struggle for him, but he wanted the best of both worlds. He wanted to work in cahoots and do special ops with his crew and be his own leader — which he was. For him to do that was, I think, he had to do that in order for him to fall. To be betrayed, and to have that big fall. He gave his heart wholeheartedly and to leave something that was still very good, where his home is, and also when he left knowing “This is it. This is my home, where I want to be. Now I’m home.” That past is over with. So in order for that to work he had to go gung-ho to be with his crew.
GW: Well he’s a military man and he’s a warrior. It makes sense that he’d be comfortable with other warriors like Teyla and with Sheppard.
GW: What are some favorite stories from Season Four?
JM: There’s a pretty funny story … David Hewlett’s not going to like this, but … We were working at the Norco stage which is where all the Wraith stuff is. It’s horrible. I always have to be there. It’s horrible. You lose a little bit of your life in there because there are these particles floating around in the air that are just — something’s wrong. You come away coughing and hacking and stuff.
I was a smoker — I’m not anymore — but it was brutal. You’re not getting proper oxygen, so everyone on set is just lethargic. It was just a hard day and we’d been there probably 13, 14 hours. We’re leaving, and I’m riding with Joe [Flanigan]. He’s the driver. We see David Hewlett in his little red Echo, driving away. He’s just bopping away to the music, and he’s feeling down too.
So I’m in the back seat of this huge Diesel truck and I’m like, “Pull up next to him! Pull up next to him!” I whipped my pants all the way down my knees and I hang my ass out the window. David’s right there and he looks over and I’m looking back at him. His face was terrified. And we laughed so hard, because he just locked eyes with the brown star. We laughed so hard. It helped so much. Our hearts were just filled with laughter. He was just terrified.
Just good ‘ole mooning our friends. Mooning our co-stars.
GW: After 14-hour days, you’ve got to release somehow!
JM: Absolutely, man. We like picking on Hewlett. I like getting him rattled. It’s always fun.
GW: Where do you hope this character will go before the series end? What will be a satisfying conclusion for this role for you?
JM: I really want my character to go to the dark side. We’ve been talking about it. I’ve had my dreads for, like, seven years. I just cut ’em off. I’ve got to put them back on. I’m sure people will see them. It’s on the Internet. But I couldn’t take it anymore personally. It was just too heavy. Fight scenes are intense. My hair’s getting whipped around, and it weighs six and a half pounds. It’s just too much.
I saved the dreads. The lady who works on them has to braid ’em up and actually has to sew them on, which is going to be a two-day process. It’s going to be painful. It’s going to be horrible. I’ve got to do that. Ronon needs the dreads. I want him to have them. It’s just to a point where it hurts my neck. It physically hurts having them.
I don’t know what we’re going to do. What I’ve always wanted to happen is some epic story, and I hope they write something epic, that I’m captured and tortured by the Wraith, by Michael or someone, and they’re trying to find some coordinates to Earth, and basically I’m waiting for Sheppard and those guys to come get me, and he’s not allowed to come get me. Some IOA thing says they can’t — I’m an alien. [Sheppard] wants to and he’s restricted from it.
GW: You don’t think the character could go without the dreadlocks? You really want him to have them?
JM: It’s just such a part of my thing, but eesh. I think it keeps him separate from the Earthling thing, and everyone looks the same. It’ll be interesting to see what happens. I just want the character to have a full change, him to feel betrayed by Atlantis, not to come and save him, and him to be confused and mind-warped to think he was done wrong again by someone he loves. Have him go AWOL. Have him become a bad guy and working for Wraith or Michael or someone like that or some other bad people.
GW: I imagine, as an actor, it would be fulfilling to have your character be a tragedy in the end.
JM: Yeah, absolutely. I’d rather have him turn to the dark side and have him realize he was wrong and have to find justice and redemption in figuring out where he went wrong. It’s just a lot funner that way.
GW: Was [Season Four] an exciting year for you?
JM: On the whole, as working in general, yeah. It was probably the greatest year of my life.
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