Jason Momoa burst onto the celebrity-gossip scene after appearing as Khal Drogo on what would become one of the most talked-about shows of all time, Game of Thrones. But that role came after years of bit parts as Momoa developed into the bearded, long-haired ruffian that audiences came to know and love.
Momoa clearly celebrates his Hawaiian heritage, though he was also raised for large periods of time in Iowa. Still, it was in Hawaii while working at a surf shop that he was discovered and began his modeling career, then answered a casting call to appear on Baywatch Hawaii.
The rest of his life has become fairly public, especially after landing a role in the DC Cinematic Universe playing Aquaman. But Momoa has gone through major changes throughout his life and career, so let's go back in time and check out 20 pics that show his transformation over the years.
In this early pic of Jason Momoa, there's very little to identify him as the Hollywood hunk he would become many years later. At yet, at second glance, his eyebrows and expression have carried through from this youngster all the way to the man that Game of Thrones and Aquaman fans love today.
19 Hawaiian Kid
This young man looks straight out of Hawaii, complete with beaded necklace and blonde tips. This might be one of those clean-cut phases that every teenager goes through, though Momoa would clearly turn into more of a grunge and steampunk-informed kind of guy later in life. For anyone hoping to get as buff as Khal Drogo one day, just look how skinny Momoa started out!
18 Modeling Shots
Before Momoa became famous as an actor, he was spotted by fashion designers Eric Chandler and Takeo Kobayashi. Despite being much slimmer than the swords-and-sandals beefcake he'd evolve into later in life, Momoa clearly had his physique well on its way by 1998, when he was only 19 years old.
17 Grown Up
Jason Momoa's career began with modeling, though he quickly transitioned to acting in the TV spinoff Baywatch Hawaii. That stint ran from 1999 to 2001 and established Momoa as a brooding babe magnet with a buff body. Baywatch Hawaii would go on to be the last seasons of Baywatch ever filmed, and was largely produced because of incentives provided to film in Hawaii.
16 More Modeling
At some point in every celebrity's career, a bad photographer or videographer catches them in a very embarrassing situation. Case in point would be this model shot of Jason Momoa, which looks like it could be photoshopped onto the cover of a romance novel or maybe used as an advertisement for natural male enhancement.
15 On The Way
At this point in his life, Jason Momoa has fully embraced his typecast kind of grungy lifestyle. Though his appearance would change over the years, this dreadlock-wearing Momoa is clearly the inspiration for his later roles. Momoa wore dreads during the filming of Stargate Atlantis, so there's a good chance this photo comes from around 2005-2009.
14 Cornrows, Though?
In today's highly reactionary culture, Momoa might get criticized for wearing cornrows. However, back in the early-to-mid-2000s, when this photo looks like it was taken, he would have been able to walk around without worrying that people on their cellphones would snap pics or, because he was pre-famous at this point, the paparazzi being interested, as well.
13 Growing Up
For a guy like Jason Momoa, who spent a few years with a bit of a youngish face that didn't quite match his stature and muscling, growing a goatee was probably a good idea. Also on display in this pic is the kind of style that he'd continue to inhabit for years. Draping scarves and jewelry over repurposed fancy clothes has become his modus operandi.
12 Fun Times
Here, Momoa has begun to put on some of the weight that he'd later need for roles like Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones, Conan in Conan the Barbarian, and in Aquaman. But he's cleaned up his face a bit, revealing the fun-loving guy underneath all the dreads and facial hair.
11 Wifed Up
Here, Momoa stands with (or dips his head down towards) his wife, Lisa Bonet. Bonet and Momoa were married in 2007, though their relationship was not publicly announced until 2017. Bonet is famous for being on The Cosby Show and for an appearance in Angel Heart opposite Mickey Rourke, as well as for being Zoe Kravitz's mother (Lenny Kravitz and Bonet eloped in 1987).
10 Family Man
In this picture, Jason Momoa has evolved into the full-fledged Khal Drogo and Aquaman style that he's known for. Seeing the big, shaggy man with his family— especially his son, who has clearly embraced the long-hair look— at a red carpet photo-op serves as a reminder that people can change for the better.
9 The Look
In this pic, Momoa has gone a bit clean-shaven— but not entirely. He's got that look on his face that reveals he knows he's a star. And he is, after emerging post-Game of Thrones into a solid string of roles that have, in many ways, been continuations of Khal Drogo. But no one does it better!
8 Pretty In Pink
Momoa towers over his wife, Lisa Bonet, in a pink tuxedo ensemble, though he obviously can't button the top few buttons around his thick neck. Plus, closing up the shirt would prevent his usual collection of necklaces and other pieces of flair from showing. He's like a wild beast pretending to be tamed.
7 The Man
This picture of Jason Momoa was taken at San Diego Comic-Con 2018, where he celebrated in advance of the December release of his DC Cinematic Universe film, Aquaman. Momoa became the clear choice to play Aquaman once the character evolved into a shaggy islander— but did Adrian Grenier, who played Vince on Entourage, get a chance to audition?
6 Healthy Life
Jason Momoa lives a life that few can dream of, having split time between Iowa in his youth and Hawaii, and over that time, he fell in love with many of his current passions. He's a true outdoorsy guy, even while living in Los Angeles, and even has a vegetable garden on his property, as discussed by Men's Journal.
5 Dad Bod
Momoa might be known for his muscle-man roles, but everyone has to take some time off work at some point, as evidenced here. The dude was criticized online for letting his physique flounder to the point where he had developed a bit of a "dad bod" that stood in contrast to his on-screen appearance.
4 Cat Lover
If there's any way to guarantee that everyone online will love you, it's by posing with cute pets. Of course, everyone pretty much already loves Jason Momoa after his role on Game of Thrones, but hey, why not put that love on lockdown? Here, his locks flowing and his white suit glistening, he holds a totally freaked-out black cat.
3 Khal In The City
One of the major problems that actors struggle with as they get famous centers around public perception. The problem is doubled when they get completely typecast, since the public only sees them on-screen as the same kind of person over and over again. Momoa could probably do himself a favor by going out in public looking more clean-cut, since it might improve his chances of landing other roles, but he still looks fun as a modern Khal in the city.
2 Same, Same
Momoa's most recent work, currently being advertised ad nauseam for streaming on Apple TV+, is called See. The show follows two children who have been born with the ability to see, which the rest of humanity has lost. Momoa's character is another shaggy, tribalistic leader— putting him right back into the thread of his typecasting.
1 Elvis, Baby
On television, Jason Momoa's characters have recently been violent, rampaging savages with a hint of tenderness and philosophy to back up their physical acts. But in real life, the man seems more like a fun-loving comedian than anything else. This last Halloween, he appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show dressed up as Elvis.
Sources: Men's Journal, IMDb, and Wikipedia.