Jason Momoa Went To See His Grandmother In Iowa, And The Pictures Of His Trip Are Just Too Cute

Image: YouTube/Jason Momoa

Jason Momoa’s acting career has gone from strength to strength recently. In 2018 he starred as the eponymous lead character in Aquaman, which became the fifth highest-grossing movie of that year. But no matter how big he gets, he always remembers his roots. In fact, he recently visited his grandmother in Iowa, taking some pictures with her and posting them online. And they’re absolutely adorable.

Image: YouTube/Jason Momoa

Momoa’s trip to Iowa was part of a vlogging project he’s been doing recently. His business, Pride of Gypsies, teamed with production company On the Roam to create a new YouTube channel following Momoa around the world. It launched at the same time Momoa was promoting Aquaman, so it was a good month for his fans.

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But it took Momoa a long time to get those fans. When he first started out in the entertainment business, he was – perhaps unsurprisingly – a model. He even won the award for Hawaii’s Model of the Year in 1999. He was only 19 at that point in his career and he had a lot to prove. After all, he was much more than just a pretty face.

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Momoa could’ve chosen many different career paths. Indeed, he might have continued the modeling work or he could even have been a marine biologist – he actually studied the subject at college. All great preparation for Aquaman, although he couldn’t possibly have known that back then!

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While working part-time in a surf shop – yep, he could have been a surfer too – Momoa was cast in the series Baywatch Hawaii. He fit in perfectly, as he’d also worked as a lifeguard in his teens. In fact, when he took the position he was the youngest lifeguard to ever work on the Gulf Coast.

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Momoa’s Baywatch Hawaii character, Jason Ioane, was not dissimilar to him – both had the same first name, even. Jason Iaone was the youngest lifeguard in the group, just as Momoa had been. And the character was proud of his Hawaiian heritage, as was the actor. In fact, many of Momoa’s famous tattoos represent things important to native Hawaiians.

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Momoa worked on Baywatch Hawaii from 1999 up to 2001. Once it was over, he had caught the acting bug and started racking up appearances in other things. Some, like Stargate Atlantis, were good and boosted his profile. Others, though, were bad. His 2004 movie Johnson Family Vacation, for instance, was completely destroyed by critics.

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While still working on Stargate: Atlantis, Momoa gained his now-famous facial scar. The circumstances were exactly as badass as you’d expect – he got it in a bar fight. A man threw a glass in his face, leading Momoa to get 140 stitches in hospital. His attacker was sentenced to five years in prison for the incident.

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Image: Helen Sloan/HBO via IMDb

Momoa actually enjoyed having the scar, thinking it might help him get better roles in the acting industry. Indeed, not long after, his big break came along. Momoa auditioned for the role of warlord Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones – and he got the job by unusual means.

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“On Game of Thrones, [Drogo] doesn’t say much. So how do you convey him? There’s nothing in the script,” Momoa told Time in 2017. And so he performed the Haka, a traditional Maori war dance, to intimidate the producers – like Drogo would intimidate enemies. “The first time I did it, they were very scared. But then they wanted me to come back in so they could put it on tape,” he recalled.

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Game of Thrones, of course, turned out to be a colossal success. Indeed, the part of Khal Drogo turned out to be Momoa’s career-making role. And such was his commitment to his performance that he even added elements which had not previously been imagined in the script.

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One of the more significant scenes involving Drogo comes as the warlord tears out the tongue of an enemy. This action actually came from Momoa’s own suggestion, as he’d noticed that his character rarely got to demonstrate how physically strong he was. But in spite of memorable scenes such as this, Momoa’s top-notch performance came to an end with Drogo’s death at the end of season one. He returned only for a cameo in season two.

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Following his breakthrough role on Game of Thrones, Momoa revealed to Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show that he had trouble finding work. He was too tied up with Khal Drogo and people actually told him they didn’t expect him to speak English. “It was heartbreaking,” Momoa joked to Fallon. “I was like, ‘That’s why I’m not getting any jobs.’”

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However, a big job was just around the corner. Momoa received a personal invitation from director Zack Snyder to read for the part of famous underseas superhero Aquaman. The Aquaman of DC Comics wasn’t much like either Khal Drogo or Momoa, though. He was white, blonde and not Hawaiian.

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Yet as soon as Momoa was cast, many fans applauded the decision to go a different direction with the character. For a long time, Aquaman had been thought of by some as a slightly silly throwback to a different age of comics, but the casting of Momoa lent him a sudden gravitas. And, of course, his impressive physique didn’t hurt matters at all.

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To many people, the idea of a Hawaiian Aquaman was a great one. Traditionally Hawaiians have a connection to water, just like the character. In fact, one of Momoa’s tattoos represents a shark’s mouth – the shark being the crest of his Hawaiian family. It’s meant to protect him whenever he goes into the ocean. Perfect for Aquaman.

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Momoa cameoed in Batman vs Superman, before joining an ensemble cast of superheroes in the 2017 blockbuster Justice League. Unfortunately, neither film did very well critically or commercially – despite the vast sums that went into their making. Then, in December 2018 came Momoa’s starring role in his solo film Aquaman.

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Aquaman did incredibly well. Though critical reception was a little mixed, it scored big at the box office. Around the world, it took in more than $1 billion, making it the fifth biggest moneymaking film of 2018 – as well as the highest-earning DC Comics movie ever. It even beat out The Dark Knight Rises, money-wise.

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Although some criticized the movie’s plot, Momoa’s performance was praised by several reviewers. “The real question is: Is [Momoa] a leading man?” posed Men’s Health magazine. “Can he translate his best successes, mostly minor, into the kind of stardom that’s necessary to hold up tentpoles? In short: Yes.”

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Some reviewers took note of the fact that, although Aquaman was undoubtedly masculine, he also possessed more feminine qualities. In fact, Momoa was asked about this in a December 2018 interview with Glamour magazine. And he responded by claiming that he felt portraying the character that way was “important.”

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“I was raised by women; by my grandmother and my mum,” Momoa told Glamour. “I think it’s absolutely important to know yourself, to have a few sensitive moments, to open up instead of being this Martian.” Indeed, Momoa has often spoken about the vital role the women in his life play for him.

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Momoa was an only child raised mostly by his mother, with his father reportedly having been out of the picture. Indeed, perhaps as a result of this, the actor particularly appreciated the role single parents played in Aquaman. “It’s cool that [Aquaman] comes from single parents, mixed race,” he told the media at the Asian premiere of the movie. “It’s cool that I get to become the face of that.”

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Momoa is now a father of two children himself and he regularly sings the praises of his wife and co-parent, Lisa Bonet. “My wife is amazing. Her ultimate art form is being a phenomenal mother,” he told People in 2018. “Not a lot of people know how absolutely hysterical she is. She makes me laugh and is just really quirky. We are a perfect fit.”

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There are several other important women in Momoa’s life too. These include his 11-year-old daughter Lola and his stepdaughter Zoë Kravitz. Big Little Lies star Zoë is the actress daughter of Lisa Bonet and her first husband, musician Lenny Kravitz. And yes, Momoa is friends with Lenny as well.

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In fact, Momoa and his stepdaughter even share tattoos. Along their right forearms they both have the words “etre toujours ivre” – which translates from French to “be always drunk.” Plus, Zoë’s band Lolawolf is named after her half-siblings – Momoa’s young children – Lola Iolani and Nakoa-Wolf.

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Momoa is also very close with his grandmother, Mabel. He’s talked about her on social media several times, speaking about the impact she’s had on his life. His customized motorcycle, which he has had since he was a teen and which appeared in his 2014 movie Road to Paloma, is even named “Mabel” after her.

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And while filming Aquaman in June 2017 Momoa decided to FaceTime his grandmother while in costume. He also decided to take screenshots of the conversation and post them to Instagram. “Got to FaceTime my grandma for the first time as Aquaman,” he wrote proudly on the post.

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Image: YouTube/Jason Momoa

“It was priceless. Love u grams,” he went on. Then, he added several tags to the photo – “#raisediniowa #grandmasboy #missyougrams #meandmabel.” Momoa was indeed raised in Iowa, in Norwalk to be exact. It seems he has a deep love of his homeland and in 2018 he filmed a video of a visit.

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Image: YouTube/Jason Momoa

The video – directed and edited by Etienne Aurelius and released January 2019 – showed Momoa meeting his family and leading viewers through Iowa. He dropped in on some of the restaurants there, which included Waveland Café and Kung Fu Tap. But he also had another goal in mind beyond just making a video.

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Image: YouTube/Jason Momoa

Momoa wanted to visit his grandmother. He hadn’t seen her, he explained in the video, in “a long time.” So he spent some time hanging out with her, just relaxing in her company – and having a go in her wheelchair, even. “She’s still got it. She’s still got her spirit,” he says in the footage. “It was awesome seeing her.”

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Image: YouTube/Jason Momoa

The video appeared to strike a chord with a lot of Momoa fans. “One billion dollars at the box-office is cool. But, spending time with grandma is priceless,” wrote one in the YouTube comments. “The part with your grandma brought a tear to my eye. Reminded me of when I’d take my Grandma out in her wheelchair, I’d pretend we were doing burn-outs in the car park and we’d do wheelies. She loved it,” wrote another.

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Momoa also posted two pictures of himself and Mabel to an Instagram gallery. One of the photos showed the pair posing for the camera, looking incredibly happy to be in each other’s company. The other showed both of them from the back, looking out of the window at the fields of Iowa.

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Image: YouTube/Jason Momoa

“Needed to come home to Iowa and give my grams some aloha,” Momoa noted down on the social media platform. “Love you forever grandma.” Then, he used several hashtags again to get across the depths of his respect for her – “#Mabel, #thematriarch, #raisedbywomen, #loveuma, #hawaiianiowan.”

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Momoa also put in a joke about both the places he comes from. “Hawaii backwards is Iiawah. Iowa,” he wrote. And he also posted a picture of all his Iowan family gathered together outside the Waveland Café. His accompanying caption read, “My beautiful Iowa ohana. Love you so much, so proud of my cousins.”

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Momoa credits his Iowan roots – as well as his Hawaiian ones – with helping him to play Aquaman. “I always wanted to do marine biology, and even though Iowa is very landlocked, the… school system offered me that,” he told the Des Moines Register in December 2018. “Here we are and my name is associated with water, and that’s because of Iowa.”

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Image: YouTube/Jason Momoa

Momoa’s pictures with his grandmother gained over 1.5 million likes on Instagram. And as with the YouTube video, fans added their own comments. “Wow, thank you for sharing such a beautiful moment of your life. It made me smile and think of my late mother and think of many happy memories,” wrote one person.

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Image: YouTube/Jason Momoa

The clip provided a pretty in-depth look into Momoa’s life. He even took viewers to see his old garage, where he’d taught himself to do things that would later come in handy for his superhero career. Indeed, this was where he learned to climb and play hockey. “All these holes are from me shooting at the net,” he informs watchers.

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Image: YouTube/Jason Momoa

He also found an old tree on his property, one that had some significance to him. “I used to live in this tree,” he explains in the clip. “This big, big branch, my mom cut it off in places [for me to] climb and I made climbing routes all over this tree. It was one of my favorite things to just chill out in this tree.”

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But even though he likes to look back at the past, Momoa must now surely be looking forward to the future. As the star of a billion-dollar movie, he’s much in demand now. In 2018 he was cast in a new show for Apple, See, which is set in a world where humans have lost the ability to see.

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Moreover, Aquaman 2 is very much on the cards, thanks to the tremendous success of the first film. Plus, if there’s ever a Justice League 2 Momoa has said he’d be up for that as well. Currently, he could do almost anything he wanted in Hollywood. But in any case, he’ll certainly find the time to visit his grandmother.

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