Jason Momoa was the face of Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones but several other surprising actors were considered for the role. One of the actors went on to play another character on the HBO epic fantasy series based on the series by author George R.R. Martin. Here’s which notable names auditioned for the brutal warlord and why Momoa acquired the gig.
Drogo was a Khal of the Dothraki, giving him the nickname, “The Great Khal.” He led his tribe of horse-riders, known for their savage ways, beyond the Free Cities. The Dothraki were skilled warriors and weren’t too kind to outsiders. Drogo was a prominent character in Game of Thrones season 1 when Viserys Targaryen and Illyrio Mopatis arrange a marriage between the Khal and Viserys’ sister, Daenerys. After the two are married, Drogo killed Viserys and vowed to take the Iron Throne but died after an infected wound. Daenerys sacrificed their unborn son to perform a ritual in bringing back Drogo. It worked but Drogo was left in a catatonic state and his wife had no choice but to put him out of his misery.
Khal Drogo and his Khaleesi, Daenerys, looked to be the power couple of Game of Thrones but his death by the end of season 1 proved otherwise. The demise of Khal Drogo, however, did jumpstart the events that lead to the introduction of Daenerys’ three dragons. Momoa went on to reprise his role one more time in the season 2 finale when Daenerys had a vision of Drogo and her unborn son in the House of the Undying. It’s difficult to envision anyone else in the role, but Conan Stevens was considered for the part during the casting process. Stevens was eventually cast as Gregor Clegane, aka “The Mountain” for the show’s first season. Gregor was then recast two separate times during the show’s run. In addition, David Harewood (Homeland, Supergirl), revealed that he read for Khal Drogo, but felt that Momoa was the perfect fit in the end.
Ahead of Game of Thrones‘ debut on HBO in 2011, creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss ran into some trouble finding the right person for the role of Khal Drogo. They auditioned many actors but they couldn’t find anyone who embodied the fierce warlord. The duo found themselves on a fan-casting site which featured many people suggesting Momoa for the role of Drogo. Up to that point, the actor had only worked on Baywatch: Hawaii and the soap opera series, North Shore, along with small projects which Benioff and Weiss weren’t familiar with. Momoa’s appearance won over the showrunners, leading him to an audition.
Drogo didn’t have many lines so the auditioning process was a bit difficult. To set himself apart during the audition, Momoa asked to do the haka, a ceremonial dance used to challenge an opponent or welcome a visitor. The casting directors enjoyed it so much that they asked the actor to do it again to put on tape. It clearly helped because Momoa won the part. Game of Thrones served as Momoa’s breakout role which eventually led to his casting as Aquaman in the DCEU.
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