Best known for playing rugged, physically intimidating characters, Jason Momoa said starring in “Dune” gave him a chance to explore his loving, fatherly side.
It wasn’t just in the way his character, Duncan Idaho, cared for and mentored Paul (Timothée Chalamet), son of ocean planet ruler Duke Leto (Oscar Isaac) — though he acknowledged that was rewarding. But a moment of on-screen combat gave the “Game of Thrones” actor the chance to acknowledge his real-life son.
Momoa, who is of partial Native Hawaiian ancestry, trained in Kali, a weapons-based martial arts technique native to the Philippines, to prepare for some of the film’s fight scenes. The ending battle in particular, where Momoa’s character takes on the evil House Harkonnen, took complex training and features Kali moves. The actor said it wasn't a practice he was familiar with until "Dune," but his 12-year-old son practices it. Getting familiar with Kali made the actor feel more connected to him, he said.
"There’s definitely these intimate moments where I’m signaling to my son," Momoa told IndieWire last week. "That’s a Kali move, where you put your hand on your heart and put it on your head. That’s to Timothée in the movie, but that’s to my son in real life." Momoa is familiar with doing fight scenes, and those in “Dune” took a lot of practice, he said. He compared the action sequences to his work in films like “Aquaman.” Kali, specifically, involves wielding blades or sticks, something his character Duncan does often in the film as a warrior.
"Dune" director Denis Villeneuve planned the scenes with fight coordinator Roger Yuan, an expert in Kali. He wanted the scenes to look like a dance, Villeneuve told The New York Times, so each motion was crafted to a T.
But what endeared Momoa the most to his role was how Duncan was able to shape Paul’s life as he grew up. He used his own childhood role models as a point of reference, he said.
“Those men that come in your life, and they go on these journeys, whether they’re mountaineers or skateboarders, they go on these adventures, and they come back and tell them, and you just idolize them,” Momoa told IndieWire. “That’s what I really felt like Duncan was to Timothée’s character. That’s what I wanted to embody when playing this role.”