Whether you enjoyed the ending or not — most of us decidedly did not — you can’t deny the fact that Game of Thrones was one of the most influential television shows in the world for the eight years that it was on air. So if the HBO original series was such a huge success, how did one of its biggest stars walk away from the show completely broke?
Jason Momoa famously played Khal Drogo in the fantasy epic, starring as the powerful chief of the Dothraki warrior people. Khal Drogo was a key figure in the storyline because of his relationship with Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke); Dany’s status as Khaleesi and the Mother of Dragons was a direct consequence of her arranged marriage into the khalasar. It’s how she got her dragons in the first place, which led to her dogged obsession with claiming the Seven Kingdoms for herself. We all know how that ended, but still.
Given his important role in the plot, Momoa technically should have been living large even after being killed off the show, but in conversation with InStyle, he revealed that his first few years post-GOT were marked by struggle. Even though he had been a big character on the series, the actor somehow still had to pinch pennies to get by.
“We were starving after Game of Thrones,” he shared. “I couldn’t get work. It’s very challenging when you have babies and you’re completely in debt.”
GOT had eight long seasons, and Momoa was written out of the script in the first installment of the show, so he unfortunately missed the inevitable pay raise that his co-stars got as the series grew in popularity over the years. The HBO original generated more than $2 billion worth of profit for the network, and stars like Clare and Kit Harrington were raking in $500,000 per episode towards the last few seasons.
Fortunately, Momoa wasn’t in the red for long. In 2014, he was cast as Aquaman in the DC Extended Universe, making his first appearance in the 2016 film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice alongside Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill. Momoa also appeared in the superhero ensemble movie Justice League (2017) before starring in his character's origin story a year later. Aquaman reviews were split — the action film sits at 65% on Rotten Tomatoes — but the movie definitely made bank. It earned more than $1 billion worldwide, making it the highest-grossing DCEU film ever. Momoa's salary for the project was set at a nice $14 million, which will likely increase ahead of the 2022 Aquaman sequel and any future Justice League film.
All's well that ends well, Jason.