Jason Momoa is one of Hollywood’s most sought-after stars, but according to the actor, it wasn’t too long ago that he was struggling to make ends meet.
In an interview with Instyle, Momoa revealed that his departure from Game of Thrones in 2011–which happened after his character, Khal Drogo, was killed off–left him “completely in debt.” He says he struggled to pay the bills at the house he shares with his wife, Lisa Bonet, and their two children.
“I mean, we were starving after Game of Thrones,” he revealed in the interview. “I couldn’t get work. It’s very challenging when you have babies and you’re completely in debt.”
Momoa has been acting for decades, having starred in series including Baywatch: Hawaii, North Shore, and Stargate Atlantis–but his role in Game of Thrones is what really put him on the map.
Even though most fans would assume a huge spotlight like Game of Thrones could hurt someone’s career, Momoa previously told EW’s James Hibberd that playing the Dothraki warlord actually made people assume he couldn’t read dialogue or could only play strong, silent warrior roles.
“For a while afterward, a lot of people bagged on me. It hurt me a lot. People thought I didn’t speak English,” Momoa recalled at the time. “They didn’t know I was playing a role. I’m nothing like Drogo. I’m like Drogo when I’m being lovey and close to the woman I love and being nice, but his other half is not me. But then everyone fell in love with Drogo when they rewatched the show.”
In 2017, Momoa’s luck turned around completely when he was cast in Justice League as Arthur Curry/Aquaman. Later, he was the star of his own superhero blockbuster in Aquaman, which grossed more than $1.1 billion worldwide.