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Odd Enough Jason Momoa battled 'painful as hell' Canadian winter to jump off a cliff shirtless in 'braven'

It’s our duty to report that in director Lin Oeding’s Braven—set and filmed in the frigid, snow-covered mountain wilderness of Newfoundland—Jason Momoa still manages to appear shirtless in at least one scene.

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(Rodale Inc.)

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The actor told Men's Health about training for the film's violent fight scenes and heart-racing stunts

It’s our duty to report that in director Lin Oeding’s Braven—set and filmed in the frigid, snow-covered mountain wilderness of Newfoundland—Jason Momoa still manages to appear shirtless in at least one scene.

But those are the sacrifices you make when you’re as famously fit as the 38-year-old actor, best known for playing Aquaman in Justice League (and, soon, his own stand-alone film).

Here, though, Momoa is no King of Atlantis; he’s Joe Braven, a hardworking logger and family man whose quiet cabin retreat with his ailing father (Stephen Lang) is interrupted by heavily armed drug-runners looking for their hidden dope. What follows is a Home Alone-meets-First Blood action flick. Many hatchets are thrown. A few people get shot with a bow and arrow. It’s a great time.

Before the film’s premiere, Men's Health chatted with Momoa about how common man strength compares to superhero fitness, and how exactly he trained to jump off a cliff. Plus, the actor weighed in on how guys can do better in light of the #MeToo movement. Here's our conversation, edited for clarity.

Men’s Health: Braven is a really intense, action-heavy movie, but it’s also a story about a son dealing with his father's dementia. What part of that aspect grabbed you the most?

Jason Momoa: I found it really interesting, the part [about] dementia—using the father as a vehicle of someone I really looked up to, who taught me everything I know. It’s these everyday problems: Your father’s mind kind of slips; you don’t want to put him in a home; you’re troubled for money. Just having conversations about how we need help.

Then we kick in the action film, to get people to watch it and have some fun. You get to see the special ops guy versus the mountain man, the construction worker. I loved the Rambo, Die Hard, everyday guy aspect of it. I love that shit.

As much as it’s about Joe’s relationship with his father, it’s also about him having to protect his own daughter. As a father, did you draw on a lot personally for that?

Absolutely. My first child was a baby girl. I wanted to have a little girl in this movie, and I think the relationship between father and daughter is unbelievable. I definitely drew on a lot of things from my family life to put in there.

The fights are all very brutal, up-close, hand-to-hand type of sequences. What’s the training like for that?

Our stunt coordinators and our director come from the action background. And myself. I’ve been training with [stunt coordinators] 87Eleven for a very long time now. With all the guys there, you learn all these different dances. Generally, most of my buddies are stunt guys. So it comes really easy because we love each other, we don’t want to hurt each other, we want to make really awesome action at the end of the day. We also want to make really character-driven action. It’s a choreography. It’s a fun dance. It’s a violent dance.

Is there a sequence from Braven that sticks out as being especially challenging?

I jump off that fucking cliff in the end! We couldn’t get a crane—the crane went over the cliff, but the wind was so high on the day that we couldn’t get the shot that we wanted to. So we put our stunt guys over that cliff with pads.

Garret [Dillahunt] did the stunt, I couldn’t believe it. Imagine standing on the edge of a cliff, having me run at you, tackle you, and fall backward off a cliff and on to some pads that are laying diagonally off that cliff. Meanwhile, it’s freezing fucking cold. Our hands are in the snow. Your hands are just shot with frost. It was painful as hell out there. I wanted us to really go over the cliff and have the camera follow us, but it was a small-budget action movie. If I had millions and millions of dollars it would have been maybe a little more suspenseful, but we did a lot of action for a really little amount of money. It was fun to do, and I was really proud of all the actors.

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(Rodale Inc.)

When you think about the physicality and training for a role, is it different playing someone like Aquaman compared to a relatively normal guy like Joe Braven?

Totally. When I was doing Braven I wasn’t really doing too much. I think we were more doing stretching, just to make sure we didn’t get hurt. A little bit of cardio so you can run through the snow. Joe’s doing everyday man work. Strong hands, strong legs. But he’s not out there doing overhead presses and military lifts.

When I have to shape my body into a superhero, it’s a different story. You have trainers following you everywhere, and a cook. Right now I’m on Frontier, the character lives in the 1790’s and 1800’s, so I’m not in the force ripping out sit ups, you know? But he’s definitely running and hunting, so you just accommodate the role.

Ultimately, Braven is about a good dude trying to do his best. In light of movements like #MeToo, how can dudes be better?

Well, I’ve never really experienced one of those situations, the sexual harassment. If someone is having that happen, or if I was harassed, you need to put a voice to it. It just can’t happen. I think it’s great that it’s been brought to the forefront, because this shit ain’t going to happen anymore. People are watching. I think it’s great that it’s in the forefront now.

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