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Game of Thrones‘ Jason Momoa Tells the Origin Story Behind His Viral Audition: ‘The First Time I Did It, They Were Very Scared’

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Years after Khal Drogo was killed off of Game of Thrones, Jason Momoa’s epic audition tape for the HBO fantasy drama is still making the Internet rounds. Of course, that’s because of the unusual way the Justice League actor tried out for the part of the Dothraki warlord — by performing a Maori haka.

During a recent interview with The New York Times, Momoa revealed that his character’s lack of dialogue inspired the decision to do the traditional war dance. “On Game of Thrones, [Drogo] doesn’t say much. So how do you convey him? There’s nothing in the script,” he explained. “So I said: ‘I have this idea. Is it OK to do [a dance] before the audition?’ And they were like, ‘Oh, sure.’ Then I did the Haka. It was challenging to do the audition afterward — I couldn’t stop my heart from beating. The first time I did it, they were very scared. But then they wanted me to come back in so they could put it on tape.”

Momoa went on to offer some insight into how he chose to portray the silent but deadly Drogo. “You have to walk around like you’re a king,” he said. “I’m not the king in my own house. I have to wash the dishes and take out the trash and say, ‘Yes, baby.’ I’m 6-foot-5, but I kind of walk around hunched over. I’m not like, ‘Hey, check me out.’ But Drogo had to have that posture.”

Watch a clip of Momoa’s audition below.

Read more at NYTimes.com.

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Write to Megan McCluskey at megan.mccluskey@time.com