Jason Momoa was not pleased when an interviewer recently asked him if he regretted portraying a rape scene in the pilot episode of Game of Thrones. Momoa played Khal Drogo in the series, where the story kicked off with his wedding to Daenerys Targaryen. Momoa was thoughtful in his answer and even brought it up later on to turn it back on that reporter.
A New York Times reporter asked Momoa if he felt "differently today about those scenes" and if he has "any regrets" about them. The actor responded: "Well, it was important to depict Drogo and his style. You're playing someone that's like Genghis Khan. It was a really, really, really hard thing to do. But my job was to play something like that, and it's not a nice thing, and it's what that character was. It's not my job to go, 'Would I not do it?' I've never really been questioned about 'Do you regret playing a role?' We'll put it this way: I already did it. Not doing it again."
Momoa brought the question back up at the end of his NYT interview. He said: "When you brought up Game of Thrones, you brought up stuff about what's happening with my character and would I do it again. I was bummed when you asked me that," he said. "It just feels icky — putting it upon me to remove something. As if an actor even had the choice to do that. We're not really allowed to do anything. There are producers, there are writers, there are directors, and you don't get to come in and be like, 'I'm not going do that because this isn't kosher right now and not right in the political climate.' That never happens. So it's a question that feels icky. I just wanted you to know that."
The scene in question is one of the most infamous when it comes to changes made from the A Song of Ice and Fire books to the Game of Thrones TV show. In George R.R. Martin's novel, the first sexual encounter between Daenerys and Drogo is consensual, though there are obviously some implied threats to consider. Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss changed it to an out-and-out sexual assault without informing Martin, and he told author James Hibberd last year that he believed the change made the story worse overall.
Most criticism of Game of Thrones has fallen on Benioff and Weiss, whose decision it was to cut the last few seasons of the series short. The writers are also responsible for other instances of sexual violence in the show which were not in the book, and which were regarded by many critics as excessive, with no service to the plot. The other prominent example is the wedding night scene between Sansa Stark and Ramsey Bolton in Season 5, which was not in the books.
Fans can explore those differences for themselves in Martin's books, available here in print, digital and audiobook formats. Martin has provided promising updates on the next installment, The Winds of Winter on his personal blog. Many fans expect it and the final volume to depict a more satisfying ending to the story than the TV show did. Game of Thrones is streaming now on HBO Max and House of the Dragon hits HBO in the spring of 2022.