Jason Momoa‘s intimidating frown in “Aquaman” is finally explained. It’s possibly pain from the hip-hugging rig and harness needed to shoot scenes replicating underwater movement. The outcomes look spectacular in the DC Comics deep-sea extravaganza, which has dominated at the box office.
But director James Wan admitted that the hours of shooting were excruciating on Momoa’s nether region.
“(Jason) wasn’t the biggest fan of the swimming rig we had to put him in. It’s not the most comfortable rig for actors,” says Wan. “It puts a lot of pressure around the crotch. So for someone like Momoa, who is more than 200 pounds, it’s not the most pleasant experience.”
Wan’s technical crew had to develop a system that would let the characters to “float” in their underwater world. They developed a tuning fork-type rig in which the actors were perched from hip harnesses. Shot against blue screen (with the water added later via CGI), the rig permitted for realistic movement and dialogue.
“If they are floating around and talking to each other, they have to be harnessed into these rigs,” says Wan. “It was a necessity for the film.”
Momoa, who has two kids with spouse Lisa Bonet, used to joke about with Wan about the long-term effects of the snug harness. “Jason would to say to me, ‘James, I don’t think I’ll be having more kids anytime soon,’ “ says Wan.
Momoa, Patrick Wilson (as King Orm) and Dolph Lundgren (King Nereus) even came up with a system to help relieve the pain during long shoots.
“One of the things they would do to keep the pressure off their (midsection) is they would lean forward, and sort of spin themselves upside down,” says Wan. “That allowed the pressure to come off.”
Bright side: The scenes are outstanding, and the technique surely beat shooting in cold water, as Momoa did for “Justice League” in England.
“That was an eye-opener. England is really cold and we were wet often,” says Momoa. “But you’re playing Aquaman. What am I going to do, cry about being wet? Do your damn job, actor boy.”