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Jason Momoa, the "Game of Thrones" actor who plays Aquaman in Warner Bros.' upcoming movie "Justice League," has apologized for a "truly tasteless" joke he made six years ago about being able, as a fantasy character, to rape beautiful women and then have them fall in love with you.
"I awoke in Australia to the justified reactions by many people to a distasteful joke in Hall H for which I am sorry," the 38-year-old said in an Instagram post that went up late Thursday, U.S. time. "I am still severely disappointed in myself at the insensitivity of my remarks that day."
Momoa has been Down Under working on the standalone "Aquaman" movie, due out next year. On "Thrones," his character, Dothraki chieftain Khal Drogo, was part of a fictional culture that prides itself on raping an enemy's women after triumphing in battle. Drogo also raped his wife, Emilia Clarke's Daenerys Targaryen, shortly after she was handed over to him by her brother.
"I know my sincerest apology now won't take away those hurtful words, said Momoa, who is married to actress Lisa Bonet. "Rape and sexual harassment can reach anyone and I have seen first hand its painful torment among members of my own family and friends."
He described his apology as one made with a "heavy heart."
As for Warner Bros., it has no plans in the wake of the resurfaced footage to take the actor off promotional rounds for "Justice League," which hits theaters Nov. 17, Deadline reported Friday.
Of course, rape in the context of "Game of Thrones" — not to mention the show's gratuitous female nudity, plus rape in general on TV — has been an issue for years, with some fans saying along the way that they were tuning out because they were tired of it.
The comment, made in July 2011, at the "Thrones" panel in Comic-Con International's top-billed Hall H, resurfaced in the context of producer Harvey Weinstein's sexual-harassment scandal. (Watch it here.)
Momoa talked about what it was like working on "Thrones," then segued into why he enjoys working in the fantasy genre on HBO.
"It was like going to acting school. It was really phenomenal. The level of talent was through the roof," he said. "But as far as sci-fi and fantasy, I just love that genre. You do so many things you can't do, like rip someone's tongue out of their throat and get away with it, and rape beautiful women, you know? And then having them fall in love with you, you know what I mean? Next question."
After the crack, as broad laughter from the crowd continued, Momoa hid his face behind his jacket and looked to the other panelists, who also were laughing.
A question followed for Clarke, who plays Daenerys Targaryen, the character who falls in love with Drogo shortly after he rapes her.
Asked for "pointers or tips" on playing a "strong but realistic" woman, Clarke commented about women in general. "We're strong. We're good. We're powerful. We're sexy. ... Own it," she said.
Momoa, who was seated next to her, applauded.
It wasn't the first time he had to talk about rape doing the rounds for "Game of Thrones." Speaking to MTV News in January 2011, the actor was asked about what it was like to film rape scenes with Clarke for the HBO series.
"I've never raped a woman before — which is a good thing — and you don't really get to research that," he said. "Research on that is like, 'Honey, do you mind if I try something?' It doesn't work.
"It's very hard. It's one of the hardest things I ever had to do because I love Emilia," Momoa continued. "She's someone I love and I adore to this day, and you just have to kind of separate and lots of kisses and 'I'm sorry' afterward. It's horrible, but I'm Khal Drogo, and that's what he does.
A few years later, in March 2014, Conan O'Brien brought up Khal Drogo while chatting with Momoa on late-night TV.
The "Conan" host suggested that Drogo's "forceful male presence" had resulted in "a lot of women that say that your character improved their sex lives because they were able to say, 'That's what I want.'
"Men are becoming so, 'Oh, what would you like? I want to make you so happy,' " O'Brien said, mimicking the tone of a wimpy man. "And then your character came along."
Momoa joked in reply, "It's like, 'Woman. Here. Now. Me.' They're looking for a little assertive[ness]. Assertive and aggressive. ... I tried it on my wife. It didn't work."
Even Betty White laughed at that one.