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Scott D. Pierce
Scott D. Pierce writes about television for the Salt Lake Tribune. Vice president of the Television Critics Associationn, he's covered TV in Utah since 1990.

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TV review: Momoa will surprise you in SundanceTV’s ‘The Red Road’

Jason Momoa is going to surprise you in the engaging new SundanceTV drama "The Red Road."

To date, his acting roles have emphasized his physicality. Whether it was Khal Drogo in "Game of Thrones," Ronan Dex in "Stargate Atlantis" or the title role in the "Conan the Barbarian" remake, Momoa was cast as hulking, often menacing characters.

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He’s still hulking and menacing in "The Red Road," which premieres Thursday at 10 p.m. MT on SundanceTV (formerly known as the Sundance Channel). But we also get a chance to see that he can act. And he’s great in this six-part miniseries.

Momoa stars as Philip Kopus, an ex-con/drug dealer who’s a member of a Native American tribe in rural New Jersey. (A tribe that actually exists, by the way.) His mother, Marie (Tamara Tunie), is a tribal leader, but Kopus is an outcast.

He has a history with the local cop, Harold Jensen (Martin Henderson), and even moreso with Harold’s trouble wife, Jean (Julianne Nicholson). And when Jean does something that ought to land her in jail and Harold covers it up, Kopus finds out about it and uses it to his advantage.

What makes "The Red Road" distinctive is that it’s much more complicated than your average TV drama. It’s not easy to figure out who the good guys are and who the bad guys are - good guys do bad things and bad guys do good things.

"That made it enticing for me to take the role," Momoa said. "I like people making the assumption that this guy is the bad guy. But then they go - wait."

"Im my own personal life, if I had gone down this road there could have been some really bad things happen. And this guy is no different than Harold or from myself. I mean, he was raised by a drug-dealing father. But he still has good in him and he can see it."

Kopus is a scary guy, but you can’t help but like him. And that’s a very tough thing to play.

"I’m excited for people to get to see this side of me," Momoa said. "There’s vulnerability that I don’t necessarily get to show much. I’m pumped."

He’s also pumped about "The Red Road."

"Reading the scripts, I’m screaming at the pages, ‘No way! No way! No way!’" he said. "It keeps you on the edge of your seat."



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