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Director Marcus Nispel is speaking out after Jason Momoa criticized their 2011 movie, Conan the Barbarian.
In a statement to PEOPLE, Nispel opened up about the difficulties he faced as the director of the film.
"As a filmmaker in this system you are a dog on many leashes. Trying to get Conan done under those circumstances was the worst experience that I had and I was as unhappy with the result," Nispel, 59, tells PEOPLE. "I am happy though that none of this got in the way of Jason's career path…I always stood by the decision to make Conan with him."
Nispel also shared that he was honored to give the Aquaman actor, 43, his first leading role in the action-adventure film.
"My friend John Milius once said: 'There is always a sense of defeat in every victory.' In regards to having had the pleasure and privilege of having given Jason his first leading part, I say: 'There can also be a sense of victory in a defeat,' " adds Nispel.
The director concluded the statement on a light-hearted note with a joke about the action star's famous physique: "By the way – the muscles that Jason flexed for Game of Thrones. I paid for those."
In a new interview with British GQ published on Monday, Momoa expressed his disappointment with Conan the Barbarian, telling the outlet, "I've been a part of a lot of things that really sucked, and movies where it's out of your hands. Conan was one of them. It's one of the best experiences I had and it [was] taken over and turned into a big pile of s---."
While Momoa did not go into detail about how it was "taken over," the actor went on to state that after playing mainly hyper-masculine men in his career, he is looking forward to breaking that mold.
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"It's been hard because people always think I'm just this dude who plays [macho characters]. But I want to be moved, I want something new. Things are changing, and even the villain roles I'm playing now are eccentric," he said.
Momoa will next star in the upcoming sequel Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom and plays a villain in the upcoming 10th Fast and Furious movie.