Tall Glass Of Joe
By Dio Anthony
Standing six-foot-five and weighing 220 pounds, Joe Manganiello is a majestic, towering, yet somehow warm and home-like image of a man. Snagging roles like the sexy and overprotective Alcide Herveaux on HBO’s True Blood and that of an even sexier being as Big Dick Richie in 2012’s Magic Mike, there’s no denying that Joe brings the sexy, no matter what character he’s playing and no matter what he’s doing, but his outlook on getting in shape and staying fit is a simple one.
“There are so many things that are out of your control in this business, and I think in life in general. And one of the things that I really do have in my control is how hard, how much effort I put into the gym,” says the One Tree Hill alum. “There’s really nothing else on the planet – nothing that I’ve come across – that gives you as much back as you put in as the gym does.”
Manganiello’s acting skills are just as impressive as his killer physique. Whether it’s shifting into a wolf, mid-run in Bon Temps, or playing Stanley Kowalski in Tennessee Williams’ A Street Car Named Desire, this guy knows how to commit. And that’s putting it lightly.
“Talent is such an objective thing; it’s up for opinion, and it’s up for interpretation. And the one thing that’s not is work ethic,” he says. “I think that’s probably just from growing up in Pittsburg, coming from where I did, and in that part of the world, you work hard. I come from very hard working people, and I know the value of a dollar. So if someone’s going to pay me a certain amount of money to do something, then I’m going to work my ass off. Especially playing a supernatural creature – I think [Alcide] should look that way. As a kid watching all those movies and reading comic books, the chance for me to play a supernatural character…I want him to look right.”
Manganiello, who first appeared in the HBO series back in 2010, took the role seriously from day one, and learned pretty quickly that even a degree from Carnegie Mellon wouldn’t keep the backlash away.
“When you’re playing a werewolf, there aren’t werewolves out there who are going to come out of the woodwork and tell you you’re doing it wrong. But, there are people from Mississippi that can come out and tell you. I wanted to make sure I got the accent and the dialect right, because there’s people that live there. It was more about doing right by them rather than me having some kind of difficulty with Alcide’s accent.”
Playing a character who can morph into a mini-beast sounds thrilling in itself. Six seasons later and a final seventh on the way, Manganiello is here to stay for one final supernatural swing. And with Alcide and Sookie now officially a couple, with only a season’s worth of episodes to wrap things up, one must wonder which monster is most deserving of her love, and fairy blood for that matter.
“This is the first season that I actually don’t know what’s in store for me or anyone else on the show. I didn’t ask,” he says. “I usually have lunch with whoever the show runner is before the season starts. I would always call them up, wanting to know. But this year I think I want to be surprised. I have theories, you know, but I don’t know anything for sure.” Following the end of Season 5, show creator and showrunner Alan Ball stepped down, handing the throne to longtime writer of the series, Brian Buckner. Should fans credit Buckner with reuniting Sookie and Alcide? Maybe.
Playing the do-gooder-turned-werewolf-pack-leader-turned-fairy-lover-and-occasional-murderer-for-the-greater-good must be loads of fun. But Manganiello’s favorite part of all the bloody shenanigans that ensue on the series? His answer might surprise you.
“I think [playing the werewolf] awakens the kid in me,” he says. “There’s something about making a monster human, and there’s something about exploring the humanity of someone that isn’t human. I think that’s particularly fun. Probably the most fun thing to do is to take this creature that would normally be seen as a monster and make him lovable and have a heart.” Self proclaimed True Blood experts like myself would consider this a win of sorts. Manganiello has done exactly that: turned a towering beast of a man into a loving and mannered figure in Alcide. His thoughts as a kid on the subject of a “monster” were less traditional than the actor’s choice in roles. “I always watched monster movies as a kid and I always felt bad for [the monsters],” he says. “I felt bad for the Phantom of the Opera, I felt bad for Frankenstein, and certainly, I think it’s the misunderstood monster that makes the character more lovable”.
With the release of his first book Evolution: The Cutting Edge Guide to Breaking Down Mental Walls and Building the Body You’ve Always Wanted, the 36-year-old can now add “author” to his list of professions. Although book deals aren’t a rare occurrence in the Hollywood machine, fans of Manganiello who’ve sought fitness inspiration from the actor will now have something of a bible, full of the star’s best kept secrets for wellness of the mind, body, and soul. For the rest of us, True Blood box-sets and Netflix reruns will have to do.
Photography Aleksandar Tomovic
Styling Warren Alfie Baker
Production Bello Media Group