I missed this interview that Joe did with GQ Magazine talking about True Blood and Magic Mike. Check it out:
Joe Manganiello plays werewolf Alcide on True Blood, and even though he’s a good guy, you definitely get that there’s a beast within. Part of that is thanks to his bonkers physique: The 35-year-old actor is 6’5″ with pecs that rival Thor’s. He’ll use that same genetic leg-up playing Big Dick Richie in Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike (out June 29th) about a troupe of male strippers who show a newcomer the ropes (the script is loosely based on co-star Channing Tatum’s experience as a stripper). In a GQ.com exclusive, Manganiello talks about staying in Chippendales-shape, Alcide’s thing for Sookie, and dressing up like Captain Morgan.
GQ: Obviously, a lot has happened to your character since last season, including your girlfriend Debbie getting her head blown off. How has Alcide changed?
Joe Manganiello: Whereas in his first two seasons, Alcide was mostly having things done to him and reacting, grudgingly, this season he’s taking a more active role. He’s going after Sookie. He’s seeking out Sam and protecting him. He’s owning it this year.
The pack is hoping Alcide will take over as Alpha Male, which he’s not into at all. How would you describe his leadership style?
He reminds me of Michael Corleone in The Godfather. Michael wanted nothing to do with his family. He joined the military. He married a woman who was not Italian. But when push came to shove, he had to become involved. And once he did, he realized he was good at it. I think Michael had a fear of that thing inside him, afraid of what would happen if he turned that switch on. He knew if he engaged, he would become the most vicious of any of them. I think that’s where Alcide is at now.
There’s a super sexy new she-wolf this season. How long before you tap that?
Alcide learned from Debbie that werewolf women are duplicitous and not to be trusted. He has a really big heart and I think the right person for him also has a big heart. He’s in love with Sookie. Her sweetness matches his sweetness.
So he’s going to end up with Sookie?
Time has never been on their side, but I always got the sense that they’d be a good match if timing did work out.
How did you perfect your remarkably scary growl?
I hung out with live wolves.
That’s funny. But, really.
Seriously. I spent time with them, observed them. I watched where their growls came from, how they move, how they interacted. I looked at posture charts and what it means when their tail is tucked a certain way. It’s funny because I just did the cover of Entertainment Weekly, in character, and I didn’t even realize it but I was growling during the shoot when I got in wolf-like poses.
That’s taking Method to a whole new level. Alcide gets naked a lot, and so does your stripper in Magic Mike. Do you worry about that, in terms of how you’re perceived as an actor?
I come from a classical theater background, but I don’t feel like I have anything to prove. I’ve talked to actors and been like Oh, wow, man, Congrats. Your show got huge ratings last night! And they’ll be, I’m not in this for the ratings. I’m in it for the craft. Yeah, dude, I know you are. I got it. But come on! Big ratings, that’s fun. I’m in it for the fun.
A good attitude for playing a stripper!
Magic Mike was absolutely hilarious. [Co-star] Matt Bomer and I were drama school classmates at Carnegie Mellon and there was a point on set where we just looked at each other and were like, Ancient Greek to Chekhov to Tennessee Williams to male stripping. I just don’t take myself very seriously. Neither does Matt or Matthew McConaughey or Channing Tatum or anyone else in Magic Mike.
McConaughey is having something of a comeback this year. He’s also a notorious kook. Did you experience any of that?
The first time I met him he was wearing a yellow halter top with spandex shorts. It was for the film, but I was like, My God. This guy is all out. Or rather all in. His level of commitment was so inspiring—like 110%. The guy steals the movie.
What was it like working with Soderbergh?
The locker room scenes in the film are like Animal House, and they were improvised. We all had this chemistry together and Steven would have us sit around while we were lifting weights and talk about normal guy stuff—about some guy who hooked up with a Waffle House waitress. After 40 minutes or so, Steven would be like, Okay, just do that—talk about Waffle House again. And he’d start shooting.
I’m assuming, given your observation of wolves, that you consulted with real strippers before filming started.
I have a long-time friend who was a male stripper in Dallas in the 90s. I bought him lunch and grilled him for two hours, took notes. It made me realize how hysterical that whole world is—almost like pro wrestling.
How did you all stay in shape? The food must have been pretty healthy.
The crew was into donuts and pizza, but, yeah, you can’t serve us that kind of stuff. It’s part of the job. It’s protein, protein, vegetables. There was a Bally’s around the corner from the set, so we’d lift weights on our breaks. We had weights on set, too, so we’d pump up between shots. It was like the land of the bumblebees in that Blind Melon video.
How much do you bench?
Ah, I don’t know. I don’t max out, because I’m not looking to get any bigger. But I can do 225 lbs. around 15-18 times.
Did you have an epic Dirk Diggler moment playing a stripper named Big Dick Richie?
That’s funny because I do a mean Mark Wahlberg impersonation and Channing and McConaughey always would make me do it. Whenever Steven would take an extra long time, I’d be like, [impersonating Wahlberg in Boogie Nights] Steven, let’s go! Let’s fucking shoot right now. I’m fucking ready! I’m fucking ready to shoot this! This is my fucking movie! This is my fucking big dick! But, uh, yeah, let’s just say there are two scenes where you find out how Big Dick Richie got his name.
Was it awkward being such a big guy—and I’m referring to your height now—when you were growing up?
I’ve been 6’5” since I was 16. It meant I was going to destroy everyone in sports. Being big, tall, and athletic was probably the defining factor of my adolescence and I wouldn’t have traded it for anything.
When you were younger you had a job dressing up as Captain Morgan at bars in your hometown of Pittsburgh.
I started at 16 and did it until I was 21. I got paid $25 an hour. Then I got a job working for Finlandia vodka. I spent my summer traveling on a bus, going to every bar and club in the country. After that, I got a job with Camel back in Pittsburgh. I handed out cigarettes in bars. Then I moved to LA and was a doorman at a club, a bouncer at a Mexican rock bar, and then a bodyguard for Tyrese Gibson.
Those all sound like great job experience for playing a stripper.
Going in and out of bars for that long, you see people excited to go out, excited for where the night is going to take them, and then you see someone OD. And it’s like, Holy shit, are they dead? No. They are fine. Okay, back to the party. Basically you see people at their most base and animalistic. And, well, there’s a lot of that in Magic Mike—not to mention True Blood.
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