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Capone measures up to Big Dick Richie (aka Joe Manganiello) to talk MAGIC MIKE, True Blood and penis pumps!!!

Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here.

Even though he played the original Flash Thompson in Sam Raimi's SPIDER-MAN and SPIDER-MAN 3, Joe Manganiello spent much of his acting career guesting on TV series like "E.R.," "How I Met Your Mother," and "One Tree Hill." But in the last couple years, his career has picked up substantially thanks to his beard-tastic work on "True Blood" as the werewolf Alcide Herveaux.

More recently, he was in the running to play Superman in Zack Snyder' MAN OF STEEL, and he had a small but amusing role in WHAT TO EXPECT WHAT YOU'RE EXPECTING (seriously, he was one of few things in that movie that's watchable). And this week, Manganiello co-stars in a role he seems almost destined to play: Big Dick Richie in Steven Soderbergh's MAGIC MIKE. And I'll give you three guesses why he has that nickname.

Manganiello is a refreshingly forthcoming guy who has more energy and enthusiasm than just about any other actor I've interviewed. There's being in a good mood, and then there's this guy; and his attitude is infectious. He's also clearly proud of his work on MAGIC MIKE, which we talked about a great deal, as well as his growing role on "True Blood." Please enjoy my talk with Joe Manganiello…

Joe Manganiello: Great to meet you. I just spoke with one of your colleagues in Miami.

Capone: Really? On this tour?

JM: On this press tour, yeah.

Capone: Well then you might have a couple of interviews appearing on our site then.

JM: [laughs] Great! I read the website.

Capone: Thanks. We don’t really talk to each other.

[Both Laugh]

Capone: It’s just like “Hey, you did one too? Okay.” I’m curious, when you get this script and first hear about this character’s focal point, what is your first thought?

JM: Nothing but good. Aw, come on man. Are you kidding? You’re like, “Man, I better jump on this one before it goes to someone else.”

Capone But I mean that specific aspect of the character, because if you think about it, you're the one that all of the husbands and boyfriends are going to hate, because you're the guy that men are afraid are actually working in a place like that.

JM: You mean more afraid of like the shirtless werewolf dude?

Capone: They're afraid that their girlfriends or wives are having guys with huge dicks grinding into their women, yes.

JM: Oh, jeez. Well hopefully they benefit from it when the ladies get home.

[Both Laugh]

Capone: Or they pale in comparison.

JM: [laughs] I don’t know. There were so many pros to working on this movie that it was just overwhelming--the name of the character being first and foremost.

Capone: Does that name put pressure on you to measure up?

JM: I don’t know about pressure. I’m reveling in the curiosity about it, I'll say that.

Capone: That one scene at the beginning with the pump is a little disturbing, and I’m sure you’re sick and tired of talking about this…

JM: No, not at all. I don’t think I’ll ever be sick and tired about that.

Capone: I don’t even understand how it works.

JM: It’s like a suction device, and it’s really fucking creepy. It’s like a vacuum tube. We were low budget. We didn’t have enough money for a fluffer.

Capone: It’s not supposed to increase your size more than you already are, is it?

JM: It fluffs. It just kind of fluffs you out. It gets you ready to get out there.

Capone: Just from pure suction?

JM: I guess. Yeah, it’s very creepy.

Capone: That’s messed up.

JM: It’s like a medieval torture device, yeah.

Capone: And it’s straight out of the '70s. I don’t know if they’ve improved the design at all.

JM: No, the technology level has not improved at all. I am a witness to that.

Capone: So how did you first find out about this movie and about this part?

JM: My agent wanted to send me the script, and I guess as the story goes Channing was a fan of "True Blood," and he had me in mind for it. So the script got passed to me through my agent, and I read it, and it was literally like home run after home run. It was literally scene-stealing moment after scene-stealing moment. It was like penis pump, sewing machine, silhouette routine, fireman, gold paint. It was like, “Are you kidding?” I mean this is my “in memoriam” thing at the Oscars I’m looking at. “Are you kidding? When I die, this is all I need. I’m done. I’m good.”

So I looked at that and I went “Who’s directing?” “Stephen Soderbergh.” “Stephen Soderbergh is going to direct this? Okay. Who else is in it?” “Channing.” “Who else?” “Well they are out with Matthew McConaughey.” “Oh wow.” “And I think they are going to go out to Matt Bomer,” who was my buddy from drama school, and I went “Matt’s going to be in this? Oh Jesus. Okay, let me call Matt.” It was like there were just so many positives it was like, “Come on, what the hell? This is so much fun.”

Capone: There's a funny juxtaposition having that pump sequence and then really close after it the one where you are sewing your costume, and you’ve got the headband on and glasses.

JM: Those are my glasses, actually.

Capone: Oh really?

JM: Yeah. It’s like a sweatshop to me. We’re in this like shitty backstage thing.

Capone: That’s what it is, yeah.

JM: I was like “Okay, well I’m going to do the sweatshop thing and wear the sweatshop outfit.”

Capone: Were you much of a dancer before this, or did you have to really buckle down and train?

JM: I came from athletics. My whole life, I just played sports all year round. So there was that. I did the senior year high school musical, OKLAHOMA, and I had a dance sequence in that. Then at Carnegie Mellon, we had extensive movement training, four years of movement training, and one of the semesters I had the option of taking ballet and jazz, which I did. So those were pretty good basic things to have, and then literally every single character I play is in some sort of fight, whether it’s with knives or bare fists or something, so there’s tons of choreography that I’m constantly going over. So this was in the wheelhouse.

Capone: It’s actually like perfect preparation.

JM: Completely, yeah. Then in junior high, dry humping girls on the couch. That’s good training, too. [Laughs]

Capone: That’s true.

JM: That’s pretty much all it is after about 90 seconds. It’s like “Firemen! Yeah, this is choreographed… Okay, now it’s not choreographed. Now you are just humping her face.”

Capone: So all of the different personas that your character plays on stage, those were all in the script?

JM: Except for the gold man.

Capone: The statue guy was really cool.

JM: Yeah. It evolved because at the time I was up for parts in two gladiator movies that wound up not working with my schedule at all, but at the time I was taking all of these meetings and meeting with directors for these gladiator projects. So when I sat down with the head of costumes, I said, “Listen, whatever we do, just don’t put me in a gladiator costume, because I’m up for these movies. I really just don’t want that floating around. Can we please not do gladiator fighters?” “Oh darn it! We had this gladiator suit!”

Then I meet with the choreographers, and they were like “Okay, so we have this great gladiator routine.” I’m like “No, no, no. I’m not doing the gladiator, I can’t. We need to figure out something else,” and we had this piece of classical music, and when I hear it it made me think of statues, so I pretended that I was made out of rock and came out of the rock and all of these classic poses--“The Thinker,” “The Discus,” the whole thing, and we were like “You know what? You should paint me marble and I should be this living-statue routine.” Well they said “Marble? Forget Marble. We found these two giant 10-foot gold statues, and so we're going to put you in the middle and we'll paint you gold, and it'll be great.” I was like “Gold?” Then that turned into the gold man.

Capone: Wow. There’s a little emphasis in this movie in a couple of scenes, not with you, but emphasis on the hair-removal ritual. Was there any discussion of doing that with your character at all?

JM: I don’t really have any hair to begin with, so I mean I don’t wax or shave or anything. I just don’t have hair, which is completely against my genealogy [Joe is part Sicilian, Austrian, German and Armenian]. I don’t have chest hair, back hair, arm hair. Really I don’t have upper-body hair [he opens up his shirt most of the way to show me]. So it was really just trimming armpit, leg stuff, and that was it. It was just kind of a trim, and the other guys were like, “Fuck you, Joe.” Sorry guys.

Capone: I was talking to Channing before about how Matthew McConaughey just steals this movie in a lot of ways. It’s like he was shot out of a cannon in this movie. The other thing that I noticed is he’s really touchy; he likes to touch all of you, back slapping, rubbing…

JM: It’s super creepy.

Capone: I don’t even mean it’s creepy. But I’m wondering is he like that all of the time, or was that his character?

JM: No, that’s his character. His character is just super creepy. There is a level of creep. When he’s watching The Kid [Alex Pettyfer] dance for the first time, that look on his face when they pan over, you can’t tell if he is happy about it, super angry and going to punch the kid in the face, or squeeze his butt. There’s just a weird combination. So yeah, he’s something else man. Matthew does not know what 99 percent is. Ninety-nine percent does not exist to Matthew McConaughey, and I fucking love that guy for it. He's great. I love being around him.

Capone: What did you experienced in terms of Soderberghs’s directing style with this movie.

JM: Well the choreography scenes were filmed the way you would film a traditional movie, but I think those are our high-concept scenes. Those are the Transformers in our movie, let’s say. [laughs] But when we're shooting dialog, especially the scenes backstage, because he’s his own cameraman, there’s just this whole improvisational style. He doesn’t have to explain his shot to anybody; he just has to say, “Put track over here and give me the lens,” and he has it in his mind.

So because of that lack of translation, we're all curious to see what he saw and what it’s going to look like, because nobody knows. It’s him in there. So he’s almost sniping these shots off where nobody else is seeing through that lens but him. What’s great about it is that if he sees something while we are setting up--guys screwing around, talking about something that’s more interesting than what he was going to shoot--he'll go, “Stop. Give me the lens. Let’s shoot that!” and then all of a sudden, boom, we'll shoot something completely different and we have a new scene in the movie. So there’s a real fun and electricity that happens because of his filmmaking style, which just completely works with the picture.

Capone: You guys are probably sick of talking about the idea of getting straight men to come to this movie.

JM: Here’s my pitch: Any guy who has gone and sat in the back row of a yoga class, okay, who has never done yoga in his life, “Why are you there?” Buy a ticket Friday or Saturday night for MAGIC MIKE.

Capone: And just stand in the lobby and wait for them to come out.

JM: Dude. Done deal. Ready to go. Wear your fire department shirt or your U.S. Marines t-shirt or NYPD hat. It’s like fish in a barrel. They are going to be ready to go. Believe me, they're going to be. I can’t tell you how many girls I run into on the street who are like “Me and my girlfriends are going out for drinks and seeing your movie, we got tickets.” They're rabid. They are ready to go; that’s all I am saying, man.

Look, it’s ANIMAL HOUSE. It’s THE HANGOVER. We are a bunch of dudes. We are just these dudes who do this for a living. We're these hustlers who get paid to fulfill women’s fantasies. It’s a group of guys who do that, and I think any guy who winds up in the theater or flipping through the channels on cable, whatever it is, is going to stop and be able to laugh. They will be like, “This is really fun. This isn’t what I thought it was. This is really, really funny.” And I think what we did at the MTV Movie Awards made that point for us.

Capone: That was great.

JM: Well see? There you go! I mean you’re like “Man, that’s great,” and every straight guy knows like “Dude, that was hilarious.” That’s the movie. That’s the sense of humor right there. That’s what we're doing.

Capone: Ms. Banks was just in town last week, and we were talking about this.

JM: I owe it all to her. Man, if she didn’t go with it, we would have been in big trouble. She didn’t know we were going to do it. But that’s the movie. That’s the sense of humor. That’s it ,and everybody laughs at that, it’s funny.

Capone: So what did you take away from this experience? I know a lot of people who work with Soderbergh for the first time are just like, “It’s going to be hard to go back to the way I’ve done it before.”

JM: You mean like life in general? [Laughs]

Capone: I've often heard that people fall in love with the collaborative way Soderbergh works, and they find it a little difficult to go back to the way they'd been doing things.

JM: Yeah, but I’ve been spoiled my whole career. My first job out of college was SPIDER-MAN with Sam Raimi.

Capone: Which is crazy. I saw that and I thought, “I remember that character.” I never would've remembered that was you, though.

JM: I was a kid.

Capone: I’m guessing you didn’t have a beard in that.

JM: No, I was a baby. But I mean there’s pictures of me five years ago that, if that person walked into the room with me now, you wouldn’t know, and so I was spoiled right off the bat. And I’m spoiled now. I work with Oscar winners--Alan Ball and Ana Paquin--I work with them all day and that talented cast, which is insane. And the directors and writers we work with on that show, it’s unreal. And then to go from that to a Soderbergh movie. Even on WHAT TO EXPECT…, I got to work with Chris Rock, Tom Lennon, Rob Heubel, and a bunch of really funny guys. So there’s nothing but pedigree these past few years; it’s just been great. And people are like “Are you worries about being typecast with your shirt off?” It’s like “Dude, do you look at the stuff I get to work on? And with the people I get to work on it with? Who cares? We all have our shirts off! Who gives a shit?”

Capone: Look at Matthew’s career, come on.

JM: Exactly!

Capone: Let's talk a little bit about "True Blood," because a couple of episodes have aired this season and i feels like you’ve been much more front and center in these first couple of episodes. Is that going to continue?

JM: Way more, even than what it is.

Capone: Wow.

JM: Starting with the [third] episode and then especially into Episode 4. Yeah, it really spikes. There’s a lot for my character to do and some really, really heavy complex stuff coming up. You talk about scenes as an actor that you hope you get to work on, you hope somebody writes this thing for you, and this stuff involving Debbie’s parents when they come back looking for her is gut wrenching. And then of course if you saw the trailer last night grabbing Sookie, because he could just smell it on her that there’s something she’s not telling him, and the idea of that kind of betrayal or that she wouldn’t tell him that the fact that she was the one that pulled the trigger, the fact that Debbie is gone, the fact that the parents are looking.

All of that stuff is such a complex web, and it’s written so brilliantly. When I read that whole plotline this year, I just was like “Thank you, God!” You don’t get material like that all of the time, and it’s really great. Plus there’s all the Pack stuff, and I’m in a fight every damn episode, and there’s all the werewolf stuff going on, so that’s all the really fun stuff too. It’s a great juxtaposition between the two, and it’s an awesome season.

Capone: Alright, cool man. It was great to meet you.

JM: Good to meet you too, yeah sure. Completely different interview than the other guy.

Capone: Good to hear. Thanks.

-- Steve Prokopy
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