I'm not a TRUE BLOOD watcher, so my knowledge of Joe Manganiello was fairly limited heading into my chat with him about MAGIC MIKE. Don't get me wrong... I was well aware of the fact that he's on the show and who his character is, but, beyond that, I was in the dark.
However, in starting my prep work, the first thing that immediately stuck out to me was that Manganiello played Flash Thompson in Sam Raimi's first SPIDER-MAN film. I barely remember exactly what Flash looked like during his encounter with Tobey Maguire's Peter Parker, but I do know that he wasn't the bearded hulking man I saw get out of the elevator and walk down the hall towards me on interview day.
Manganiello is a big dude... there's really no other way to put it... and it's easy to see why the ladies would be all over him from his role on TRUE BLOOD as the werewolf Alcide Herveaux or as Big Dick Richie in MAGIC MIKE. He's a good looking rugged man... but deep down, he's also a fanboy of pretty epic proportions, which comes out fairly quickly during the time we had together.
I really wanted to get his perspective on being part of a well-liked superhero franchise that's in the midst of being rebooted only five years after its last installment, and also get into some MAN OF STEEL territory with him. (We did both). And, of course, we were able to talk about the perception of strip clubs and strippers with a little TRUE BLOOD thrown in for good measure. Enjoy.
The Infamous Billy the Kidd - I want to start off a little bit away from MAGIC MIKE. You auditioned for the role of Peter Parker in Sam Raimi’s SPIDER-MAN, and then you wound up being Flash Thompson, which was 10 years ago now.
Joe Manganiello - Actually it was 12 years ago that I auditioned.
The Kidd - Well 12 years ago that you auditioned, but 10 years ago that it came out.
Joe Manganiello - Yeah.
The Kidd - And now this summer you have the reboot with THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. You have a recast Flash Thompson. So I’m just kind of wondering what your thoughts are of this new origins story of Spider-Man being done so closely to a very memorable Sam Raimi trilogy of films.
Joe Manganiello - Well first of all, it makes me feel really old, now, for starters. Past that, yeah, I’m interested to see what they did with it. I mean, I love Sam. I was excited to see Sam’s part four.
The Kidd - Me, too.
Joe Manganiello - So I’m... but, you know, with that said... I’m interested to see what they’ll do with him.
The Kidd - Very...
Joe Manganiello - I’m being very diplomatic right now.
The Kidd - It’s also not the only time that you’ve been up for a superhero role. I know you were at least scheduled to screen test for MAN OF STEEL, and then TRUE BLOOD’s schedule interfered, and you kind of had to drop out of consideration for it. What is it about you that screams superhero that you keep getting brought in for these roles? And are you kind of disappointed that...you know, always the bridesmaid, never the bride at this point?
Joe Manganiello - Well, I mean, the thing about Superman was it... I mean, I know the right one is out there for me... there wasn’t anything I could do with Superman. There was interest from every single possible angle on that project, and the reason they were interested was because of TRUE BLOOD. From the director, to casting, to the producers involved, it was all because of TRUE BLOOD, that was why I was in the running. And at the end of the day, it was TRUE BLOOD’s schedule that kept me from doing it. There’s just no human way possible I could be in two places at once when I’m contracted to be on TRUE BLOOD. So it’s the thing that brought me... got me the notice is also the thing that... But with that said, you know, it’s not really a bridesmaids situation, because I play a superhero on TV. I play a superpowered person with a secret identity who has these powers and I’m really... You know what, I’m glad that I got to shoot this season of TRUE BLOOD, because we have a new fight coordinator named Hiro Koda, who did all the fight scenes for HANNA and we’ve almost developed this wolf-style of combat this year, so you see a lot of... You know, it really does feel like I’m in a superhero movie. I’m in a 12-hour superhero movie this season.
The Kidd - Do you anticipate being brought up then for the eventually rebooted Batman to just kind of give you the kind of Holy Trinity of...
Joe Manganiello - From your mouth to God’s ears, man. I mean of course, I grew up, as a kid, I read comic books, and I watched every single comic book movie that ever... You know, I was a big sci-fi fan, I was just that kid. I’m a fanboy at heart. So, yeah, that is on my radar, and I think in the back of my mind, even going getting classical theatre training to the way that I work out at the gym, all of it in the back of my mind has been to build this thing, this career in order to play...
The Kidd - Things that you would have liked to see yourself...
Joe Manganiello - To play a superhero the way I would have liked to see it as a kid. And I think that was the really disappointing thing about the Superman situation was that I think that I know comic books really well, and I had a really fresh take on the character and I really think I... I was excited to share a take on where to take him and give him a little more edge.
The Kidd - Yeah, well especially being a fanboy you know the criticsm or the microscope that all these films... Even just the minor details like the suit or whatever that these things get put under, so that’s why i was curious to know if it was really heartbreaking or...
Joe Manganiello - Yeah, it was, because, like I said, I had a take on it that I think was going to resonate. You know, I’m lucky that I’ve gotten to work on really high concept projects with really smart people. Sam Raimi as an example. You know, Sam was really hesitant to put Venom into the movies... Because he didn’t understand why an audience would hook into that. I mean it looks cool, the black suit, you can sell merchandise, all new Halloween costumes, but what’s human about that? I think the reason that SPIDER-MAN 1 and 2 worked so well was that there was such a human component to it. I think that’s the reason why TRUE BLOOD works so well is we’re not really playing monsters, we’re playing these people who are dealing with this...
The Kidd - This conflict, which is just kind of prevalent through the Marvel Universe.
Joe Manganiello - The Marvel characters are really human, and I think that they get hurt, and they fall in love and there’s a whole side of that, to those Marvel characters, that I grew up with, to those X-Men characters. I think that’s what resonates. I was interested in taking that approach... There’s a series of comics called Supreme Power where they deconstruct the DC characters and I was looking at those thinking, "That’s the take." There’s this baby that falls to Earth in a meteor, and why fight for America? Why fight for anything? Why choose them, and not them? How do you save this person’s life knowing that one dies if you save them? How do you make those choices? Feeling alone, being an alien. You know, there’s a whole side of that that I was interested in the human aspect of this alien living on the planet. That’s what really hooked me about the character and, you know, I had a long talk with Zack Snyder about it, and I was really excited. I got really excited about it. But at the end of the day, that wasn’t mine.
The Kidd - It wasn’t meant to be.
Joe Manganiello - That just wasn’t meant to be. You know Alcide is where my energy is right now as far as superheroes go. That’s where my energy is being channeled, and past that, I know there will be a superhero for me, I’m just not sure what it is. We’ll figure that out when it comes out... But Batman? Come on, man. Yeah. Okay. We’ll cross that bridge if and when it comes up.
The Kidd - The thing that kinda strikes me here in MAGIC MIKE is this really interesting difference between what exists in a female strip club and a male strip club. There are many more theatrics, whether it’s the costumes or the props or the skits that tie it in. I was kinda wondering why, from at least your perspective of playing the character, why do you think there’s such this gap between what men want going in and what women want going in? Because it is really... I mean at the core it’s the same, but getting there is extremely different.
Joe Manganiello - Yeah, well, I mean, boys and girls are different. [Laughs] And I think, yes, it is evidenced by that. I mean, there’s... Well... Female stripping is sexy, and it’s done in a more serious manner, generally. Also just in the clubs, men are not allowed to touch the women, because men are physically threatening to the women, so they have to be protected. Men are not threatened by women physically, so there’s just a whole wall that gets ripped down. As rowdy as they want to be, that’s fine. Because generally, the male strippers are the... bigger of the male population. They’re these huge jacked up guys. A lot of these guys are on steroids... Tons of drugs. So these women aren’t a threat and I think it creates this fun atmosphere, but as far as the fantasties go, yeah... It’s more theme driven, it’s more character driven.
The Kidd - This guy’s a fireman, this guy’s a lumberjack...
Joe Manganiello - The cop, I mean it’s like the Village People or something, which is really weird if you think about it...
The Kidd - Totally non-sexy, you’d think going into it.
Joe Manganiello - Yeah, and I don’t know why that works, I just know when I put on a fireman suit at the MTV Movie Awards... There’s some people requesting that I bring it home with me. So, I don’t know why it works, I just know that it does, and I think it lends this sense of humor to it and I think that moment at the Movie Awards was so great and so fun because it let everyone in on the joke. This is the joke, it’s really funny. We can’t be sexy, it’s really difficult for us to...
The Kidd - Women look... Women have just a sexy look to them as opposed to... Men are just... they just kinda look... They have appendages, everything’s just kind of “Uhh...”
Joe Manganiello - Yeah, you don’t want to see a male stripper doing jumping jacks, which we do in the movie which is kind of comedy, you know. And with that said, there’s some of that on TRUE BLOOD as well. We all are kind of representative of these harlequin romance characters, whether they’re the European sleek vampire or the big burly bearded country dude who works construction. There were all these archetypes that... But yeah, for women I think it’s more about the...the story...? I guess...? I mean I’m learning as I go along here, too.
The Kidd - There is a real kind of darkness behind the scenes. I mean there is some fun and games that kind of goes with the camaraderie, but there is also a lot of feeding into a lifestyle, whether it’s addiction or drugs... It’s kind of this rock and roll lifestyle that a lot of people get captured by.
Joe Manganiello - Yes.
The Kidd - Knowing that it’s out there, why do you think it kind of continues to suck people in? I mean, knowing the dangers that are out there and kind of knowing that...
Joe Manganiello - Well I mean everyone knows smoking is bad for you. Everyone knows drugs are bad. Everyone knows drinking’s bad. But everybody does it. I think there’s a Lost Boys aspect to club life and I think that this movie really accurately depicts that club life. It’s fun. It’s fun. It’s... you know, getting ready with the music on at home, putting your shirt on to go out. The excitement of not knowing where you’re gonna end up. It’s fun at the beginning, and, well, it’s usually fun for years. And then it’s fun with problems. And then it’s just problems. And there’s... The first 40 minutes of this movie are hysterically funny, like fall out of your chair funny, and then it starts getting fun with problems. And then... It’s that feeling in a club... I’ve worked in clubs from the time I was 16 years old, and... When GHB started hitting clubs... This movie talks about GHB, which is kind of a rare... I read the script and I went, “Wow, we’re talking about GHB? This is... I’ve never seen this in a movie.” I can’t tell you the amount of people that I had to revive, keep awake, carry out of a club, on this drug. And, there was an amount of it where it was like, "Oh my God, someone's gonna die, someone’s gonna die, someone’s gonna die... Oh no, okay, they’re alive, they’re gonna live. Phew! Back to the party." I think there’s a real... There’s an... I want to say manic, schizophrenic kind of manic juxtaposition between that good time and this completely tragic... I mean people do die. I think that’s pretty accuratly depicted in this movie. It’s just these guys who are riding the edge not thinking about tomorrow. Some of these guys are in their fifties and they’re still stuck there. That’s really what the movie hits on though.
The Kidd - Let me ask you one more quick question, I know Robert Patrick has just been announced to play your dad in this season of TRUE BLOOD.
Joe Manganiello - Yeah.
The Kidd - How excited are you to work with him...
Joe Manganiello - I’ve been working with him. He’s awesome. He’s great. I mean, I love him and I love what he’s doing with the character and I love our interaction. It gives you such a really rich feeling. From the first time we worked together, we had this father-son scene where there’s not much being said, but everything is being said. It’s really... Their relationship is really... It’s really interesting, and it’s dark, and it gives you a really strong understanding of what went wrong in that family and why Alcide hates who he is. It’s great, and I love Robert. Yeah, I’m having a blast with him.
The Kidd - Alright. Thank you very much.
Joe Manganiello - Sure.
The Kidd - Absolutely.
After we ran out of time and I left the room, I had to go back in a short while later to retrieve something I'd forgotten, and, while Joe had a break, he came back to me to tell me that he'd been thinking about some of the stuff we were talking about earlier in regards to superheroes. When I asked him if he'd been stewing about it since I left, he told me that it was just something that popped into his head, but we ran out of time. He stated that DC would never allow something like Superman and Wonder Woman to have sex... or Batman and Catwoman. None of these characters would be allowed to explore those types of territories, which is a freeing benefit to where characters are able to go in TRUE BLOOD. They're not bound to the legacy of those particular characters, so they can still explore superhero mythology without being confined.
I asked him if he'd actually seen a script for MAN OF STEEL when he was in the running, to which he told me that he'd discussed the entire project with Zack Snyder. Then I followed up by asking if what we'd talked about earlier was kind of an idea as to what type of Superman movie we're looking at. He got the nudge to shy away from answering that, so he told me that Henry Cavill brings a different sort of energy to the character, so he's curious to see how it comes together... but I think we've got a sense as to how MAN OF STEEL is shaping up as a result.
Joe Manganiello really does know his shit, so it's a little disappointing to know that someone who truly does have a passion for the material hasn't been involved in a superhero movie as such yet. These are the types of people we long to be part of bringing our beloved comic book characters to life, so I do hope he gets his shot to carry one on his own sometime in the future... For geeks by geeks.
MAGIC MIKE opens in theatres this Friday, June 29.
"The Infamous Billy The Kidd"
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