Lone Wolf


By William Van Meter

Joe Manganiello was a theater-loving jock who defended the arty kids in school, but never felt he belonged to any clique. Then he was cast in 'True Blood' and found his feet—all four of them.

Photography by Matthew Brookes

Styling by Grant Woolhead

"It was brown, now it’s gray. i don’t know what the hell happened. it seems to me, people like it. Nobody’s complained.”

The actor Joe Manganiello is musing on his beard, the ever-present scruff that contrasts the 35-year-old’s youthful vigor. Like Tom Selleck's Magnum, P.I. mustache was to the '80s, Manganiello's salt-and-pepper beard (heavy on the salt) is becoming the lusty facial hair of this era.

It is mid-morning and Manganiello is sipping an Americano at an outdoor table. The café is a few blocks from his house in the tony Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. His eyes are shielded by black Persol sunglasses. Strands of thick dark hair hang down in front of the lenses and touch his regal nose. He’s wearing a gray T-shirt and jeans. The flashiest part of his outfit are his black and yellow old-school Nike Dunks. Leaning back in a chair, he looks as nondescript as a six-foot-five man can. He is famously fit, but doesn’t stand out as a muscle-bound behemoth.

“If I was on 'roids, I would be this monster,” he says. “That’s not the goal.”

Manganiello marked his territory in the public consciousness as the werewolf Alcide on HBO's soft-core Goth horror soap, True Blood. With his brooding romance-novel looks, he became an instant sex symbol when he debuted in 2010 (he has since signed on for five more seasons). The fact that he sheds his clothes to transform into lupine form doesn’t hurt matters. Manganiello views this as pragmatism rather than an extension of creator Alan Ball’s gay sensibility. “As far as the butt cheek stuff goes,” he says, “it just makes sense. It’s not gratuitous; it’s realistic. If you’re a werewolf and you transform, you lose everything and there are your butt cheeks. The show is a deconstruction of supernatural creatures. It’s not like other werewolf projects, where you magically reappear with tiny jean shorts on.”

With Magic Mike, Manganiello will wear less material than those aforementioned Daisy Dukes. Slated for a June release, the film is based upon costar Channing Tatum's pre-Hollywood career as a Tampa, Fla., erotic dancer (Tatum also co-produced the film). Rounding out the cast are warhorse stallion Matthew McConaughey and It-boy hunks du jour Alex Pettyfer and Matt Bomer.