Lone Wolf

2.21.2012

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.

Manganiello’s Greek-sculpture physique worked well with the part. “It’s incredible what kind of shape he’s in,” says the director, Steven Soderbergh. “The joke on the set was he was walking CGI. At one point, we have him painted gold, and it’s pretty cool.” But his body didn’t get him the role.

Soderbergh needed someone who could work well in an untraditional comedy. “It’s kind of a buddy movie,” he explains. “We wanted the feel of Saturday Night Fever, but without the rape scene in the backseat.” The director was impressed after seeing Manganiello on the chat show Chelsea Lately. “That’s where I really found him compelling,” Soderbergh says. “Part of what we required was someone who could improv and bring a lot to the table. He was funny, smart, had a good energy, and was distinctive. I needed to make sure each guy had their own identity, and he didn’t disappoint.”

Manganiello doesn’t mind that this is the second big role that requires him to show a lot of skin. “Somebody’s gotta do it,” he says. “Am I afraid of being typecast? I could care less.”

“I was a pretty gothic, dark kid, obsessed with monsters,” Manganiello says of his Pittsburgh childhood. “I loved Halloween and skulls. I was just that kid. My first concert was Pantera, Sepultura, and Biohazard. I loved industrial like Ministry and Revolting Cocks. I was in love with the chick bassist in White Zombie with fluorescent green hair. It’s great that, for a living, I’m associated with full moons and wolves!”

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