Meet Joe Manganiello, the new werewolf in town on “True Blood.”Here’s how the former star athlete built his monster physique and fulfilled a childhood dream.
Before the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama acting gods and Hollywood producer-writer-
director Alan Ball came calling, “True Blood” star Joe Manganiello aspired to be a naturally lean and ripped athlete. Little did the 6’5” varsity basketball, football and volleyball letterman know as a steroid-snubbing teen that his acting dream job would be the motivation for him to develop the cut, carnivorous body he always wanted.
As the HBO vampire-centric hit’s resident werewolf Alcide Herveaux — the benevolent half-man, half-monster assigned to protect star Anna Paquin’s Sookie Stackhouse — Manganiello channels his athletic past to unleash his inner animal. He achieves this through a beast of a cardio- and protein-intensive regimen he calls the “Werewolf Workout.” The six-day-a-week, twice-a-day fitness routine is the brainchild of celebrity trainer Ron Matthews, who sculpted Hugh Jackman’s physique for the “X-Men” star’s role as Wolverine.
The Pittsburgh-born Manganiello, 33, combines a natural athleticism with a classically trained theatrical background that’s propelled the towering actor into everything from zany TV sitcom roles (“How I Met Your Mother,” “’Til Death”) to physically demanding, action-oriented films (“Spider-Man,” “Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia”) that occasionally see him doing his own risky stunts. And in between juggling guest spots on “Medium,” “ER” and all three “CSI” incarnations, the versatile performer even learned slamball — and earned a pulled back muscle — on the CW drama “One Tree Hill.”
For Manganiello, who credits his family’s Pittsburgh blue-collar background for his work ethic, it’s all part of the job. And as HBO’s new beefcake werewolf, the actor exercises another tried-and-“True Blood” maxim: You are what — or as remains to be seen with Alcide — whom you eat.
Muscle & Body: You’ve said you prayed as a kid to become a werewolf. Is Michael J. Fox to blame?
Joe Manganiello: [Laughs] Partially. I was a huge fan of “Teen Wolf.” But I was really more of a fan as a little kid of the black-and-white monster movies — the Bella Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr. stuff. Halloween was always my favorite holiday. I had monster figures. I drew monsters all the time. I read all of the Stephen King books to the point that my father started taking the books from me. I attended a Catholic elementary school. I went to church every morning at 6 a.m. praying that God would turn me into a werewolf. I’d heard as a little kid that if you pray hard enough and your faith is pure, God will answer you. But after a few weeks of praying with all of my heart, it wasn’t happening. So I started thinking there wasn’t a God, it’s all a big gyp.
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