The type of stranger approaching Joe Manganiello on the street has changed recently, from devotees of the CW’s One Tree Hill (an apparently fanatical and legion population), on which he played bartender Owen for two seasons, to rabid True Blood fans eager to get close to Manganiello’s latest character, the werewolf Alcide Herveaux. During a visit to New York, Manganiello found time to talk to us about the thrill of being cast on his favorite show, and his tips for playing a werewolf, which include ab work and connecting with your inner child.
MCKENNEY: Tell us a little about your audition process for True Blood.
MANGANIELLO: My first audition was for a different werewolf role–it was me, ten inches away from the casting director, growling in her face. It felt great. They called me back in and said they wanted me to read again, but this time for the part of Alcide. Since I was a fan of the series and had already read all the books, I knew this was a bigger role, and was totally overwhelmed when I got it.
MCKENNEY: Werewolf and vampire roles have gotten so ubiquitous that I’ve heard there are classes in L.A. that specialize only in this type of acting. How would you teach Werewolf Acting 101?
MANGANIELLO: I mean, I feel like I’ve been pretending I was a werewolf since I was a little kid. But it takes work. It’s about dialect work… I’m not going to lie–it’s about going to the gym. It’s a lot about letting it all go, remembering when you were a crazy primal kid running around and screaming. I wouldn’t tell anyone to study werewolves–I studied wolves, how they moved, their tendencies and sensibilities.
MCKENNEY: Originally, you were only meant to be in six episodes, but Alan Ball expanded your role for the fourth season.
MANGANIELLO: My character is in all the books, but there was no assurance that the show would follow that, so it was exhilarating to find out I was going to be a regular character.
MCKENNEY: I have to imagine you have been exposed to a new kind of fan. How was attending Comic Con?
MANGANIELLO: I mean One Tree Hill had some rabid fans–you’d be surprised–they’re almost in a class of their own. But the level of hysteria at Comic Con was intense–a very generous response. It was totally overwhelming; it’s definitely the closest I’ll ever come to knowing what it was like to be a Beatle. But I was obsessed with the show before I was on it, so I get it. I think it has to do with Alan’s writing. The storytelling and dialogue is really intelligent, and it draws you in, so you care so much about the characters.
MCKENNEY: Any interesting fan encounters recently?
MANGANIELLO: I’m currently in New York, and I was walking around Saks yesterday, and you know how you can kind of sense it when someone is staring at you? I got that feeling, and then looked up after ten minutes or so and all these ladies had come out from behind their counters and were sort of trailing behind me in a horde. I walked into another room and one lady screamed “WHERE’S THAT WEREWOLF AT?!” I waved at her and a bunch of ladies started hooting and hollering. It was great. It was fun.