After the Vampire Authority being wiped out, TruBlood no longer existing, the mysterious and ancient Warlow showing up in town to claim Sookie (Anna Paquin), and sick and hungry vampires on the loose, there’s no telling what’s going to go down in the Season 6 finale of HBO’s True Blood on August 18th.
During this recent exclusive phone interview with Collider, actor Joe Manganiello (who plays werewolf pack master Alcide Herveaux) talked about how crazy the finale is, how the pluses of being pack master definitely don’t outweigh the minuses, just how much things will heat up for the werewolves, what a smooth transition it’s been for Brian Buckner to take over as showrunner, and how comfortable he is, at this point, with stripping down on camera. He also talked about how he’d love to reunite with his Magic Mike co-stars for a sequel, that they started talking about doing another film while they were still shooting the first, his Magic Mike-related documentary, what made now the right time to do a health and fitness book (Joe Manganiello’s Evolution: The Cutting Edge Guide to Breaking Down Mental Walls and Building the Body You’ve Always Wanted, out on December 3rd), and taking on the role of Stanley Kowalski in the Yale Repertory Theatre production of A Streetcar Named Desire (from September 20th through October 12th in New Haven, Connecticut). Check out what he had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers.
JOE MANGANIELLO: The finale is pretty crazy. Reading it, my brain switched into seeing it the way that a fan would see what we’re doing. I was very shocked. I know this was something the writers that have remained with the show in Alan Ball’s wake have been wanting to do for a long time. It’s pretty exciting.
When you think back to where Alcide started, how different are things now, with the journey that he’s gone through? Does it feel anything like you thought it would be, or does it feel completely different from what you expected?
MANGANIELLO: As far as where the character has gone, this is where I thought he was gonna go. I thought he was gonna go there sooner, but this is what I expected, after the conversations I had with (author) Charlaine Harris. This is a more detailed version of where she thought the character should go, and I certainly had those conversations with Alan Ball, before he left, about Alcide going there.
How does Alcide feel about where things are at now?
MANGANIELLO: Unfortunately, I think they’re exactly what he expected. I think there’s a reason why he never took an active role in a pack. He’d been a pack member before, but there was a reason why he left that life. I think this is what he was afraid was gonna happen and, sure enough, it is happening. After killing three successive pack masters, he finally decided, “Okay, I’m gonna do something different and take it over, rather than walk away from it.” But yeah, it’s a complete mess. Werewolves are, for the most part, pretty terrible people. There’s a reason why he continuously chooses non-werewolf people over his own kind.
At this point, is Alcide feeling like the pluses of being pack master don’t really outweigh all of the minuses?
MANGANIELLO: Yeah! I think most werewolf women that he has run into have been pretty manipulative and deceitful. As far as perks go, the sexual perks come with a price. They’re very self-seeking. It’s not like they’re for free or for fun. And at the snap of a finger, that same person is going to turn on him. Rikki (Kelly Overton) completely turned on him, on a dime. It sucks. What’s good about being pack master, other than the three-ways?!
MANGANIELLO: I’ve come expect it, for sure. Season 2 went to Dallas. Season 3 involved Jackson and the Mississippi crew. Season 4 involved the Shreveport witches. The show just kept getting bigger and bigger. Now, there’s been a concerted effort, since about half-way through this season, to make it smaller, and make it about the inhabitants of Bon Temps versus the rest of the world. That’s something that was exciting for all of us to see, in the scripts, and it’s great for the audience. It has that small-town feel that it had in the first season, which is something we wanted to get back to.
With such a big ensemble on this show, are there any actors you haven’t gotten to work with yet, that you’d like to have a storyline or scenes with?
MANGANIELLO: I think I’ve worked with almost everybody. I think Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) would be the only character I could think of, that I haven’t worked with. I’ve worked with Chris Bauer, Ryan Kwanten, Carrie Preston, Nelsan Ellis, Rutina Wesley, and the rest of the vampires. Mike McMillian and I went to Carnegie Mellon, at the same time. I’d love to see Alcide and Steve Newlin, but I know how it would go. He hates vampires so much, it probably wouldn’t be friendly, but it would be funny. I love Mike. It would be fun to get to hang out with Mike.
MANGANIELLO: You had this little girl who’s a werewolf, and both of her parents are dead – one at the hands of Alcide and the other because of the Vampire Authority shift that Luna did. Now, she would have gone with her next of kin, which would be her grandma, but there were no police and you couldn’t have a custody battle. The authorities couldn’t be alerted because werewolves live in secrecy. So, Alcide is doing something like what the mafia would do, which is to serve as the police for people who can’t go to the police. He brought the girl back to her grandma. From there, Alcide is going to carry out the law for people who cannot go to the law. Alcide wants all the wolves in that compound, under one roof, and that’s related to all of the vampire craziness that’s gone on. I think it has trickled down. There’s a level of paranoia, and he’s acting accordingly. There are new rules for werewolf society, right now.
Were there any feelings of nervousness, at all, about changing showrunners this season, or is the show just such a well-oiled machine that it was a smooth transition?
MANGANIELLO: Well, the thing about it is that Brian Buckner, who has taken over as showrunner, was brought in during Season 1 to take over. Alan Ball was only going to run the show for one season, and then take off and go back to film. But, this show was such a success and he was having so much fun that he stuck around. And Buckner stuck around, as well. Instead of him taking over after one season, he took over after five, but we’re in good hands. He was the one who was going to take over, four years ago, so I don’t think there was really a question about that. There was an excitement this season because he and some of the other writers had a lot of ideas that they had been waiting to implement. Alan stepping down and him stepping up gave them the opportunity to really try out some fun stuff. There was a real level of excitement.
Whether it’s True Blood or Magic Mike, if you have to strip down on camera, does it at least help that you’re not the only one who has to do it?
MANGANIELLO: At this point, I don’t care. It really doesn’t bother me. Once you’re the semi-naked guy in a room full of 200 women who aren’t, nothing phases you after that. You’re completely fine with it.
MANGANIELLO: When we started filming, yes. When I first read the script, no. But once we started filming, and all the guys got together and we started seeing each other’s routines, we had a strong feeling that we were doing something pretty special. Magic was happening. We thought, “Something is going to happen with this.” And sure enough, there were studios that came every single day, the week that we were all doing those dance routines, and there was a bidding war that started over the movie. And when Warner Bros. stepped up and bought it, and planned to release it as their 4th of July movie, we had a pretty good idea.
That’s when we started talking about doing a sequel. So, it doesn’t surprise me, at all.
We thought it was going to do well in the theater, but none of us expected it to have the opening weekend it did. It far exceeded anything, any of us could have imagined. Would I like to do a sequel? I’ve never laughed so hard, in my life, when I was working on that movie. It was about as much fun as I’ve ever had at work. I love those guys. Matt Bomer is like my brother. Channing [Tatum] and Kevin Nash and Adam [Rodriguez] – I love those guys. To get to go hand out with those guys again would be amazing. But, I’ve gotta see a script first and a director. There’s a lot to be figured out between now and then, but it sounds like they’re trying to figure it out. I would love to work with those guys again.
MANGANIELLO: I was approached to do the book. It was an incoming call. It wasn’t something that I had sought out. I had certainly thought about it because there’s been such an overwhelming interest, over the years, in what my work-out is. My trainer gets bombarded with questions and requests, and it just seems like everyone is really, really interested in what I do when I work out. It was something I had definitely thought about and talked to my trainer about, but it was not something that I had pursued. So, I got an incoming call to do it, and the examples that I was given, as far as work-out books go, I went and started researching them. They were basically these glossy PR tools, where the inside material was obviously outsourced to someone else, so that the celebrity could sit back, slap on some shirtless pictures and sell it.
I wasn’t interested in doing anything like that. I wasn’t interested in putting my name on something like that. That really contributes to a fitness industry that is based in fear, and it’s all about scaring people into buying some miracle diet or some miracle work-out with some ridiculous timeframe on it. That’s basically just designed to sell people a bunch of crap that they don’t need, and I didn’t want to do that. I told the publishers, “Give me two weeks, and let me put together an outline of what I want to say in the book and what I want to write, and I’ll come back to you and you can tell me, if you want to make that book.”
So, I went back to them in about two weeks and they actually doubled my advance, so that I could make sure that I did it the right way. I got the right photographer. I got my trainer on board to design the work-out. I consulted with the best fitness mind and fitness writer on the planet. Rather than write this glossy PR thing that’s designed to sell pictures, I made the book that is meant to stand on the shoulders of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding. In fact, Arnold is endorsing it to the point that he wrote the forward, which is cool. We’re rewriting and revisiting the rules of fitness. It’s where we are today. It’s the cutting edge guide for everything you need. I’m actually really, really proud of it because it’s something that needs to be in the marketplace. We’re looking to change the game with it.
What was it like, then, to work on Sabotage with an action legend like Arnold Schwarzenegger?
MANGANIELLO: It was amazing! I grew up watching that guy. I’ve seen everything he was in. I was obsessed with Arnold. Sometimes you meet celebrities and they don’t live up to your expectation, but Arnold lives up to all of the hype, and more. He’s probably the most funny, charming, charismatic guy on the planet. It was a bit surreal, getting to hang out with him and spend time with him, the way that I did. He’s one of the biggest icons of our generation, and probably all time. The guy is amazing.
Is it really cool to be at a point, in your career, where you can then switch gears and do the Yale Repertory Theatre production of A Streetcar Named Desire?
MANGANIELLO: Yeah. I haven’t been able to do a play in four years, so be able to get out and do that is really exciting. Sometimes it takes 20-odd days to do a True Blood episode, and out of those 20-odd days, I maybe work two or three. This year, I’ve been more of an entrepreneur with the book, and I’m directing a documentary, and I’m starting a company with my brother and optioning projects. And then, I’m training. I’ve been doing everything, but acting. I haven’t forgotten, but I think there’s probably a lot of people out there that have forgotten that I’m actually an actor. There are people that don’t even know that I came from theater, first. Those muscles need to be worked out. I need to get up there and let that out. It’s more raw. There’s an electricity to stage performing. And the fact is that I’ll get to act every day. With True Blood, I’m acting sporadically, and then being a businessman every day, in between, or a bodybuilder, in between, or a writer, in between. While all that stuff is great and sets up the future, it’s nice to get back to what I actually do. Honestly, what a lot of people think I do best is stage acting. It’s a talent and ability that’s completely gone unused.
MANGANIELLO: It’s Magic Mike related. All the people that are waiting for Magic Mike 2, this will tide them over. That’s all I’m gonna say.
Have you given any thought about the direction you want to take your career in, once True Blood is finished?
MANGANIELLO: Oh, of course! There are a few different components to that, as evidenced by this past year. My brother has been a producer for the past eight years. He’s worked in music, television and film, so he runs the day-to-day of our company. We have a slate of original material that we own, that’s being developed right now. We’re getting that stuff ready for once the show is over. So, there will be a huge component of producing and acting that goes along with that.
I want to continue to work with good directors. That’s really my only thing. I was fortunate enough to work with Sam Raimi, and then Alan Ball, and then David Ayer. There are certainly some other directors, who I’ve met with over the years, that I didn’t get to work with because of my schedule on True Blood. While that’s frustrating, to an extent, it’s also exciting because I’ve gotten recognition by those people, for my work on the show. I’m looking forward to working with all those directors and being able to work on all those projects that I haven’t had time to do. And at some point, I’d like to get to Broadway and do a Broadway show. I’ve been talking for years about doing that, but that doesn’t work with my True Blood schedule either.
The Season 6 finale of True Blood airs on HBO on Sunday, August 18th.