Joe Manganiello Answers Fan Questions at Eyecon 2010

February 23, 2011 by  

Joe Manganiello, True Blood Alcide, at Eyecon 2010

While at Eyecon 2010, Joe Manganiello had a fan Q&A in which he discussed several topics, including his interest in True Blood, the process it took for him to become Alcide, and much, much more. Check out what went on in the Q&A below.

Joe Manganiello: Good morning. Do we have any questions? Guest Pictures? All right, then I guess I’ll talk a little bit. I was a huge, huge fan of True Blood. When the show came on the air, I watched it when it premiered. I had no idea it was based on this series of books. I got an email from one of my best friends, who said “You’ve gotta check this out!” I checked this little web link and it took me to a blog site and fans of Charlaine Harris’ books were blogging about their fantasy casts and who should play all of the characters when they show up in certain seasons and there were a bunch of fans who were posting pictures of me and saying I should play this werewolf when he shows up. I went wait a minute, there are werewolves in this story? I loved the werewolves in the old Lon Chaney Jr. horror movies since I was a kid. So I went to Amazon and ordered the books and started reading them. Sure enough, I read the description of the character where Sookie opens the door and looks up and has to look up again and there’s this giant, dark haired guy with long, untameable black hair and said if he’d shaved in the morning, he’d have to shave again. I thought, okay, I can do that. Then it said that Charlaine described him as having biceps the size of boulders that Sookie could do pull-ups on. I thought, “Oh great, thanks Charlaine.” So I started bugging my agency managers saying, “There’s this part of a werewolf coming up, you gotta get me in, you gotta get me in” and this is very Season One.

Two years later, I get this phone call from this guy that I’d met pretty randomly and he said he was best friends of the casting director and they were out at breakfast and he’d seen the blogs posted online that were posted of me. And the casting director said wow, that waiter would make a great werewolf, if only he was an actor.

This guy said, “No, you know who would make a great werewolf? This guy,” and he showed her a picture of me. And it was because of that that she agreed to see me for the part of Cooter. So I went in for the part of Cooter and my audition scene was the one in the back seat of the car where they’re all drinking blood and spitting blood into each others mouths and sucking blood off of Bill. I was literally about 12 inches in front of the casting director’s face snarling, growling and frothing at the mouth. You know this casting director was about 4’8”, this casting woman and she was sitting Indian style on her chair and she has this really Long Island accent and I’m snarling and growling and she says “Oh my gaawd, he’s an animal.” Alan Ball was in the room with Gregg Fienberg, who’s one of the other executive producers and a whole bunch of the other producers. There were about 12 people in the room. I had probably the best audition of my life and I left there feeling great. They called me back a couple of days later and said we want you to come back in again so I went in the second time for Cooter. I went in, had another great audition. They called me back a couple days later and said you’re not going to get that part—for a second I was kind of bummed out—but we want to you come back in and chemistry read with Anna Paquin for this other part, Alcide. That was the part I won. The one the fans are blogging about. So this was in December and they wanted me to come back in January and chemistry read with Anna. Actually, I’d gotten another offer for a project, so I called HBO and said I have this other offer, they want me to do it. What do I do? They called us back later that day and said come in in two days, here’s the Alcide audition, script and we’ll bypass the chemistry read because Anna’s not available so I went in two days later and read Alcide and they called me back two hours later and I got it.

Question: We were curious, what are you looking forward to most for Season 4?

Joe: What am I looking forward to most in Season 4? Well, obviously I think everyone’s curious to see what happens to Alcide and Sookie. But I’m interested in seeing what happens with the pack. You know what we’ve seen in Mexico where you knock off a drug lord and everyone goes crazy, you know the fact that Cooter got shot in the face. I’m kind of curious to see what happens with the pack and all the jockeying and then you know Colonel Flood is really ineffective.

Question: I don’t think Alcide’s relationship with his pack has been explored enough.

Joe: You know, hopefully Alan Ball thinks the same thing. So I’m curious to see what happens with the pack and obviously Debbie is still at large. You know like I said I was a huge fan of the show  before I got on it so I’m curious to see what happens to see with everyone else.

Question: What was the project that you turned down?

Joe: Actually, I had the option of doing another season of One Tree Hill. They wanted Owen back for one more season. I was in the middle of the True Blood deal and that process so Owen didn’t come back and Alcide was born.

You’ve done characters where you were happy and fun loving, and now you play a character who’s kind of depressed. What do you like better happy go lucky or depressed and tormented?

Joe: So the question is, what do I like better? Happy go lucky or depressed and tormented? You know I guess it depends on my mood I think. There was a time I shot this Navy Seal movie in Puerto Rico and it was just me and a bunch of dudes bench pressing, knife fighting and gun shooting for six weeks and no girls. When I was done with that one, I was ready to go do some One Tree Hill. I like working in comedy a lot and working with How I Met Your Mother. I love it, there’s nothing like it getting together with Jason Segal and Neil Patrick Harris and trying to crack each other up and laugh all day. But then you get done with that and you’re ready to go growl and run around and fight some people in bars.

Question: So everybody blogged to get you the part of Alcide. Now everyone’s blogging to get you the part of Superman.

Joe: I love my fans! I met with Warner Brothers. We’re talking about it. There’s a lot of factors obviously, but we’re talking about it. Thank you. What else do I want? Can we start blogging about a billion dollars, a private jet, my own island? I’d also like to be James Bond, if they let an American play Bond.

Question: If there’s one director you want to work with, who would that be?

Joe: That is so tough, I love Zack Snyder, I love Christopher Nolan, David Fincher, Scorscese…

Question: First, I wanted to ask what made you want to be an actor? Secondly, I want to thank you from the Fort Carson Army  Base, Army wives support group. Thank you, thank you for wholesome family entertainment. I also shared this comment with Sam Trammell because we appreciate that good wholesome family entertainment, especially while our husbands are deployed. I want to thank you very much for keeping us happy.

Joe: Thank you and thank you to your husbands for keeping us safe. I got to work really closely with Navy Seals a couple a years ago when I shot that movie and my cousin is also a Lt. Colonel with the 82nd Airborne in Fort Brag.

What made me want to become an actor? I was an athlete; I played football, basketball and volleyball. And it looked like I was going go on to college in either one of them. My father wanted me to be an athlete and I was certainly big enough but I always had an artistic side. A lot of the guys around me in high school were starting to do steroids and getting pretty big but we had a TV studio in high school and I took TV class and I would write, produce and act in movies with my friends and I would write parts for my friends. We made this giant, full length, feature mafia martial arts action movie in high school. We had squibs, we had gun shot effects, we’d fill condoms with fake blood and then put fire crackers underneath light them up on our knee caps and hearts, we were crazy. It was my first love. I’d wake up at 6am to go film it and I just loved it. I was returning a kick off against Joe Montana’s old high school and I was in the mud and I got hit in the knee and tore my MCL and had to sit out and rehab that knee. I had to think about what I really wanted to do. I didn’t play football again, that was my last game. I started taking acting classes and wound up getting a scholarship to Carnegie Melon University to study classical theatre. I went to study Shakespeare, ancient Greek, Checkoff and I got done with my four years. The week I got out of college I wound up getting an agent, getting a manager, I turned down a TV holding deal because I was gonna do film only and wound up screen testing for Spiderman, for Sam Raimi and got the part. From there, that was it. All of the high school coaches were telling me I was making a mistake, what was I doing? I was turning down colleges but somewhere in my gut I just knew. I get to go have my 15 year high school reunion over Thanksgiving and I get to go see everyone for the first time since, so that should be pretty fun.

Question: First off, I want to second her comment. My husband and I are in active duty and you definitely have kept us both occupied the last few months. The whole ship is now a huge fan of True Blood; all of the guys are hooked. My question is: what was it like working with the wolves?

Joe: What was it like working with the wolves? Nothing can prepare you for how big they are, some of them are over 150 lbs, which is huge. Their shoulders are pretty high off the ground, they look like lions.  They have these bright yellow eyes and the trainers take them out and walk them on thick chains; it’s really intimidating. But with that said, the wolves are trained from about six months old and they’re really a lot better at hitting their marks than a lot of actors I work with. They’ll stick a little rock out and say “go to your mark” and they’ll walk around in circles and go and sit right on the mark, they’re really smart.  They kind of give you the idiot’s guide to working with wolves when you get there. Don’t eat meat around them, don’t have food in your pockets, don’t make sudden moves and you’ll be ok. There was a scene in one episode where Debbie kicks down the door, when she’s going to fight Sookie. She kicks in the door and she has these two wolves behind her and one got excited when she kicked the door and jumped up to playfully nip her.  The trainer said ok, we’re done for the day and they took the wolves out. The trainers are on hand and really good and responsible. It was a little scary but you get used to them.

Question: I just wondered when you were watching the show, were you Team Eric or Team Bill and why?

Joe: I’m Team Alcide. I’m a fur-banger. I’m Team Sookie, if you really want to break it down.

Question: I was wondering who you have the most chemistry with off-screen?

Joe: I hang out Stephen [Moyer] a lot, he’s become a good friend of mine. Denis O’Hare, who plays King Russell is hilarious. He owns a building of apartments in New York so I stayed there when I was in New York. He’s become a really good friend. Anna [Paquin] and Stephen went to Disneyland and I jokingly said I based Alcide loosely on Eyore; he lives in a cave, he’s grumpy and doesn’t want to go out. So Anna brought me back this stuffed Eyore from Disneyland and it sits on my bed.

Question: I want to know that after you read the books. Did you feel that the TV show was giving the books justice?

Joe: Yes, and I’ve had lots of talks about it with Charlaine as well. Charlaine is actually working on the eleventh book right now. I think we both agreed that fans of the books can have a completely different experience watching the show and the show is different enough that it can surprise readers of the books to see what’s going to happen next. You know Alcide is similar to the character in the books but there are certain differences obviously, he kind of smells a little more of money in the books and is kind of “lumber-jacky” on the show. And of course, as the story goes on it will get further and further away from it. I always say Alan is kind of like dad and Charlaine is kind of like mom. It’s her creativity that birthed the whole thing and Alan kind of keeps it in line.

Question: Is there going to be any interaction where you’re side by side with Alexander. I heard you have about a half an inch over him.

Joe: I’m about half an inch taller than Alex. I heard when I auditioned for the part, not only was Alcide huge in the books but they were looking for someone his size that could square off against him. I haven’t heard that yet but am curious to see.

Question: We saw you in Coconut Creek and it was a pleasure to meet you. You’ve mentioned doing films on your own and such with friends. Do you see yourself directing in the future?

Joe: Yes, there’s actually a documentary that I’m getting off the ground as we speak. I really got into acting through the back door—writing and producing—so definitely and there are a couple of projects that I’m trying to set up around town. Right now, they’re more like actor/producer projects. But down the line, yes. My dad always thought I would wind up as a producer because I’m so bossy.

Question: Would you cast wolves in the film?

Joe: Could be, if we found the right story. But I’ve got my hands full with all the werewolves on True Blood right now. I’ve got enough were wolfing for the next six years at least.

Question: I know there’s a lot of alpha male syndrome between Bill, Alcide, and Eric during the show. Does that translate off screen when you’re off set?

Joe: No, there’s enough room for us all. Everyone is so cool and so welcoming and I did kind of fear that because I have worked on other projects where there was a set alpha male star of the project and didn’t take kindly to other big guys coming around, there was a little Napoleon complex going on. I won’t name names but I’ve definitely come in contact with some of that. But I have to say that True Blood was 100% nice and welcomed me in. I was only signed for six episodes and I didn’t have any idea how long I was going to be around. But everyone treated me like I was a regular, like I belonged there. I think that’s what makes the show so good.

The actors that I truly love and respect the most, I find that in their personal lives, they’re not dramatic. They’re not the tabloid fodder, they’re not getting in trouble every weekend and clubbing. They’re really normal, good family people. That’s really indicative of the cast. They’re really normal in their real lives and really crazy when you turn the camera on. I think that’s makes a really nice combination.

Question: Other than the role of Alcide, what is the ultimate dream role that you would like to play?

Joe: I want to play a super hero, definitely. You know I’d like to do a football movie for my dad, because he didn’t get the football player. So there’s something in me that wants to do something like that for him. Other than that, running up a wall in slow motion, killing aliens, beheading zombies but I also love romantic comedies, I like How I Met Your Mother. Something like that would be great.

Question: In the books, Alcide becomes the Pack Master. Would you like to do that on the show?

Joe: Yes, I’d love to. There’s also cage-fighting matches in the books, that would be a blast.

Question: Hi Joe, first I want to welcome you to Orlando and congratulate you on your engagement. I wish you many, many years of happiness together. I know you’re a big comic book fan. What comic is your favorite of all time and what type do you like to read or watch?

Joe: I like X-Men, which is interesting because I work with Rogue everyday. I was a big fan of The Punisher, you know this big kick-ass Italian guy. I was a big fan of the old black and white Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Casey Jones especially. I was so nervous last weekend to watch, but so unbelievably stoked with The Walking Dead. I’ve been jonesing all week for another episode. Those are a few.

Question: I used to take care of Wayne Crevet of The Giants; they’re really good friends of mine from New Jersey. If you stood in for someone, what team would you want to play for?

Joe: Pittsburg Steelers. I’m a die-hard, bleed black and gold fan and we play you guys on the 19th and I’m going to be there, I’m going to be home.

Question: I was just wondering if you come from a big family and if you’re Italian? Your name sounds very Italian.

Joe: I come from a small family.  It’s just me and my brother, he’s bigger than I am at 6’7” so it’s a little family and my parents were both born in Boston. My father is Sicilian. I was recently in Italy and everyone there pronounced my name right, so that was very nice. And my mother’s side of the family is Austrian, German and Armenian, so it’s a very long story. That’s where I come from.

Question: Thank you for looking over here on the blind side. I would like to thank you for getting me through all my surgeries. My husband probably thanks you too. I just couldn’t remember if you’ve got a six pack or a twelve pack.

Joe: I’m not The Situation. He’s starts doing Shakespeare; I’ll start taking my shirt off. It’s probably like an 8.

Question: I was just wondering, I don’t want you to go anywhere from True Blood, but I wondered if you knew why they wanted Owen back on One Tree Hill?

Joe: Why? Hopefully they liked what I was doing acting wise. I don’t know but I will say that Mark Schwann, the creator, who’s become a great friend of mine over the years, he wanted to bring me back for one more farewell episode, where Millie goes to Alcoholics Anonymous and winds up meeting Owen there after his big crazy drinking, pill taking bout. It’s very dramatic. So I think that one episode had to do with an abbreviated version of a longer plot, but I’m not sure.

Joe really made the fans happy during his appearance at Eyecon. He was charming and funny and VERY wolfish.. I mean, look at that grin! He was also very nice to talk to anyone who wanted to spend a minute or two with him at the Vampire’s Ball. Can’t wait for next season to see what happens with the best werewolf on TV!

(Photo Credit: K S Rose)

Transcription Credit: Tammy Harris