PLAYBILL.COM'S BRIEF ENCOUNTER With Joe Manganiello; "True Blood" Star Talks Sobriety, Streetcar and Life After Alcide

By Tori Scott
13 Sep 2013

Joe Manganiello
Joe Manganiello

Joe Manganiello, who plays Alcide Herveaux on HBO's "True Blood," makes his return to the stage as Stanley Kowalski in Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire, which begins previews Sept. 20 at the Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven, CT.

Manganiello was first introduced to "True Blood" fans during season three of the hit series. Since then, he has quickly become a fan favorite, captivating viewers as the pack master werewolf with his frequently shirtless scenes. At 6'5", Manganiello's impressive physique has played a huge role in his success. He starred as Big Dick Richie in the 2012 film "Magic Mike" and, most recently, wrote a book sharing his passion for fitness – "Evolution: The Cutting Edge Guide to Breaking Down Mental Walls and Building the Body You've Always Wanted" (out Dec. 3). But, the trained actor, with a BFA from Carnegie Mellon, is eager to return to his other passion, theatre.

Manganiello visited and spoke with Tori Scott about his excitement around returning to the stage, his strong connection to the role of Stanley, and life after "True Blood."

"True Blood" has been such an incredible success for you. Now that it has been announced that the show is ending next season, are you eager and ready to move on to other projects or will this ending be bittersweet?
Joe Manganiello: It's mixed. I just have so much love in my heart for the character that I get to play. I am forever grateful to the show for the opportunities it opened up. It changed my life and gave me the opportunity to write a book, start a company and direct a documentary. And to be able to do Streetcar. I haven't been able to be a part of the New York theatre scene or get out there and do a play. I hadn't been able to do a play in four years. To be able to have the freedom to make the choice to be able to do the types of things that I want to do, I owe that all to the show. It's going to be sad saying goodbye to those people, but with that said, there is an incredible amount of excitement for me because the show giveth and it also tooketh away. [Laughs.] It opened all these doors for me that I hadn't been able to walk through.

That's a very lucky place to be as an actor.
JM: Oh yeah, it's amazing. But you kind of get to critical mass at some point and you go, "I really, really wanna get out there." I was just itching to get back on stage, and there are all of these characters I'm itching to play. So, whether or not the fairy winds up with the werewolf in the end, I'm sure everyone has strong opinions on what they want to happen, but I don't know what I have to look forward to as far as storyline goes with "True Blood" this year. I don't know what part I'm going to play in the end game, but I'm incredibly excited about getting out and especially being in New York and doing a play and thinking, "I could be back here doing Broadway," possibly as early as a year from now.

Manganiello in rehearsal for Streetcar.
photo by Joan Marcus

Do you sing? You know they're doing Magic Mike the Musical!
JM: [Laughs.] I'm going to hold out, and I'm not going to give an answer until I know what his musical number is. I want to know what his song is.

You want a big 11 o'clock number?
JM: Yeah, something with dancing penis pumps. I mean you could really do some fun things. Oh, and firemen!

Tell me about playing Stanley in Streetcar Named Desire. This is a role you played before about five years ago, correct?
JM: Yeah, I did it five years ago, but I actually did it 10 or 11 years before that in college.

Since this is a role you've visited three times in your life, what keeps bringing you back to him?
JM: We just keep finding each other. These opportunities come up. In college, the senior directors project was to direct scenes from Streetcar, and I think it was all but two of the directors picked me to be their Stanley. So, I wound up doing almost the whole play for all these different, various directors. So, that found me. Then there was another director who wanted to direct the whole play and so I prepped for that, then didn't wind up doing it. Nine years later, a director from CMU called me up and said, "I'm going to do this in West Virginia, can you come do it." I said, "Great." Played him in West Virginia. Then, five years later, my manager calls me and says, "Hey, they're doing it at Yale." But it is, obviously, very different from when I first played him 16 years ago. It's a very different perspective. But this time around, even from five years ago, the perspective is very different.


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