By Diana Band
Joe Manganiello joined ‘True Blood’ during season 3, and what was only supposed to be a guest role turned into a gig spanning five seasons. He may not be a werewolf in real life, but he’s got a sixth sense for things and he claims he really does “run hot.” HBO.com tracked down everyone’s favorite werewolf to talk about his time on ‘True Blood’, plans for “the sock,” and idea for a Sookie/Alcide spin-off show.
When did you find that Alcide would be killed off?
I called it pretty early on. As soon as Sookie and Alcide got together, I remember turning to a friend and saying, “I’m dead.” You can’t go anywhere from that; she needs to settle up with Bill and Eric. You can’t have her break Alcide’s heart, because then the audience is going to be angry with her for breaking the nice guy’s heart. I told my friend, “I bet you everything I own that I’m dead.” The other side of it is, if you look at all the other characters, Alcide no longer has anything to do with the story. If you talk about characters that you could kill and make an impact with, I was probably No. 1 on that list. Why would you keep me around? All Alcide ever did was get in the way. I had dinner with [showrunner] Brian Buckner and he cited all the same reasons I just told you.
Even though you knew that once you got the girl you were dead, what was it like for that to finally come together? After all, Alcide’s been pining after Sookie for seasons…
It was good, but at the same time, it made no sense. She’s got these two psychotic ex-boyfriends who have either tried to kill her or have been involved in some plot to kill her. And there’s these roving packs of infected vampires, and it’s still like, “Let’s keep on living here. Let’s stay in this town.” What? [Laughs.] Alcide’s a contractor. They make pretty good money. Shouldn’t he be like, “Let’s take that money and move to Bermuda. Let’s not see Bill every day at the diner. Let’s leave!” [Laughs.]
When Alcide offers to drive them out of town in the second episode, and she refuses, all I could think was, “Oh, girl, no. Get out while you still can!”
Yeah! I would have been like, “Here, drink this drink.” And I would have roofied it and then stuck her on a plane and then we’d be gone. She would have woken up in some tropical place and never thought of crazy vampire town ever again. ‘Sookie and Alcide go to Bermuda’ -- that’s my spin-off show. [Laughs.]
What was your favorite season of ‘True Blood’?
Season 3. It was my first year, and I liked the idea of a biker outlaw pack of werewolves tearing through towns and that my character was the hero werewolf who stood up to them. I also enjoyed the mythology that was built into season 3, with Russell Edgington feeding the wolves vampire blood and having them under his control, and how Alcide, as the hero, worked to break that spell and free his own people. There’s a bit of Moses in that.
Is there anything that you won’t miss?
Shooting in Malibu in December is really difficult. People don’t understand how cold it gets up there. There were two nights in a row where the temperature was below 20 degrees. And we’re barefoot. And naked. And you have to lay on the ground sometimes. It’s not easy to pretend to be sexy when your bones are rattling. You always get sick every time you do that, too. I am not going to miss that at all.
Too bad you don’t “run hot” like a werewolf in real life, right?
I do! I am like a blast furnace -- you can ask anybody who’s ever curled up next to me. I am always a million degrees, but that can’t compete when it’s 20 degrees outside. I think my body has suffered permanent damage. I can’t fully warm up. I can’t do air conditioning ever again because of those nights. [Laughs.]
Have you taken anything from the set as a souvenir?
I was the kleptomaniac on set, so I took stuff all the way through. “Oh I’m in Fangtasia today? I’ll be taking home some of these Fangtasia matchbooks.” When I was in Lupine’s werewolf bar -- Lupine’s coasters? Awesome. There were vampire STD pamphlets in the hospital scene when Sookie was in a coma in season 3. Vampire sexually transmitted diseases? It was like, “Wow, these are so detailed. Kudos to the prop team -- these are coming home with me.” So I have all this stuff from over the years. This year I took my sock [used for nude scenes] home because I want to put it in a frame.
That’ll make a great conversation piece.
Yeah. I’m going to hang it over the guest bathroom toilet. You know, you go to use the toilet and there’s my sock in a frame with a little gold plaque underneath: “The Sock.”
Since ‘True Blood’ is all about “bad things,” can you tell us what yours is?
Favorite bad thing? [Silence.] Favorite bad thing that I would be comfortable saying in an interview...
Oh c’mon, it’s HBO. You can spice it up.
Yeah, I know, but it’s the internet so I have to live with it forever. Well, I’m a foodie, so my vices include food. I like fine dining, but I also like common food, and I’m a big fan of the fried chicken and waffles at Roscoe’s. I’ll go over there and meet up with my buddies and we’ll catch up and eat some fried chicken and waffles. I’m a big cigar guy, too, so we’ll have some cigars afterwards. I’d say those are my “bad things.”
If you could go to only one bar for the rest of your life, would you choose Merlotte’s or Fangtasia?
Me, Joe? As Joe, I’d go to Fangtasia.
Well, at Merlotte’s, you’d be what? Eating fried oysters with the Bon Temps crew? Fangtasia seems a lot more exciting. There’s vampires there! That’s just crazy. If it was real life, I’d want to be a vampire. Sign me up!
So if you could be any supe, you’d be a vampire?
Nah, I’d be a werewolf for sure. [Pause.] I mean, probably a werewolf? I guess? Eh…vampires versus werewolves is tricky. I’d have to sit down and think about it. The whole immortality thing is enticing, but I don’t know if it’s completely worth it. It seems like at some point you’re going to feel trapped. Although it would be amazing to have all that time to develop and learn everything about the world. It’d be hard to say no to. But I think I could do a lot with it. I really think I could figure out how to maximize it. I’ve got ideas. [Laughs.]
Could you see yourself playing another supernatural character in the future?
Yeah, I’ll think I’ll play a vampire before it’s all said and done.
What’s the craziest thing a fan has ever done or asked you?
Oh, I don’t know, because it’s like a daily occurrence. Somebody just sent me a painting that a fan did of me as a centaur. It’s my body on top of a horse, and there’s a rainbow in the background.
That actually sounds awesome. Weird, but awesome.
[Laughs.] Yeah, it is kind of awesome, but it’s crazy that there’s somebody at home making this stuff. But I’ve had a really good time with the fans. I’m a passionate guy, and I get really excited about the work and pumping people up. It makes the job so much easier when people are that wild about things.
I’ve traveled the world because of this show, and everywhere I go, there are different words for werewolf. I’m in France, on the Champs Elysees, and I hear, “Ah! Le loup-garou!” I’m in Barcelona at the Picasso museum and it’s “El hombre lobo! El hombre lobo!” Somebody once called me the Wolfman in Vietnamese, which for the life of me I couldn’t repeat. All around the world, I’m known as the Wolfman, the werewolf. It’s been a really fun ride.
What are you working on now? Where can your fans find you next?
I financed, directed and produced a feature film that hits theaters on June 27 -- ‘La Bare.’ That’s the first project for my production company, and we have a whole slate of projects for this year. I’m going to film a movie in July in New York City, and then there’s the ‘Magic Mike’ sequel in the fall. Plus, I got sent a couple scripts to star in that I love, so I hope that we can line those up for the winter. And my publisher wants another book since the last one in December did so well. Hopefully all those Truebies follow me to my next project!