The True Blood phenomenon
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Joe Manganiello is an ambitious man.
Joe Manganiello heads a bloody massacre of the TV ratings.
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a town now known for being "America's Most Livable City," Joe busted his hump at Mount Lebanon High School to graduate with honors in 1995. While there he was also captain of his football, basketball and volleyball teams, playing them all at varsity level. After tearing his MCL in a football game against Ringgold High School, his future as an athlete abruptly ended. Instead of curling up at the bar, Joe decided to try pursuing his filmmaking hobby and auditioned for prestigious Carnegie Mellon University. He did not get in. This rejection could have put anyone off acting for life, but instead Joe re-applied to the University the following year and was, luckily for us, one of the seventeen applicants accepted.
Enter Captain Morgan. Joe had a few interesting odd jobs while he was exploring the boards. One of them was dressing up as rum pirate Captain Morgan and appearing in local Pittsburg bars. I'm sure he had no problem getting a few damsels in distress to "step into the black," but dressing in pirate gear when you dream of being an actor can have some limitations. It's all fun and games until you realize just how small a role you are playing in the world, and Joe Manganiello is an ambitious man.
His first film was a student film called "Out of Courage 2: Out for Vengeance," which, in classic auteur fashion, he played actor, stunt man, executive producer and writer. The film's tagline states: "Two Armies. One Man. No Room for Hesitation." Now, is it me, or does that sound really'. Funny?
Here is the plot summary, written by "Anonymous," (Hi Joe?) as found on IMDBPro:
A psychotic Russian terrorist bent on restoring communism to his motherland, sides with a vengeful Irish weapons dealer in the hope of stealing the blueprints for a nuclear satellite from an unsuspecting American University. The future of the free world lies in the hands of a lowly campus fast food restaurant worker.
As I laugh my ass off, I must admit ' I smell a re-make.
I love to peek back at what now famous actors played when they got started. It's a great example of the effort most of them have to make before they get (if they get) their "big break." Check this out. In 2002, Joe played a character called, "Black Dildo" in a film titled, "The Ketchup King." How is it we haven't heard about this film? Clearly the Hollywood powers that be do not realize how many of us would appreciate such tongue-in-cheek fare. Well, either that or it really sucked, but either way, he played "Black Dildo!" How can you not love that? Was it possible his willingness to play this part opened his future up to bigger and better roles or is that just a bunch of Hollywood horseshit?
Fortunately for Joe, his first real big break was just around the corner, in the small and forgettable but nevertheless important part of Peter Parkers high-school bully: Flash Thompson in Spider-man. Let me tell you what sometimes happens when you book a big role like this. Your agents don't want you to do TV, commercials or theater ' basically anything that might pay your rent ' so all you audition for is film, which is a really small and tough medium to break into. Trust me, it is very hard to make a living when you don't book a job, which Joe did not, from 2003 to 2005. Many actors, Joe included, end up working in construction in order to make ends meet, only to wind up superstars, like Harrison Ford. It seems fate had a similar idea in mind for Joe, because after 2006, it seems the man could not stop getting work. What happened we may never know, but something switched on the light inside of him. Roles on ER, One Tree Hill, How I Met Your Mother, CSI, American Heiress, White Collar and even Two and a Half Men, kept Joe in the drivers seat, literally, hauling himself all over Los Angeles for auditions, work, and more work. All solid projects and good roles, and a life that any actor could happily learn to live with, but nothing like the part that was to change everything for Joe Manganiello in 2010.
That part, as you know, was as southern gentleman and werewolf Alcide Herveaux. Friends of mine who are rabid True Blood fans have told me flat out, "He is the only sympathetic love interest on the show." Those Vampires may have a run for their money: In 2011 Entertainment Weekly voted him "Favorite Pop-Culture Werewolf of All Time," plus he brought home two Scream Awards (one for Breakout Performance ' Male, and one for Best Ensemble), and a Saturn Award for Best Guest Starring Role in Television. Alcide's tree trunk arms, built up by Joe through five months of hard training, juxtapose a soft southern accent quite deliciously. Interestingly enough, Manganiello is quoted as saying that "getting the accent right was harder than the workouts."
I admire an actor that's willing to push for perfection in a role. It exposes a deep respect for the process of acting, one that John Q. Public tends to miss while drooling over big arms and chiseled features. Personally, I like a smart, moral man better than a slick, handsome one, but when you put the two together it's a bombshell combination, impossible to resist. Slap my head and call me stupid, but Joe's personal character seems mighty pleasant, and God bless him, he's willing to work his ass off. In my book, that makes him deserving of all the good to come.
I am happy to say the future is looking just swell for this hard working and classy "man's man." He stars in not one but two films out this summer, "Magic Mike" and "What to Expect When You're Expecting." The first seems set to be a breakout hit with certain audiences, what with all the raw objectification of male bodies on display. It's not only the women who are enjoying two solid hours of pleasurable screaming.
"True Blood" is also rife with nudity and sexual situations for both the male and female members of the cast. His werewolf character in particular has been on display for God and everyone, a wince inducing moment any actor worth his salt must endure. About the nudity, Joe is clear, "You know, my day job consists of running around naked in broad daylight, growling at grown adults. So, uh' I mean ' shyness went away long before True Blood."
Would it be crass to say, "Nudity takes balls?" Perhaps. But it has the added benefit of being true. Being naked in front of a camera is not for the weak of heart. I believe you need a strong constitution, and a willingness to laugh at yourself in order to overcome the snide remarks from strangers and the drool from everyone else, especially if you happen to be one of the few with a physique worth peeking at. It appears Joe Manganiello is keeping the perspective that he is a professional actor, and holding on to his dignity, uh, sort of.
"I'm game for pretty much anything. I think the scarier the better, the weirder the better, if it's done intelligently." Call me overprotective, but I'd like to underscore the word "intelligently," just in case anyone missed it.
At the same time, it appears he is often having more fun than any man really should be allowed to have. It's hard to begrudge him. As Captain Morgan might say, "With the victor, go the spoils," and the spoils are obviously overflowing. Joe Manganiello is about to have more screaming women (and men) throwing their underpants at him than the Twilight gang. Yikes.
Dear Joe's Mom and Dad: welcome to show business. Thanks for sharing him with us. I promise you, we know that deep down, underneath the underwear, he's a good kid.
Cady Mcclain, Contributing Writer: Cady McClain is a two-time Emmy award winner for her roles on “All My Children” and “As The World Turns” and has also worked for 30 years in film, television, and theater. Her last three Indie movies won the GI Film Festival, the Austin Film Festival and Spain’s Sitgis Film Fest (more...)