|Image via Wikimedia.|
True Blood's Joe Manganiello is on the new cover of Men's Health. He's bulked up for his new film alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sabotage. On the photo shoot for the magazine, we find the rugged-looking actor climbing rocks, training and shadowboxing. Manganiello talks about his workout and discusses how his big physique impacts his acting career. The actor says that stage performance is just as crucial as the ability to "fit the role physically." Read on!
Men with real muscle are hot property in Hollywood these days – that must be good news for you.
Yeah, but that’s a recent trend. I got to LA in 2000, when we were coming off the ’90s: women looked like men and the men all looked like women. I was constantly being told, “You’re too healthy.” So there were four years where I essentially didn’t work as an actor. I left the business and worked in construction for a masonry company: getting up at 6am, shovelling sand and mixing cement till 4pm every day in the back of a truck with four guys, where I was the only one who could speak English. I had a huge beard and I grew my hair out and wore it in this big samurai top-knot. And I got ‘hillbilly’ strong. I was staying at my friend [the actor] Armie Hammer’s house and his mother wouldn’t stop feeding me. We just ate and ate and went to the gym to lift these massive weights. Every time we went to the gym it seemed like I had gained 5lb. I just said “to hell with it” and I got huge.
But wasn’t it tempting to slim down in order to fit the slender stereotype?
Yeah. For a while I tried becoming this chain-smoking artiste dude who watched what he ate. But I hated it. I was happier going back to my roots: training like men do in my hometown of Pittsburgh. Back home the guys in the gyms don’t lift to look good; they’re lifting to lift. They do it because they want to squat more and bench more. It’s all very practical. That’s where I’m from and for me it’s embarrassing to think that I would try and get away from that to fit someone else’s idea of what a man should look like.
And now, suddenly, fashions have changed...
Exactly. In a couple of years I’ve gone from not working to a point where people are writing roles for bigger guys. I think we’re seeing a return to ‘the Man’. People come up to me and say they miss having those silent, tough guys such as Clint Eastwood and Steve McQueen. You’ve still got to be able to act and emote but you also have to fit the role physically, and that physique is now lean and muscular. Think about ancient Greece: equal part athletics, equal part philosophy. I think we’re getting there: the best of both worlds.
How are you training now? We assume the hillbilly days are behind you...
Well, I have to be camera-ready. When I first started on True Blood I had to do a lot of interval training and keep to a pretty strict diet – just moving my bodyweight around to get lean. But now I’ve started doing a lot of Olympic-style lifting: lots of squats, lots of clean-and-presses, a lot of deadlifts. The things that real sports professionals do all the time. In the last couple of years I’ve got the aesthetic side of the workout down. Now, for me, it’s all about getting practically strong.
But you’re an actor not an athlete: what motivates you to take your training as seriously as you do?
Well, if I hadn’t have been an actor I would have gone on to play college sports. I went for classical theatre so I missed out on all that training. But I think those four years away from acting, working on that construction site, made me realise that the athlete is a big part of me. Also, to be honest, my dad wanted me to be an athlete. And I think all sons want to prove something to their dad. So now, aged 35, I want to see what I can achieve physically.
And how do you measure your progress?
It’s about the amount of energy, the level of intensity that I’m putting into the workout. I love lying down in bed at night and feeling like I’ve earned my sleep. I’m at my best when I’m wearing myself out in that way. I think that’s a feeling I missed out on from by not being a sportsman.
On Magic Mike you were working alongside Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaughey and Alex Pettyfer – there must have been some competition...
Not really – it was more the fact we all had to be shirtless pretty much every day for two weeks, which gets to be pretty tricky. When you’re shirtless one or two days a week – which is how it works with True Blood – you can ramp up and ramp down the intensity of training. When you’re shirtless every day there’s no let up. So we spent a fortnight doing thousands of push-ups, thousands of curls, thousands of lat raises. We basically spent every day working out for two weeks in a row. After that I needed a pretty hardcore vacation. But it was worth it. It was the most fun I’ve ever had in my life. One hundred per cent.
[via Men's Health]