When he was unleashed to the world via HBO’s True Blood just two years ago, Joe Manganiello began to fully realize his dream. And even though he was more than welcomed by the show’s rabid fans all over the world, this Friday, he may attract a million more by unleashing something else in the steamy Magic Mike.

Why? Well, with the character name, Big Dick Richie, let’s just say if the Oscars gave an award for best on-screen name, this guy would have it wrapped up.

“Thank you very much. I also have my Oscar footage that they’re going to play for me in memoriam when I die,” he says laughing.

Manganiello is on the roster of beefcakes that make up Steven Soderbergh and Channing Tatum’s dramatic skin-flick; which is partially based off Tatum’s experiences working as a dancer in a Tampa, Florida strip club prior to being discovered. Coincidentally, both Soderbergh and Tatum had Big Joe in mind, as he told yours truly how he snagged the role in this R-rated riot.

“Channing said he had me in mind when they were writing it. And as the story goes, Steven Soderbergh was flipping through the channels one night and caught my appearance on Chelsea Handler, and he watched my interview with her and thought that guy is the perfect Big Dick Richie.”

And let’s just say when the two approached him, it was a fairly easy sell.

“When I read the script, I saw fireman suit with girl overhead, and then I saw a penis pump. Then I thought, okay, hey, let’s do this. I mean those are some pretty great scene stealing moments. So it’s like, hey, let’s go with it.”

Manganiello may not have the meatiest role (no pun intended) in Magic Mike, but as he stated, he does have a few highlighted opportunities to showcase more of his acting abilities. He elaborates on how he forms both his character in this upcoming flick, and his stoic werewolf persona, Alcide, in True Blood.

“There are shades or times in my life when I’ve been Big Dick Riche for sure. Especially during my early twenties, since I started working in clubs at the age of sixteen. So there’s a lot of that club life experience in BDR. But the other side of me, Alcide, is very much how I was in my teenager years. I was much more shy and introverted. Now with that said, in season 5 of True Blood, Alcide changes quite bit. So I think there’s some Big Dick Richie in Alcide this year (laughing). They’re all just shades of me and then you go do your research and add all the stuff into the pot that you didn’t have already.”

Talking with Manganiello, you can hear the excitement in his voice when discussing his current stature. Every answer he gives is complimented with a smile, as if to say, ‘pinch me; is this really happening?’

“I’m having the time of my life, for starters. You know, I wake up every morning super-excited to see what the day is going to bring. It is everything I dreamed of, and more. And I really like the way that it has happened. I couldn’t have dreamed up a better role to break me out as the one on True Blood. I absolutely love playing this role more than anything I’ve ever played in my life.”

As we started yapping about his respective scenes in MM, the guy said it was a complete blast to be a part of a film with accomplished actors such as Tatum and Matthew McConaughey, along with his drama school buddy, Matt Bomer; all of whom rock the stage in skimpy and outlandish outfits. One scene in particular sees Manganiello having to deal with a generously proportioned patron during one of the numerous wild club dance numbers showcased in the film. First off, you’ll know when you see it; secondly, he was glad someone finally asked him about that moment.

“Ah thank you, I appreciate you asking that; very flattering. No man, I flipped that girl and she went up quick. But I was really juiced up because of the crowd. Buy yeah, that was all me.”

Me: You had me believing you really tweaked your back. Did you?

“Ah, well, once again, I appreciate you asking that question, too. But that was all scripted; however, I did fake out the medic, twice. I did that, and ‘hurt my back’ and I put her down and walked off backstage. And everyone was high-fiving me backstage, ‘like dude that was so funny’ and the medic came running back all panic-like. It’s like, dude, it’s part of the act! And then two takes later, I did the same thing again and he ran back there again yelling ‘who’s hurt who’s hurt?’ So you know you’ve done your job when you fake out the medic.”

As expected, this film/role called for a plethora suggestive, and downright crude, sequences to be enacted. Manganiello was game for anything, but he did reflect on his first convo with director Steven Soderbergh regarding what will eventually be known as the famed ‘penis pump’ scene. Once he got past that, he was up for whatever they threw at him.

Since Channing Tatum graduated from high school in Tampa, Florida, and as stated earlier it’s also where he did a stint in the world of exotic dancing, Tatum – who co-produces this flick, definitely wanted to shoot as much as he could where it all went down (pun intended). And the art-loving Manganiello could not have been happier coming over to Florida.

“Love it. I absolutely loved it. You guys (I’m based in Tampa) actually have one of the best museums in the world in St. Pete, in The Dali Museum. I’m just a big art guy. A lot of my friends are visual artists. We’re constantly going to art shows and I collect art as a hobby. So I dragged all the guys out to St. Pete, and at the time I don’t think anyone knew what was going, and now it might be a different story, but anyway, there was a Magic Mike male stripper outing to the museum while we were shooting, (again, laughing).”

Somehow the chat turned to my opinion on the film. And the word “tasteful” came out.

“(lets out a roar of laughter)…I refer to it as grimy,” says Manganiello.

“But you’re right, the script read like an art-house Steven Soderbergh movie. We thought we were making this little five-million dollar indie expose on the underworld of male-stripping. Then when we started doing our routines, and all of a sudden all of these studio executives started showing up every day, repeatedly, and there was a bidding war for the movie. And we all looked at each other and went, ‘Are you shitting me?’ Everyone in the world is going to see these things and what we are doing to these women?’ It came as a shock to all of us. And even though we have our dance routines, it still has an art-house feel to it.”

Final question: How many ladies/extras copped a feel and/or went over the line…if there was a line?

“Oh, Yeah. There was a girl who got oral with one of the guys during a routine. So there’s that. Ah, when I was painted head-to-toe in gold, there was a point where a woman jumped up – I remember she was wearing a red-dress, and put her hands on the table and arched her back like a cat with her butt up in the air and looked at me and started nodding, like, ‘oh yeah.’ And then one of her friends jumped up waving dollar bills and screaming ‘give it to her!’ So, yeah, there was stuff like that (laughing the entire answer).”

“The girls in the movie, they’re a whole another character. They’re a Greek chorus.”

Yep, Joe Manganiello is a happy guy.

Joe Manganiello
He is loving life.

By Joe Belcastro

Joe Belcastro is an established movie critic in Tampa, Florida. As a member of the Florida Film Critics Circle, most of his time is spent reviewing upcoming movies. He also covers news pertaining to the film industry, on both a local and national level as well as conducting interviews. To contact Joe Belcastro regarding a story or with general questions about his services, please e-mail him and/or follow him on Twiiter @TheWritingDemon.

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