Starring Channing Tatum as an experienced stripper who takes a young prodigy (Alex Pettyfer) under his shirtless wing, Magic Mike (Tatum’s own mainstream version of Soderbergh’s Girlfriend Experience) features Matthew McConaughey, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Kevin Nash, Cody Horn and Olivia Munn.
In the film, "True Blood" star Joe Manganiello plays a man with the humble name of "Big Dick Richie,"a member of a near nude entourage led by McConaughey's character Dallas. Let's just say if you're looking to see Manganiello show off his classically trained actor chops, you should look elsewhere.
I sat down with Manganiello to discuss the crazy set atmosphere, the fun of wearing a fireman suit, and the new hardcore levels he's about to reach on HBO's "True Blood."
Magic Mike opens Friday June 29.
When I talked to Channing Tatum, he said that everyone wants to ask Steven Soderbergh really smart questions, but they should ask him "crude f**king sh*t." What do you think about that?
He lets you know right off the bat. I got offered the part, and wanted to have a conversation with Steven. So I got this email from him that said, "Yeah, we should talk Saturday - after 10 a.m. That will give me enough time to stop throwing up." And I thought, "Who the hell is this guy?" And then we spent twenty minutes talking on the phone about penis pumps. How did the penis pump factor into the Magic Mike story?
The penis pump was in the script, and was one of the reasons why I signed on. [The name] "Big Dick Richie," penis pump, sewing his thong at the sewing machine, fireman suit, silhouette routine. The only one that I came up with was the gold statue. I was thinking something in marble. So this movie was collaborative, flying by the seat of your assless chaps, so to speak?
Yeah, the whole thing came together as a collaboration. Especially the scenes where all the guys were together. When we got together, there was a movie that wasn't in the script. For the most part, a lot of that stuff was going on in that Steven would be setting [something else] up and then say, "Wait, we need to shoot this!" We would wind up shooting this stuff of us just bullshitting in the locker room.
What's an example of a scene that came together like that?
The whole scene in which Alex [Pettyfer] comes backstage for the first time.
The moment in which he is asked to bronze Kevin Nash's legs?
That was us just fucking with him. He stayed in character and went with it, and it was like Animal House. We didn't even say Animal House or talk about it, that was just the vibe that came from that scene.
Was there some type of giddy winking joy to playing a male stripper considering that People magazine listed you as one of the "Sexiest Men Alive" and all your Google searches are of you without your shirt on? I think it was the opposite. Yes, if you Google my name, it's like I don't own a shirt.
But you're also a classically trained actor. Exactly. It's funny to think that in my 20s I didn't have my shirt off ever. But when I turn 30, it's like Werewolf Stripper City.
You're knocking out all of these fantasies.
I've covered a large majority of the Village People. But I think there was an element that was like, "Do I need to be worried about this being taken seriously?" I was like, "Ah, screw it."
It seems like you're having a lot of fun with giving what people want.
Yeah, it's like when we did the MTV Video Music Awards. "Give me the fireman suit."
Did you ever think male stripping could be this fun?
I think, like everyone, I had a stigma about it. "This is weird, creepy, and stupid. Who are these weird people who are doing this?" But once you get into it you go, "Wait. This is so hysterically funny, what guy wouldn't want to get drunk with his buddies all day, smoke weed, do drugs, go out on stage, just grind on these screaming, clawing, frothing women stuffing money in your pants, go back count it all out, bring the girls backstage, take 'em home, sleep it off? Lift some weights, and go back to the club and start drinking." It's like, "Who wouldn't want to do that?" The trick is that it's going to take its toll. This is like male wish fulfillment.
It must be empowering to have these people demanding these "skills" that you have.
Yeah. It's great. It's a hell of a feeling. Even as an actor, it's just like "Jeez."
And even with extras ... the energy must have been crazy.
The energy would blow your ears back. You go off the stage, and you're like, "C'mon let's reset. I want to go back out there."
How was it shooting those sequences with all of those extras?
They just went crazy the whole time. They were literally jumping up, putting their hands down on the table and their butts in the air. They were into it, man. They ripped McConaughey's thong off. One of them got oral on one of the guys. Wild, man.
Was there ever a moment in which it was too much? Did anyone have to be stopped?
No, this is just what happens. I interviewed and hung out with guys who did this. That's what happens, man. That's the life.
Oral on stage?
Yeah, sometimes! If your stuff is close enough to their face, what are we really doing here at the end of the day? Literally, you are rubbing your junk in their face. There are times when you go backstage, and you're sweating with a thong up your ass, thinking, "Holy shit. Did I just cross a line?" In the end, it's like "No, you didn't. But my parents are going to see this!"
Are your parents going to see this?
I can't stop them.
That's true. It is a free country.
Between that, and the stuff I do on "True Blood." "True Blood" is pretty hardcore this year. I think some of this stuff going on with me is the most hardcore that it's been in years. If I wasn't on Cinemax's radar before, they're going to come looking for me.
Did you guys have a lot of discussions about the sexuality of this movie on set?
I think we're all students of the game. I think especially on "True Blood" — and Matt Bomer and I went to drama school together. We mix classical training with crazy sex stuff. On "True Blood," it's not uncommon to turn a corner and have a full-blown conversation of necrophilia and bestiality. Like really serious conversations about the implications on society, and the history of it, etc. I had a half-hour conversation on-set about when a female werewolf gets pregnant, if the fetus would shit when she shifts. We found the answer out, but we were talking it out. "What does this mean in terms of women, and objectification?"
And finally, does Matthew McConaughey really say "Alright, alright, alright, alright" a lot?
Yeah. He told me the story of where that came from, which was from Dazed and Confused. He was driving around, listening to Jim Morrison. And Jim goes, "Alright, ALRIGHT, ALRIGHT, ALRIGHT!" And when he pulls up in his scene, he just says, [in a McConaughey impression] "Alright, alright, alright, alright." And now we are revisiting it years later. It's from Matthew to [his character] Dallas.
This movie does reflect upon that.
It brings you back to that freewheeling kid when he shot that. In the way that Boogie Nights was for Burt Reynolds, this kind of retrospective does that for McConaughey without being so on the nose. It's a callback to fun. That role, that movie was so fun, "Don't get it twisted," that's what this is. With that said, you definitely go on a roller coaster ride to some dark, sordid places in the movie. But I think him, however conscious it was, hearing McConaughey going, "Alright, alright, alright, alright," you just know that everything is alright with the world. The party is about to start.
Quick Questions with Joe Manganiello
What did you have for breakfast this morning? Dunkin' Donuts blueberry donuts and Dunkin' Donuts blueberry coffee. They are the ones doing blueberry coffee.
Favorite summer movie? When I was conscious, I saw Return of the Jedi. Wrapping up the Star Wars trilogy was a big deal.
Favorite Star Wars movie? The Empire Strikes Back. C'mon. It's the shit.
If you could be someone else for 24 hours? How do I not give a completely lecherous answer? Oh boy ... Sofia Vergara?
Age of first kiss? Sixth grade.
Channing has got you beat on that, by the way. Well, Channing was pretty advanced even at 18 and 19, according to this movie.