Interviews

Getting to Work: Joe Manganiello's Fitness Evolution

The athletic actor quit boozing, hit the gym hard and and is now reaping the rewards of his toil.

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joe-manganiello

If you’ve seen my book, Evolution, you can see how skinny I was as a kid. I couldn’t do one pullup or one dip into high school, which has nothing to do with my athletic ability. It just had to do with my lack of any form of upper-body strength. I played football, basketball, and volleyball in high school. I had an MCL tear playing varsity football, returning a kickoff in a game. I tore it, and it gave me enough pause that I started thinking about what I wanted to do with my life. I was going to go play basketball in college. I was set to do that, and I was going to study criminal justice. But at the last minute in high school…we had a TV studio and you could take TV classes. And I started writing and directing and producing films and TV shows. And then starring in them. 

Find Your Foothold

joe-manganiello-cliff

I wound up trying out for the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama. I think they took 17 actors out of 800 who auditioned from around the world, and I was one of them. And they gave me a scholarship to go to the school; I really got in at the last minute. But I think it set the table for the kind of career that I have now. The past few years have been kind of a reward for all of that weirdness or awkwardness. Because I get to be an artist and I get to be an athlete rolled into the same job.

The link between my acting and my fitness is an interesting thing. I think that I was doing great work for years. I’ve been acting for 22 years. I started in classical theater. I started doing Chekhov and Ibsen and Shakespeare. And I was in sitcom after sitcom after sitcom. I did some plays that were nominated for awards. But none of those were a break until the physicality melded with the acting in True Blood. People really took notice. I think I tried to get away with being the smoking, drinking artiste—you know, that romantic idea of the artiste—it just wasn’t me. I’m at my best when I can find a role that offers that type of physicality.

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