Wolf! ‘True Blood’s newest hunk made his much hyped debut this Sunday night, as viewers finally met Alcide Hervieux, a werewolf who will be spending a lot of time with Sookie (Anna Paquin) as her bodyguard.
Joe Manganiello, known for playing Owen on ‘One Tree Hill‘ and Flash Thompson in the first ‘Spiderman‘ movie, landed the pivotal role. Manganiello revealed why Alcide comes into Sookie’s life, how he prepared for his nude scenes and why playing this role is the culmination of a lifelong dream.
Tell me all about Alcide.
Alcide is a werewolf. He plays the role of Sookie’s bodyguard in season three.
How close is the TV version to the character that is in the books?
He’s pretty close as far as the description goes. He’s brought by Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) to bodyguard Sookie because Bill’s (Stephen Moyer) been kidnapped and Sookie believes that werewolves have some information to his whereabouts. So Alcide is brought in [because of ] his father’s debt to escort Sookie into the underground society of werewolves.
Are the two of them going to get romantic?
All I can say is that bonding happens. They bond.
What about Alcide’s ex-girlfriend Debbie Pelt?
She’s Alcide’s psycho ex-girlfriend who’s causing a lot of trouble for him. At the time where we pick up, Alcide was engaged to Debbie (Brit Morgan) and she leaves him. We find Alcide pretty heartbroken. On the other side we find Sookie who is nursing her own troubles with Bill as well. You stick Alcide and Sookie together, we’ll see what happens.
Tell me more about Alcide’s storyline.
Vampires and werewolves don’t like each other. The terms to which Alicide is summoned, he has to show up against his will. He’s just a guy who wants to live his life and doesn’t want to get wrapped up in all this, but as more and more of the plot unfolds, Alcide hits the point where he winds up seeing some things and finding out some things are going on that he can’t walk away from. Basically the fact of the matter is he’s forced into it because of his father’s debt.
How many episodes have you shot?
I just finished shooting my sixth episode.
What was your first meeting with Anna Paquin like?
I met Anna at the table read. We sat across the table and read and it went really well. It’s such a great character and such great writing and Anna’s a very generous actress. I am constantly blown away. There are days where she has to sit there and cry for ten hours straight and she just commands her scenes. She’s pretty amazing. My mother is a huge fan of ‘The Piano‘ so I’ve seen a lot of Anna’s work previously and I’m also a fan of the ‘X Men‘ movies.
You were a big ‘True Blood’ fan before you were cast on the show.
That’s true. I followed a weblink to a blog where fans of the book were speculating who should play Alcide. I was one of the people they were posting pictures of. That’s actually how I got forwarded the books and made sure I didn’t miss an episode and started bugging my agents and managers to get me in. That was about a year and a half ago so for about a year solid I was campaigning to try and get in for this part. I did and it worked.
You had to do a nude scene soon after you joined the show. What was that like?
I’m the resident piece of meat on the show this year. Obviously you get cast as a shapeshifter on ‘True Blood’ and you’ve got to assume your costumes are going to be minimal at times but there’s a lot of shirtlessness. There’s some wolf transformation. There’s a lot of skin so I had to make sure I was in peak physical condition.
What was your work out regimen?
I started training with Hugh Jackman’s trainer from ‘X-Men.’ His name is Ron Matthews. He put me on a strict six day a week regimen and got me into werewolf shape.
Who is superior: werewolves or vampires?
Obviously I’m partial to werewolves. I think they’re cool. It’s interesting to note that werewolves and vampires don’t generally like each other. So look for some conflict in the season coming up for sure.
In the books, Alcide was a construction worker. Is that true on the show as well?
My father and I, we run a contracting company.
Did you study construction to prepare?
Actually, I used to work construction. I used to work for a masonry company, which is a construction company that works with stone. I used to do deliveries and demolitions which basically meant that I delivered tons of sand and gravel to job sites. I hauled 100 pound bags of cement and I would jackhammer cinder blocks to put in pools, houses, things like that. I guess it’s art imitating life.
Who did you hang out with most on set?
Anna. She and I are pretty inseparable while on the show. But I got to hang out with Ryan Kwanten a lot who cracks me up. Chris Bauer who plays Andy Bellefleur, I get to hang out with him. He also works out at my gym which is really cool. I just went to the Merriweather and Mosely boxing match and sat next to Nelsan Ellis (Lafayette). I hang out with Stephen (Moyer) a lot and also some of the newer cast members, Denis O’Hare (King Russell) and Grant Bowler (Coot). It’s a big family over there.
Can you give us a preview of some exciting scenes?
People are going to lose their minds. One of the highlights of my week was getting those scripts. There’s going to be a lot of blood this year. They’re going to explain a lot of things that the fans wanted explained. You’re going to be introduced to a new race, the werewolves. It’s going to be wild.
How did you approach playing a werewolf?
I studied wolves. I got to hang out with wolves, watched wolf documentaries. I did a lot of reading on it, watched their movement, how they act. Some of that is incorporated into the character. Really and truly, I think I’ve been preparing for this since I was about five years old. As a kid who loved the old black and white Lon Chaney, Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff monster movies, it was fantastic.
Did it live up to your expectations?
And more. Absolutely. Once you start reading the material Alan Ball and the other writers wrote, it’s so textured, it’s so layered. These characters really have hearts and souls. There’s a lot to bite into as an actor.
You have done a lot of genre work, including the ‘Spiderman’ movies. How do you feel about fandoms?
I love it. When I grew up, I was a big comic book reader. ‘Spiderman’ was amazing to be a part of. I’m just super excited. I love Comic-con. So for me to be associated with it again with such a great part on such a great show… I wanted to play a werewolf my entire life so to do it on what is my opinion the best werewolf-vampire-supernatural project going right now,and possibly ever, I could not be more excited.
‘True Blood’ airs Sunday nights at 9 p.m./EST on HBO.