Joe Manganiello is not a meathead, but he’s flattered when people think he is

Joe Manganiello opens up about his reputation, and it's not what you'd expect.

Joe Manganiello opens up about his reputation, and it’s not what you’d expect.

(Niklas Hallen / AFP / Getty Images)

Joe Manganiello is deep, you guys. Like, there’s way more to him than buff pecs and that killer smolder, and he readily turned preconceptions upside-down in a recent interview.

“I play male strippers; I play construction worker werewolves, but that’s not who I am,” the “Magic Mike XXL” star told Haute Living.

“I’m flattered when people think of me as a meathead. I loved Robert De Niro growing up and [his characters] Jake LaMotta and Travis Bickle [of ‘Raging Bull’ and ‘Taxi Driver,’ respectively] are not wickedly intelligent characters, but I’ll tell you what: De Niro is a wickedly intelligent guy. It takes a very smart man to play dumb. I think who I play onscreen and who I am in my real life are very different.”

The 38-year-old “True Blood” alum illuminated that during his lengthy interview, reflecting on his career and traditional theater training at Carnegie Mellon, which he attended with “Magic Mike” costar Matt Bomer.

“I’m curious about things; I’m part artist, part athlete. I try not to define myself. I try not to put labels on things, and I don’t label other people either,” he said.


The actor, who also writes and produces, said he skipped his prom to see “Blade Runner,” doesn’t have a motorcycle or work on vintage cars, and doesn’t drink because of his previous struggles with addiction. But he doesn’t mind the rep he’s built either, saying that “if you want to work in this business, you need to learn how to play it.”

Though he’s been seen in numerous dramatic and sexed-up roles, Manganiello said he’s drawn to comedy and loves making people laugh — as seen in his portrayal of limber stripper Big Dick Richie in “Magic Mike XXL.”

“Comedy makes the most sense to me,” he said. “When I watch love scenes, I always cringe and think, ‘I know that girl and I know her husband and she’s making out with some other guy rolling around. That’s creepy and weird’ ... We’re all just pretending — but the strings are less visible when it’s comedy. You’re just there to be entertained and laugh, and I love being able to give an audience that.”

Manganiello also opened up about his courtship of “Modern Family” star Sofia Vergara, saying he proposed after only six months of dating because “when you know, you know, and we knew right away — like, very quickly.”

Initially, Vergara tried to push him away, and she spent their first date giving him “every reason why it would never work,” he said. The Colombian bombshell had just broken off her engagement with Nick Loeb, thought Manganiello was too young for her and wasn’t keen on dating an actor.

“She had just gotten out of a relationship and I knew that she wanted to be single,” he said, adding, “but we knew right away, and she knew she was screwed. I said to her, ‘If you need to be single, go do it and do it now if that’s what you need to do,’ and she didn’t.”

Manganiello popped the question on one knee, in Spanish, at sunset on Christmas Eve while they were vacationing on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. Vergara, as we know, said yes.

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