Joe Manganiello on his homelessness, depression, & earning ‘a second act’

Joe Manganiello

Joe Manganiello covers the Dec. 23 edition of the Chicago Sun-Times’ Splash magazine. It looks like the big bad wolf cleans up pretty well, right? We get some requests to cover Joe, but when he does interviews, there are no new photos. And vice versa. So this magazine cover arrives at a good time. Here’s some beefcake for your pre-Christmas enjoyment.

I wanted to mention one thing really quick. A few weeks ago, we first discussed the epic, muscle-bound cover for Joe’s new book, Evolution: The Cutting Edge Guide to Breaking Down Mental Walls and Building the Body You’ve Always Wanted. I made an offhanded comment about wanting to have a drink with Joe but doubted he’d indulge because of his “clean living” ways. I didn’t realize at the time that Joe is a recovering alcoholic! My bad.

Here are some excerpts from Joe’s Splash mag interview:

His struggles with addiction and depression: “If you knew the way that I was, [my recovery] is a miracle.”

Embracing one’s weakness can lead to success: “The actual six weeks of workouts in the book are the ones I used to go to the next level for my first shirtless scene on True Blood. I want people to find their motivation, whatever that is. Everybody’s run up against blocks and will have setbacks and failures. What I’m asking everybody in the book is to revisit those, to concentrate on those. Don’t run away from them.”

On entering Carnegie Mellon School of Drama: “There was no Plan B.”

Derailing his early career in 2000: “My brain, my body weren’t at 100 percent. It’s a very competitive field, and if you’re not at your best, with clear eyes, showing up ready to compete, you might as well not show up at all.”

He was homeless & depressed: “You get to a point where you’re gonna start getting better or you’re gonna kill yourself. I was in so much pain, but I wasn’t willing to end my life.”

He got clean in 2002: “I [knew] I’d hurt myself so badly, but realized I’d also hurt people around me. That’s what made me want to get better. But anybody who has ever fought with addiction or knows somebody who’s been in the grips of it, it’s not that easy. At the beginning, it was just about not using. The alcohol was not my problem — the alcohol was my solution to the way that I’d felt my whole life. My problem was me. My problem was reality.”

On scoring True Blood: “Divinity had a hand in it.” Upon hearing the news, Manganiello called his parents, then “laid down on the floor and breathed, let out the frustration of the past eight years — the years of not working because of my drinking, and the years of thinking my dreams weren’t going to come true. At that point, I knew I had a shot again, that there’d be a second act.”

On preparing for his wolf role: “I’d always worked out for certain roles, but this was bigger than acting, bigger than True Blood. This was my chance at the life I’d always dreamed I could have. I was going to show the universe and the business and anyone who knew me that I deserved it.”

On filming crazy scenes: “I think in most good, classic theater, there’s always a scene that makes you think, ‘Oof, how am I going to do that? That’s scary.’ But most TV and film is really safe and boring. True Blood keeps you on your toes.”

On all of his semi-naked roles: “I wanted to really say goodbye to the word ‘potential,’ and what’s come out of it is this string of shirtless, naked and seminaked projects. Somebody told me once, ‘You ride the horse the direction it’s going.’ If it’s going that way, that’s great. Someday I’ll be 60 or 70 or 80 and I’m not gonna be able to rock a thong. I’m gonna get it in now while I can.”

[From Chicago Sun-Times]

Joe also emphasizes the power of “enjoying one cheat meal per week.” Somehow I doubt he’s thinking of the same sort of cheat meal that Dwayne Johnson advocates. I don’t think anyone goes that far except the Rock.

Joe seems like a really cool dude. Until now, I figured he was a burly, egotistical monster who probably walked into a room and thought, “Come and get it, ladies.” In this interview, Joe makes it clear that he’s really grateful for his success and doesn’t take anything for granted — whether it’s his career or a relationship. During his recent Reddit AMA, Joe said, “Being famous and single is a liability. In today’s modern world. With that said, the right girl is the right girl.

Of course Joe looks devastatingly handsome in this shoot. He’s a bit too bulky for my everyday tastes, but this particular photo is very impressive.

Joe Manganiello

Joe Manganiello

Photos courtesy of Chicago Sun-Times


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34 Responses to “Joe Manganiello on his homelessness, depression, & earning ‘a second act’”

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  1. T.fanty says:

    He seems really nice and I give him massive credit for turning his life around, but all that incredibly earnest self-helpyness is a major turn-off for me. It’s kind of like reading a Chris Pine interview. In my head, this is entirely typical LA actor talk.

    *off to sit in my cave with my heart that is evidently two sizes too small*

    • lourdesdx says:


    • Anna says:

      Reading an interview?
      Sorry, my eyes gave out – happily – after all those pictures :-D :-D :-D

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      Sincerely, good for him. It takes a lot of strength to turn addiction around.

      But a man who talks about how he can “rock a thong?” Um, no….

    • Maureen says:

      I agree with @TFanty, and maybe I’m “missing the sensitivity chip” but I too felt this read like typical Hollywood jargon. “I had a dream, I struggled and was cut down low, but I came up again to live my dream. My dream, my dream, it’s all about my dream.” All this talk of dreams typifies Hollywood to me.

    • Frida_K says:

      Well, I reckon I need to join you then because I had the same reaction as you did.

      *hangs head in shame*

    • Gretchen says:

      Yeah T.Fanty, I kinda feel the same. It’s great that he overcame his addiction, buuuut there is only so much self-helpy inspirational/motivational lingo I can handle.

      Also, I remember him stating in an interview that his favourite book is The Fountainhead, and I just do not trust anyone who looks up to Ayn Rand and her bullsh*t philosophy of ubermensch and objective selfishness.

      • Lunchcoma says:

        I’m in the same boat, Gretchen. Anyone who admires Rand past high school is always going to meet with some skepticism from me. I admire people who struggle and manage to succeed, but I admire them more if they manage to retain some compassion for others who are struggling.

      • lovelylaura says:

        Gretchen & Lunchcoma (that one always makes me giggle!):

        Totally agree with the Rand fans – they scare me! I read Atlas Shrugged after my dad died, because he was a fan and I wanted to understand him better. All it did was make me realize that my dad was a miserable person who loved money but not much else. I’m glad I read it, though – it DID help me understand him better, and I wish he was still around.

        I went ahead and read The Fountainhead afterwards, and it was much worse! The “love scene” was basically a primer for sexual humiliation. So while I will continue to admire Joe’s outside, his inside I can never take seriously.

    • chris says:

      I can see how someone who is grateful to be alive and someone who is on a path of continual self improvement is such a turn off.


      you are making a huge f*cking generalization with the whole “typical LA actor talk”…go to ONE open AA meeting in the middle of no where USA and you’ll hear them talking the same way. It’s not that you don’t have a heart, YOU(a person who I assume doesn’t suffer from an addiction) don’t have the necessity to understand what hes talking about – it’s not life and death for you.

      • Kim says:

        Yes. Thats because he is speaking in AA platitudes. There is nothing wrong and everything right in overcoming addiction, but what people are responding to is the hackneyed groupthink narrative of addiction that AA overlays on all its participants lives. Again, if you get something out of it, great, but the slogans and the message can come across cheesy and oversimplified. And hearing these refrains over and over again turns them into “LA actor speak”. Sadly, i think the guy seems pretty simple and kind (good qualities) but acting wise, does anyone think we will see much of him after True Blood? And is True Blood much to write home about acting wise?

  2. Simmie says:

    I’ve always liked this guy. The 3 things I think of him from – True Blood, Magic Mike, and How I Met Your Mother – the characters are all pretty different, and I think you’d have to have something of a sense of humor about yourself to pull all of them off. He also did a Nerdist interview that he came off well in. But he does talk about working out A LOT, which…zzzzzzzzzzz.

  3. Relli says:

    Aw I love the dude! His character and guest appearances on HIMYM must have been some of his first stuff he did in his efforts to get sober. Brunch buddies forever Brad!

  4. An says:

    He seems like a really good guy. And he’s so hot. Yum!

  5. Janet says:

    I say this every time he comes up – you have to listen to his Girl on Guy interview with Aisha Tyler (free podcast) before you knock him – what a compelling story – also very funny, down to earth guy. Pretty much the best bottom-of-the -barrel story you have ever heard and body building was his way back – don’t knock it. Also -exactly my type!

  6. CuteC says:

    Being close to the area he’s originally from, dating a guy Pittsburgh myself, and spending a lot of time there…I know where he goes for a “cheat meal” when he goes home. And believe me, it’s terrible for you, but my God it is delicious! Look up Primanti Brothers. It’s a sandwich place in Pittsburgh. He hits it up every time he’s in the ‘Burgh.

  7. GeeMoney says:

    Oh man… he’s hot. Congrats to him on his years of sobriety.

  8. Dani says:

    I don’t care for muscles but my god. Seriously. Wow. So hot.

  9. menlisa says:

    This interview made me a fan.
    I’m kinda disappointed by some of the comments of how he is coming across as too ‘self-helpy’ or how it is the typical Hollywood talk.

    I overcame my drug and alcohol addiction along with having to kick over a decade long battle with depression.
    It was brutal. I didn’t really have the support of family because everyone else did not understand.
    Reading stories like his or like Monteith’s (may he RIP), Jolie’s and so on reaffirms my belief that anything is possible.

    Also once you have survived hitting rock bottom you become ridiculously grateful for every single thing. I’m talking about doing a little dance when you wake up in the morning because before you would PRAY that you didn’t. I’m talking about dealing with problems head on instead of wallowing in pity. Or when it rains and you get really happy because you now have a roof over your head to shelter you from it.

    I come of ‘self-helpy’ at times to my friends but it’s only because I still have to pinch myself because I can’t believe I made it.

    Good for him.

    • LadySlippers says:

      Bravo to you! It IS hard and a lot of people have no idea what it takes to pull yourself up.

      Also, in defence if the comments above, my guess is they’ve run into people that used a ‘self-help’ line in order to make people like them. So it can be hard to differentiate between a real person that has struggled to stand back up or someone who uses it as their backstory but it’s not necessarily true.

      Anyhoo, *congrats* on your recovery. Send some good thoughts (if you don’t mind) my way as I’m still struggling (post abusive marriage) to get back on my feet.

      • menlisa says:

        *e-hug* to you LadySlippers. I’m replying so late, truly hope you do see this post!
        I guess I can kinda see where they are coming from. I think lots of people are jaded by past struggles detailed by celebs because some make it up (like those who claim to be bullied but they weren’t lol).

        Will absolutely send good thoughts your way! Don’t beat yourself up if you stumble a few times, the fact that you are no longer in the abusive marriage shows that you are strong. I’ll keep you in my thoughts & prayers and don’t give up!!

    • chris says:

      thank you for posting this. way to go on the recovery. :)

  10. Samtha says:

    I didn’t know he went to Carnegie Mellon. They have a great program.

  11. chris says:

    To all the people who think this sounds like BS hollywood self-help crap…have obviously no idea what addiction or recovery from it is like. If you have even the smallest exposure to it, you’d get what hes saying and not think hes a hollywood douche.

  12. Emily C. says:

    Well, he’s perfect for my everyday tastes. And he’s been through hell, he worked super hard, he’s not stupid, and he’s got a sense of humor about himself, unlike some actors one could name who are worshiped all over the internet for no reason apparent to me.

  13. Mallie says:

    Good for him.

    Why are we throwing shade again?

    Because a humble successful Hollywood actor overcame many obstacles wants to share his inspirational story? In hopes of inspiring others. Yeah that’s so annoying … *eyeroll*

    Let’s clap for the other modelizer guy, whose entitled and smug all the time. Yay!! …. Not.

  14. Bodhi says:

    Joe is a really great guy & I am VERY happy to see him getting positive press on this site. He is FAR more than a jacked up bro

  15. Izzy says:

    For quite a while I’ve thought he’s just a muscle-bound egotastic douche-canoe.

    I may have to revise my opinion of him…