The Rarely Known Details About Joe Manganiello

One of those Hollywood stars whose biceps are bigger than most people's heads, Joe Manganiello has shown off both his bulging muscles and his acting skills (he graduated from the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama) as werewolf Alcide in supernatural hit "True Blood," stripper Big Dick Richie in the "Magic Mike" franchise and supervillain Slade Wilson/Deathstroke in "Justice League."

And having willingly shared details about his battle with substance abuse, along with his subsequent path to sobriety, and his rollercoaster relationship with "Modern Family" star Sofia Vergara, you're no doubt just as familiar with the Pittsburgh native's private life as you are his screen credits. 

But there are certain details about Manganiello that have been less publicized. From his geeky high school beginnings and remarkable family tree to celebrity friendships and mental health problems, not to mention his taste in music, pre-fame jobs and dating techniques, here's a look at 14 of the most intriguing. 

Joe Manganiello wasn't your typical jock

Joe Manganiello was an all-round star athlete at Mt. Lebanon High School, captaining the basketball, volleyball and football teams before competing in the same three sports at varsity level. You might expect, therefore, that the future Hollywood star was your typical jock that every guy wanted to be and girl wanted to be with.

However, in a 2011 interview with Out, Manganiello revealed that he never experienced such a level of popularity: "I had the jocks that I was supposed to belong with and party with, and I didn't see eye-to-eye with them. I remember getting in fights with guys on the football team for bullying artistic guys I was friends with."

Indeed, the "True Blood" favorite admitted that he had more in common with the outsiders than the in-crowd: "Internally, I was more of a weirdo artist. I identified with the kids smoking on the corner in Slayer T-shirts. That was more of who I was."

Joe Manganiello battled depression after losing out on iconic role

It's well-known in entertainment circles that Joe Manganiello narrowly missed out on the role of Superman in "Man of Steel" to fellow muscular nerd Henry Cavill. But it's perhaps not as well-known that the career setback severely affected the Pittsburgh native's mental health.

In a candid 2015 interview with Digital Spy, Manganiello said: "I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't ... I was really, severely depressed for a few months. For a few months afterwards. Because I really thought the direction they were taking the movie and the character, I really thought I had a great idea where to take that and I was very excited and I just wanted to try out my ideas and things. But, you know, it just wasn't meant to be."

Manganiello's "True Blood" commitments ultimately ruled him out of contention for the part: "... The dates for shooting Superman would have conflicted with 11 weeks of season five. And as it turns out they had big plans for my character in season five and they were not willing to share me with Superman."

Joe Manganiello was a scrawny kid

In 2013, a throwback photo emerged of a bespectacled, gawky kid who looked more like a young Napoleon Dynamite than a future Men's Health cover star. But incredibly, the boy in the ill-fitting basketball vest grew up to be the hugely muscular "Magic Mike" pin-up Joe Manganiello.

The man himself shared the picture to promote his new book, "Evolution: The Cutting Edge Guide to Breaking Down Mental Walls and Building the Body You've Always Wanted." In an interview with HuffPost, Manganiello expressed (via Yahoo!) his hopes that the unflattering image would serve as inspiration for anyone currently feeling like a coach potato: "Look at that before picture. If I can transform from that skinny kid, who couldn't do one pull up, into the guy who's on the cover, anybody can do it."

In another chat with Robert Irvine, Manganiello admitted that he couldn't even manage one pull-up when he first took up bodybuilding at the age of 13: "I just made it my business and it changed my life and it continues to change my life. I'm 40 years old and I'm in the best shape of my life and it's because of that."

Joe Manganiello is a Dungeons and Dragons nerd

Turns out that competing for the same Superman role isn't the only thing that Joe Manganiello has in common with fellow Hollywood hunk Henry Cavill. The pair are both unashamed, unapologetic fantasy nerds. But while the man who beat him to the part of the Man of Steel is obsessed with Warhammer, the "Magic Mike" star is more of a Dungeons and Dragons geek.

In fact, Manganiello even turned his own basement into a mecca, which he nicknamed the Gary Gygax Memorial Dungeon, for the role-playing phenomenon. He's also taken on a consultant role for D&D publisher Wizards of the Coast, launched a clothing range heavily influenced by his hobby and once threw shade at a professional wrestler for insinuating that the game and the gym are mutually exclusive passions.

Speaking to Variety in 2021, Manganiello admitted that sharing his love of the game has impacted his social media following: "I think publicly letting people know that I'm into that stuff, it's probably turned off a lot of women and men who follow me on Instagram because they wanted shirtless photos. I think maybe those people have left my Instagram feed. It's let the people who matter know I do understand these properties. I am one of these people who is a writer, a content creator and I get them."

Joe Manganiello has gone full frontal

Joe Manganiello is certainly no stranger to taking his clothes off. The Pittsburgh native spent most of his screentime in "True Blood" and the "Magic Mike" series showing off his rippling muscles. He even managed to sneak in a shirtless scene in "Pee-Wee's Big Holiday." But he's yet to bare completely all on camera.

However, he's not entirely averse to displaying all his goods in the name of entertainment, as he explained to HuffPost in 2012: "When I was in college, I did an Off-Broadway show where I was full-frontal on stage, so I guess all of these crazy parts have been coming my way for a long time."

In another chat with E! at a Golden Globes party, Manganiello also admitted that he once got all his kit off at the most inappropriate moment while playing "True Blood" hunky werewolf Alcide: "We were shooting a transformation scene in broad daylight and there was a hedge and over the hedge was a school bus filled with kids ... Listen, you're not having fun unless it's something you can get thrown in prison for."

Joe Manganiello took on various odd jobs after Spider-Man

Joe Manganiello may have appeared in one of the most famous scenes from 2002's "Spider-Man" — his bully Flash Thompson's food fight with Tobey Maguire's Peter Parker. But his early brush with the superhero world didn't exactly lead to fame and fortune.

In fact, it would be another four years before Manganiello appeared on camera again (a guest spot on crime procedural "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation"). And in-between these two screen credits, the star took on several odd jobs to bring in some money. He worked as a delivery guy for a masonry firm, bouncer and as a laborer on a construction site. In a 2010 chat with Extra, Manganiello revealed what kind of back breaking duties he had to carry out during his spell as the latter: "I was shoveling sand and gravel off the back of a truck trying to make ends meet for a little while in there. Hauling cement bags and jackhammers ... it got rough."

Incredibly, Manganiello also found the energy to work out after such an exhausting shift, as he explained to Men's Health: "I didn't just train after work: I hit the gym like an animal. I pushed myself to the point where people around me were borderline frightened."

Joe Manganiello worked at bars underage

While most high school students will deliver newspapers, mow the neighbors' lawns or babysit for that extra bit of pocket money, Joe Manganiello did things a little differently. At the age of just 16, he somehow managed to bag a role promoting Captain Morgan in his Pittsburgh's hometown bars.

Yes, a good five years before he was legally allowed to even step foot in such premises, the future Hollywood star donned a pirate costume to help spread the word about the rum brand. And in a chat with Elle, Manganiello revealed that he had the time of his life: "Those were the first times I was ever in a bar. Ever drunk in a bar. It was a bit of an education. I'd lie to the hot college girls about going to the University of Pittsburgh. Little did they know that I didn't have a driver's license."

Indeed, these "hot college girls" obviously mustn't have spotted how Manganiello turned up to work — a lift from his mom. The "Bottom of the 9th" star recalled, "I don't think she knew what was going on. She knew I was going to make $25 an hour."

Joe Manganiello and Matt Bomer were friends before fame

In 2012, both Joe Manganiello and Matt Bomer were cast in Steven Soderbergh's franchise-spawning dramedy "Magic Mike." But this wasn't the first time that the pair had acted together. They'd previously appeared on screen together in an episode of procedural "White Collar." And they were both in the same class at the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama.

Speaking to HuffPost, Manganiello revealed how happy he was to have reconnected again with his old pal: "He used to come over to my mom's house for Thanksgiving back in college. It's just amazing to think that 11 years outside of drama school, we're still going, and we get cross paths as many times as we get to this year. It's so awesome to have a friend out there, somebody that I've known before any of this happened."

Three years later while promoting the "Magic Mike" sequel, Manganiello joked to the press (via People) about how his and Bomer's training had prepared them for their roles as strippers: "Chekhov and Shakespeare and Ibsen and all of that. Now, at this moment in our careers where Scene 1, Take 1, Joe, you're going to get naked and cannonball Channing [Tatum] into a pool. That education really paid off."

Joe Manganiello is a metalhead

Joe Manganiello is perhaps best known for his revealing dance routine to Backstreet Boys' "I Want It That Way" in the "Magic Mike" sequel. But it's unlikely you'll ever see him busting a move to late '90s boyband pop in his downtime. For the actor is a full-blown metalhead.

In fact, you could barely shut Manganiello up when talk turned to heavy metal in a 2023 interview with Revolver. When asked about when he first got into the genre, he replied, "As a little kid, to tell you the truth, I had a lot of David Lee Roth Van Halen on vinyl ... And then evolved into "Appetite for Destruction," "Dr. Feelgood," those came around junior high, beginning of high school ... My first concert in high school was Pantera, Sepultura and Biohazard ... It's just so evil in the best way possible. Like you're doing something you shouldn't be doing or listening to."

And Manganiello has occasionally dipped his toes into metal waters on a professional level. He worked as a roadie for Goldfinger during his lean Hollywood years. And he even provided backing vocals on "Hospital," a track from The Used's 2007 album "Lies for the Liars."

Joe Manganiello was a bodyguard for Tyrese

The most unusual job that Joe Manganiello took on in his early years was undoubtedly bodyguard to Tyrese Gibson. Yes, putting his imposing frame to good use, the Pittsburgh native spent several months protecting the R&B singer/"Fast and Furious" star from overzealous members of the public.

And Manganiello experienced quite the education during his brief spell on the other side of the fame game, telling The Daily Beast, "When I was working those jobs, you do take notes of how the celebrities act and behave to other people, especially the guys who make $10 an hour. I saw a lot of things that I didn't like and a lot of people behave in ways that I didn't approve of. I got an education on how not to behave." Sadly, for all the gossip hounds, the "What To Expect When You're Expecting" actor didn't elaborate on which stars inadvertently gave him this lesson. 

Manganiello took on the position in-between getting the role of Flash Thompson in 2002's "Spider-Man" and shooting it. He also used his muscles to work on the doors of a Universal Studios Mexican rock joint and sketchy nightclub venue named The Palace.

Joe Manganiello discovered he descends from slavery

Joe Manganiello certainly heard some unexpected news in 2021 when he appeared on genealogy series "Finding Your Roots". The "Archenemy" star was informed that he descends from slavery. The discovery began when the show's experts found out that Manganiello and his paternal grandfather's DNA didn't match up. After further investigation, it was determined that one of three other distant relatives, all of whom were brothers, was his true grandparent. And interestingly, the siblings were said to be African American.

The team then delved further into Manganiello's family tree where they happened upon his fifth great-grandfather. Plato Turner was an African man that had been forced into the slave trade before finding freedom, eventually serving in the Revolutionary War. As you'd expect, the actor was stunned to hear about this piece of his past. He remarked (via TODAY) "For me to be sitting here today, it's like threading a needle with a bow and arrow at a hundred yards three times. It's impossible."

Manganiello went on to say he was grateful for the whole learning experience: "If I'm a tree, the tree has roots for the first time. It's not gonna blow away. I know what it is and I know who the people were that were involved, and I know where I came from. It's really about understanding what I am a part of instead of wondering. This is one of the great gifts of my life."

Joe Manganiello once voiced a sex toy

Take a look at Joe Manganiello's IMDB page and you'll notice a curious entry in-between his role as bully Flash Thompson in "Spider-Man" and his return to showbiz in hit procedural "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation". Indeed, 2002's "The Ketchup King" is a short film in which the muscle man voices a character named Black Dildo.

And this isn't just a risque nickname, either. The character in question is indeed a puppet shaped like a black sex toy, and one who gets into a fight with his girlfriend who, of course, is named White Dildo. Hey, we all have to start somewhere.

If you're wondering what the film, which apparently cost $250,000, is all about, then "The Ketchup King" refers to the play that a Mafia boss' nephew writes about leaving the world of crime behind. But the manager of the venue staging the production believes that the story is simply an allegory for coming out as a member of the LGBTQ community. If you fancy seeing what all the madness is about, then the movie is on YouTube, with Manganiello's dildo creation rocking up around the 55-minute mark.

Joe Manganiello didn't waste any time with Sofia Vergara

It's fair to say that Joe Manganiello didn't waste any time in his attempts to ensnare his future wife — and sadly soon-to-be future ex-wife — Sofia Vergara. He made his move on the "Modern Family" actor pretty much the moment she split from her first husband Nick Loeb.

And in an interview with Cosmopolitan, the "Moonhaven" star revealed that he roped in one of Vergara's colleagues to help in his mission: "I was on a press tour when I found out Sofia was single. My friend is an editor and told me she was about to make the announcement. I got her number from Jesse Tyler Ferguson, then flew to New Orleans to take her on a date."

Manganiello's opportunistic approach must have paid off. By the end of that same year, he and Vergara had announced their engagement. And within 12 months they'd walked down the aisle at a ceremony in Florida's Palm Beach. But in 2023, the Pittsburgh native filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences.

Joe Manganiello did a My Name Is Earl

Joe Manganiello has always been refreshingly open about the dark period in his life when he battled substance abuse. But in a 2013 interview with SPLASH magazine (via MailOnline), the "Sabotage" star disclosed for the first time that he'd essentially taken cues from repentance-based sitcom "My Name Is Earl."

Referring to the specific day he realized he needed to get sober — August 26, 2002 — Manganiello said, "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."

And part of Manganiello's recovery plan was to make amends for the hurt he'd caused on an individual basis. He added, "I had to clean up my mess, not just put my head in the sand and walk away from it. I tracked down everybody I'd done damage to and tried to make up for it. It didn't happen quickly — if you walk five miles into the woods, you have to walk five miles back out." The actor's karmic approach seemed to do the trick as he hasn't touched a drop of alcohol since.