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'True Blood' hunk on landing Alcide: 'I started crying'

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Now that you’ve had a few weeks to get used to the idea of Joe Manganiello in the role of Alcide, it’s time to get to know the man behind True Blood‘s newest monster. In Part 1 of an exclusive two-part Q&A, the One Tree Hill hunk opens up about the phone call that changed his life, the childhood incident that foreshadowed his casting, and the punishing “werewolf workout” that will turn him into a half-human beast.

How did you find out that you won the role?

JOE MANGANIELLO: I had three meetings with Alan Ball. [After the last one], I got a call from my agent and manager. And whenever you get a call from your agent and manager, you have a pretty good idea that something good is about to happen.

What was your reaction when they told you?

MANGANIELLO: I’m not afraid to admit that I started crying. I was just so excited. It’s a dream come true. When I was a little kid, the nun at my elementary school said if you pray for something hard enough, it’ll happen. And I would pray every day with all of my heart that God would turn me into a werewolf. And when it didn’t happen, I kind of thought, “You know what? Maybe this stuff doesn’t work. Maybe I’m getting gypped.” So here it is 25 years later and my prayers got answered and I’m going to be a werewolf.

What was it about being a werewolf that appealed to you?

MANGANIELLO: I just loved Halloween. When I was 4, my mother dressed me up as a vampire and brought me to a haunted house. When I think about it now, bringing a 4-year-old kid to a haunted house is pretty intense. There was a vampire in the haunted house that jumped out of a coffin and I went up and tried to climb into the coffin with him. He wound up picking me up and putting me in the coffin with him and closing the lid. I [just] always liked monsters. There was something interesting about having this thing inside of you that you can’t control that comes out when you get angry. There’s something cathartic about the idea of having a beast inside you.

Are you a fan of the show?

MANGANIELLO: Huge fan. I’ve seen every episode.

Have you met Anna Paquin yet?

MANGANIELLO: Not yet. They wanted me to read with her. That was going to be my final audition, a chemistry read with Anna. But she wasn’t available so they had me come in by myself… I think it’s going to be great. I’ve seen a ton of her movies going all the way back to The Piano. I’m excited.

When do you start shooting?

MANGANIELLO: Late January, so I’ve got some time. Every day right now is all about the Werewolf Workout. It consists of Krav Maga, which is an Israeli fighting technique, and Cross Fit, which is kind of a gnarly crazy high-intensity workout. And I’m doing a little bit of weights in between.

Was this something Alan Ball asked you to do?

MANGANIELLO: No. This is something I wanted to do on my own. I’m a big guy to begin with; I work out a lot anyway. In my mind, I see the character as having a big chest, big arms — ripped the way an animal would be. Vampires have a supernatural strength to them, so you can have a vampire that is a little slighter. But a werewolf is this big, powerful, half man, half animal. I want to get as close to that as I possibly can.

Wait, there’s more! In the second part of my Q&A, Manganiello tackles the hottest topics of all: How will Alan Ball’s Alcide differ from Charlaine Harris’ Alcide? How long is he committed to True Blood for? And should Sookie-Bill and Sookie-Eric fans be worried? Look for those answers (and more!) tomorrow morning!

Photo Credit: John M. Heller/Getty Images