After the stripping numbers (which EW thoroughly dissected with the choreographer, costume designer, and music supervisor when the movie hit theaters last summer), what people probably remember most about Magic Mike is costar Joe Manganiello’s gloriously game, body roll-filled press tour. “There were a lot of moments where I was backstage right after whatever went down lookin’ at my publicist, Lisa [Perkins], like, I’m a classically-trained actor. What the f— am I doing? What are we doing? Please tell me I’m not insane and out of my mind. And Lisa would look at me and just go, ‘You are insane. You are out of your mind. But it’s working,’” Manganiello recalls, laughing. “It was one of those things where I’m either gonna look like the biggest a—hole that’s ever lived, or this is gonna be huge. There’s something magical that’s gonna happen, or I’m never gonna be allowed out of the house again. Thank god it went the way that we hoped.” Here, Manganiello takes us inside his highlights.
For more stories behind this year’s top TV and movie moments, click here for EW.com’s Best of 2012 (Behind the Scenes) coverage.
As told by: Joe Manganiello
1. The MTV Movie Awards
Chan called me up. He’s like, “Dude, me and McConaughey are presenting. You gotta come with us. We gotta do something crazy. We gotta, like, bring you out as a secret weapon.” And I was like, “Okay.” I think MTV was talking about getting me a bow tie and cufflinks, like the Chippendales. And I went, “No, man, come on. That’s lame. I’m not doing that.” And this was the night before — we were gonna present on Sunday, this was Saturday night. I was like, “You get me a fireman’s suit, complete with an axe and the helmet, and I’ll be there.” But all the costume shops are closed on Sunday, so they went to the LA fire department. So I wound up signing a whole bunch of stuff for the LA fire department, and in return, they gave me the real helmet, the real pants and suspenders, and the real axe.
It was hilarious. It was me, Channing, and Matthew backstage. I’ve got no shirt on and this real, f—in’ huge fireman axe I’m throwin’ around, and I’m meeting Oscar winner Charlize Theron, who’s tellin’ me about how they hired a fireman stripper for her mom’s birthday one year. [Laughs] I’m listening, but I’m nervous. MTV’s like, “Yeah, dude, we’ve got Def Leppard’s ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me’ all loaded up, so you’re ready to go.” I was like, “Okay, so you guys will forget the envelope. ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me’ starts blaring, and I’m gonna walk out with the envelope stuffed in my pants, which is the only place I can hide it, with the axe.” They told us ahead of time that Elizabeth Banks won. They’re like, “Dude, you should f—in’ carry her off.” I’m like, “Okay. God bless her, I hope she goes with it.”
Once I got out there, the crowd goes nuts, so I start pumping the axe, and I’m like, I don’t even know if they can show this. I go up [to the mic], swear, and get censored. [Laughs] Then Elizabeth gets called up and McConaughey takes the golden MTV popcorn and sticks it over my crotch. So then I just go into this whole thing, and Elizabeth Banks, god bless her, bends over, so I get behind her. Then I throw the axe to McConaughey, scoop her up, and walk off. I gotta give her a ton of credit. She was the best. She just completely went along with it, and she could’ve shut the whole thing down.
We had no idea how it was gonna go over. Backstage, people were crying laughing. The three of us were holding onto each other just laughing hysterically. That was a gamble, but I grew up watching Jim Carrey show up in his Jim Morrison costume and accept his award, and all that crazy stuff they used to do and haven’t done in recent years. So there was a real feeling for me, Chan, and McConaughey that we were gonna show the young kids how to do it. This is what the MTV Movie Awards are about.
2. The Wendy Williams Show
The first talk show I ever did was Wendy Williams. She was so friendly and complimentary. Wendy just kinda has hot-pants for the guys on her show. So I thought to myself, you know what, I’m gonna go out there and I’m gonna lapdance Wendy Williams. But sure enough, Wendy had set up a contest where someone in the crowd was gonna get a lapdance from me. So I’m literally lapdancing this guest. Wendy had a bunch of dollars printed up with her face on them. I have a stack of Wendy Williams dollars at my house now. So she was makin’ it rain, stuffin’ money in my pants. Then I’m grinding on Wendy and this guest. That was pretty great. What you don’t see is me basically pinning Wendy to the couch crotch to face. [Laughs] They cut away from that. I guess people weren’t allowed to see it at that time of the day.
NEXT: More body rolling in New York, and San Diego
3. The fourth hour of Today with Kathie Lee and Hoda
They just told me, “We want you to kind of dance your way out,” and I go, “Dude, come on, I’m not gonna dance my way out. What does that mean? Am I moonwalking to my chair?” I just walked out, and Kathie Lee and Hoda started pulling out dollars, so it’s like, All right, I guess I’m lapdancing these two. Here we go. Then two girls that worked there came out. Everywhere I went, the girls that worked there would come out. [Laughs] It was kinda funny: I was always met by every girl who worked at whatever these companies were, and they’d be like, “Yeah, lapdance them, too.” It was like whoever’s birthday it was. I think it was after that show that I was in the elevator and turned to my publicist with my head in my hands like, “Am I doing the right thing? Who else can you think of that’s ever done a press tour like this?” It was so far out of the comfort zone. She’s like, “No, trust me. Just keep doing it. Keep doing it.” I’m like, “All right…”
4. Today flash mob with Channing Tatum
Channing called me the night before like, “Hey, I’m doing the Today show tomorrow with Ann Curry and Al Roker. We’re planning this flash mob. Dude, you gotta come and crash it.” I’m like, “All right, man.” Just say yes. “Sure, Chan.” I show up. We get these Magic Mike tank tops on. Chan goes up to talk to Ann and Al, and I’m sneaking through the crowd, crouched down, like military-style, to hide behind this banner. When Ann says, “So Channing, what’s next for you?”, that’s my queue to run out and go, “I’m what’s next, Ann” and start body rolling on her. I’ve been instructed not to touch her. We don’t know how she’d react to that, so just try to keep a little distance between us. So I come running out and start body rolling on Ann. Chan starts laughing. Ann’s face is priceless. She just froze up. I yell over to Al Roker, I’m like, “Al, get the other side!” Al looks at me — I wish I could have taken a picture. I don’t know how to describe it other than frozen terror. It was like this f— you, dude look. [Laughs] All the other dancers finally come running out, and they do this big flash mob, and the rest is history. But, the amazing thing about that was it was Ann’s last full day of work at Today. So the next day, The Wall Street Journal reports on Ann being let go from Today, and, of course, what’s the picture they print of Ann Curry’s last day on the Today show on the front page of The Wall Street Journal? Me body rolling on Ann Curry. So I have that picture from The Wall Street Journal on my desk at home, and I’m gonna get it framed. It was like an evil Forrest Gump, being at the wrong place in history at the wrong time. It was just this combination of wrongs that somehow made this amazing piece of entertainment history. I don’t know how Ann felt about it. She didn’t say anything afterwards. She probably has a hit out on me that I don’t know about. [Laughs] All these people online were writing like, “Man, if I knew that was gonna be my last day, I would lean into that body roll,” which I thought was actually pretty funny.
5. The True Blood panel at Comic-Con
Somebody started asking about Rutina Wesley’s character, Tara, stripping at Fangtasia, and then our moderator, [EW’s] Tim Stack, was like, “Speaking of stripping…” and the crowd was deafening to the point that I just couldn’t hear the rest of Tim’s sentence. They’re egging me on. “Come on, man, do a body roll or something.” I’m like, oh god, really? Okay. I thought I put this behind me. So I stand up and start doing a little body roll action with my jacket. Then Rutina starts body rolling. Then Alan Ball stands on top of his chair and starts body rolling. I run over in back of Alan, take out some dollar bills that I had, and start makin’ it rain over Alan’s head. We turned the whole Comic-Con panel into this stripping extravaganza. It was hilarious.
And then after Comic-Con, we had a big farewell dinner and said our goodbyes to Alan. It was really inspiring and very sweet and very heartfelt. Everyone basically got up and shared memories and said thank you to Alan. Stephen Moyer got up and said, “Alan, I don’t know how I could ever repay you. You’ve changed my life. I don’t know what I could ever do to show you my gratitude, except maybe getting Joe to give you a lapdance.” And he said this jokingly, like ha-ha-ha-ha-ha. And I was like, f— it. So I get up out of my chair [Laughs], walk all the way across this ballroom, and give Alan Ball a lapdance. Everybody was screamin’, and hootin’ and hollerin’. I went back to my seat, and Stephen just looked at me and was like, “You’re insane. I love the fact that you will body roll anyone at any time.”