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Joe Manganiello, who is still fresh in our memory in his fire fighter’s uniform from Magic Mike, succeeded in a transformation for the actioner Sabotage. The sexy hunk became a scary gangster-looking undercover agent. He talked about that transformation and his dream come true in working with his idol, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Q: Tell us, how was it working with Arnold?
I had a poster of Arnold and all the other Mr. Olympias on my wall as a kid, those old Art Zeller pictures out at Mussel Rock. I had seen every movie. I had 10, 20 minute conversations with my brother in Arnold’s voice, doing all of his movie lines without breaking character [laughs]. The reason I picked up a weight and ever started bodybuilding was because of Arnold. The reason I ever dreamed in my head, pipe dream, that maybe someday I would be an action hero in a movie was because of Arnold. Yeah, it was a bit daunting at first. There was in that scene in The Terminator when he’s going through what he should say to the landlord, it was like basically in my mind, it was just like, “Don’t do something stupid. Don’t be an idiot.” But Arnold has become one of my best friends. You couldn’t wish to have a better friend in the world. When you look at one person and the influence they can have on the world, it really showed me that nothing is impossible and that I can dream as big as I want. So it’s been really just inspirational and motivational just to be around this guy.
Q: Can you talk about the look of your character?
I’d read a book a few years ago called No Angel, which is the story of a former college football player who joined the ATF and then infiltrated the Hell’s Angels as a full patch member. The pictures of this guy were just this thick-necked linebacker looking, covered in tattoos. He looked like the scariest guy on the planet and not like a cop. So I always clocked that. One of the things that really struck me about Training Day was you see Denzel walk out with his bling and get in his low rider and you think, “He looks like a gangster,” and that’s the point. Undercovers, they look like the guys they’re chasing after. So I always kept that in the back of my mind. Then when I got cast in the role, I started thinking about that neck down tattooed look. I turned to my trainer and I said, “I want to be linebacker big, like scary big, that guy in the bar you don’t want to spill a beer on.” I had that all in the back of my mind. And I wound up in Chicago backstage at a Black Sabbath concert with the Osbourne family, and Ozzy’s new drummer had these cornrows and this big beard and covered in tattoos. I thought, “You would never think that guy was a cop.” Then I wound up working closely with an undercover narcotics agent and he showed me some pictures of him with cornrows and I thought, “Okay, let’s try this out.” I had a friend of mine do it to my hair and I came into the training facility and everybody just stared at me [laughs]. I think Terrence said, “Man, you look like a shark with a gun in your hand.” Somebody else said, “You’re going to turn that corner and somebody’s just going to drop the bags of meth and leave.” And I thought, “All right, I’m onto something.” I ran it by David and he was down with it.
Sabotage opens March 28th.