Joe Manganiello is one sexy beast on "True Blood."
The imposing actor plays Alcide Herveaux, the werewolf packmaster with a ripped physique and sensitive soul. Introduced in Season 3, Alcide quickly became a fan favourite as he dealt with vampires, crushed on Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) and ran around naked. "True Blood" kicks off its seventh and last season on June 22.
Manganiello spoke to HuffPost Canada TV about Alcide's relationship with Sookie, the end of "True Blood" and how the series has impacted his life.
HuffPost Canada TV: When you signed on to "True Blood," did you ever imagine the role would last this long?
Joe Manganiello: No, I was signed for six episodes as a guest star. I saw all the other cast members around me that came on Season 3 signed as regulars, so I was the only one who didn't have an extended contract. I said, "OK, I'm going to make the most out of this." My understanding was there was no long-term plan for me. Doing the math, I have to thank the fans for being so supportive of my character. It forced the show to figure out what to do with me.
Were you surprised when they announced this would be "True Blood"s final season?
We had an idea, even back at the end of season five. Alan [Ball] was getting ready to leave as showrunner. There were a lot of rumblings over how much longer the show was going to go. We knew it was going to go longer than Season 5 because of the way that season ended. They needed to finish it up. At that point, it was whether it was going to finish in Season 6 or 7. We all knew it was going to go into 6, and then during 6, we were wondering if it was going to wrap in Season 7. Executive producer Brian Bruckner did such a good job keeping the show moving, but creatively I think they wanted to go seven seasons. I think that was their plan from the beginning.
The Season 6 premiere featured a naked Alcide hooking up with two female werewolves at once. How does this year's premiere top that?
With three werewolves. No, I don't think Alcide ever aspired to be Wilt Chamberlain. It certainly looked like it was going to go in that direction in Season 6. How do you top that? He's with the love of his life. He finally gets the girl at the end of Season 6. The one he's been pining after. The one he's in love with. How do you top two girls at once? With one girl that he's in love with.
Alcide has waited patiently for Sookie. Were you like, "It's about freaking time?"
Absolutely. It's about time. Of course, as soon as he gets her, now the show is going to end. I'm glad he got to go there. There were a lot of fans who wanted to see it happen, so I am glad it did.
Give us the sales pitch. Why is Alcide better suited for Sookie than Bill (Stephen Moyer) or Eric (Alexander Skarsgard)?
Well, he's never stabbed her in the back. He's never had ulterior motives. He's a simple man and when I say simple, I don't mean mentally by any stretch. He's simple in a blue-collar way. Alcide loves Sookie. He'd die for her. He'd do anything for her. He's this big, strong, protective man-wolf who also has this sensitive side. What woman wouldn't go for that?
Aside from that, there was an interview where author Charlaine Harris was asked, "What super-powered character in her books would she like to marry or wind up with?" She said, "A werewolf, because you get all the benefits of being with a super-powered man. You don't have to wake up to cold feet in the morning the way you do with a vampire."
The teaser trailer makes it seem like Alcide and Bill are going to fight over Sookie. Is Alcide beyond taking crap from anyone?
Yeah, he's done with that. But, as we saw in the finale of Season 6, Bill steps up. Like any boyfriend in that situation, where the ex-boyfriend comes sniffing around for the girl, Alcide was like, "OK, let's see how she handles it." And she certainly handled it in that moment. Sookie spoke her feelings and let it be known that she's going home with Alcide. Bill and Alcide have been fighting over Sookie since they met each other. This is nothing new.
On a regular basis, there have been vampires, werewolves, fairies and witches in Louisiana. What makes the Hep-V infected fangers such a big threat?
It's such a global problem. It goes beyond Bon Temps. It's thrown the world into chaos from the top to the bottom, from the politicians and military and law enforcement, down to the local townspeople. The genius of it is it forces the show in its final season to be about Bon Temps rather than the rest of the world. That's been a long time coming on the show. The show got so big at one point, with so many different storylines. I think it's going to be a real treat for the fans for the show to get small again.
Last season, Alcide was the lone wolf off dealing with his pack problems. How was it interacting with some of the other characters and being part of the main storyline?
It was great. I missed everybody. I was off on werewolf island for a couple of years. It's nice to come back and see everybody, work with them and hang out. Chris Bauer, Sam Trammell, Ryan Kwanten, Stephen and Anna ... these are my friends and I missed seeing them at work. When the show got really big, you could get a feeling you are not even part of the show anymore. It's almost like you're on this off-shoot of the show. It was nice to come back for the final season and be back with the people that I was working with in the beginning.
What are your thoughts on "True Blood"s series finale and where Alcide ends up?
I am really interested to see how fans react. It's satisfying for all the fans. I think there's going to be an explosion online once it happens. All the storylines going back to Season 1 wind up being resolved. I think it's going to be satisfying and nostalgic and definitely controversial.
Obviously, you are going to miss the cast and characters. Is there anything you aren't going to miss?
Yeah, being naked, laying on the ground in Malibu in December. It dipped below 20 degrees two nights in a row. It's not uncommon for it be in the 20s and 30s. You're naked, barefoot, laying on the ground and trying to act sexy when it's freezing. I'm definitely not going to miss that.
What do you feel "True Blood"s legacy will be?
It changed TV forever. You see all these shows that are trying to profit. There just wasn't a show that was as sexy or took things as far in terms of shock value as our show did. I say that because it was also something culturally significant. We're entering into a world where we're finally getting marriage equality across the board. That was a topic back in Season 1, which was six years ago. Six years ago, that was impossible and wasn't happening, and now it is. I think the show was instrumental in making a societal change in that direction.
Finally, what has "True Blood" done for you and your career?
Geez, I've been acting for 21 years now. Most people only know my work from the past four years. That's because of "True Blood." It shined a spotlight on me and gave me recognition. It gave me a film career past the show. It gave me my production company. We're getting ready to launch our first film. We have a whole slate of projects coming. That wouldn't have been possible. I'm a published author now, with a series of books in the works. It's made all of my dreams possible. It came at a time when I thought none of that was going to happen. It gave me the ability to believe again, to believe anything is possible. I'll be forever grateful. It changed my life 100 percent.
"True Blood" Season 7 premieres on Sunday, June 22 at 9 p.m. ET/MT on HBO Canada and HBO.