INTERVIEW: Joe Manganiello, Director & Producer of ‘La Bare’

Posted in Interviews by - July 03, 2014
INTERVIEW: Joe Manganiello, Director & Producer of ‘La Bare’

You may know him as Alcide Herveaux in HBO’s True Blood, as Big Dick Richie in Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike or even more recently on the cover of this week’s People Magazine as Hollywood’s Hottest Bachelor, but once you see Joe Manganiello on-scren or on the cover of a magazine, he is hard to forget. Manganiello has been acting since 2002 and is a true fitness professional. Last year he published a body building book titled “Evolution” and earlier this year he starred opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in Sabotage.

Now in his directorial debut, Manganiello goes behind the curtain at one of the most popular male strip clubs in America. Manganiello documents everything from the dancers’ backgrounds and personal stories to the history of the club and its success and hardship throughout the years.

I spoke to Manganiello one-on-one and we discussed how he conducted all the interviews in the documentary, the difference between working out for a magazine shoot and a TV series, those dance scenes in Magic Mike and of course the last season of True Blood.

La Bare opens in at the Angelika Pop-Up at Union Market for a limited run starting Friday July 4, 2014.

Lauren: First of all congratulations on being named People Magazine’s Hottest Bachelor! That’s pretty amazing.

Joe: Thank you so much!

Lauren: I just watched La Bare last night and I thought it was incredibly informative about the male dancer profession. I thought one of the most interesting points in the film was that male dancers put a lot of showmanship in their performances, with makes them work harder than many female dancers. This was an ongoing theme in the movie and can you talk about why it was important for you to tell that?

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Joe: That was the heart of the movie. This exploration of masculinity in a post-feminist context, most of my career as an actor has been about that. Whether it’s been from How I Met Your Mother to True Blood, it’s like what is it to be a man these days? As much as things have changed, there are some things that are never going to change. Mainly fantasies of men and women, we are just wired the way we are and that is a really fascinating topic.

Lauren: In the film, one of the dancers mentioned that he was working out harder than average because he was preparing for a photo shoot. As an actor and fitness professional, do you find that it’s harder to work out for print (magazine) or for TV and movies?

Joe: Well I think you can go harder for a photo shoot because you don’t have pages of dialogue. (Laughs) For Magic Mike, you had to stay in shape for weeks at a time and sometimes that’s a little tricky. I think it’s easier for a photo shoot than it is for film and TV.

Lauren: Were you the one that conducted all of the interviews in the film?

Joe: Yes, every single one.

Lauren: I love that you interviewed the guys and then cut to a clip of them performing on stage so we could see what they were talking about. When you are producing and making the film, did you have an idea of how you would edit the overall film when it was finished?

Joe: Yes. When you’re on the ground directing, you’re thinking about the footage that you want to have in the editing room. You’re thinking about what B-roll footage you can juxtapose during the interviews. A lot of the times you will get a shot for B-roll and then the next day I would be in an interview and would try to get a comment that would be mix with this B-roll footage we got. Or vice versa. That’s kind of the magic in the electricity of documentary filmmaking. You’re not setting up shots and you have to anticipate where the right place is to have the camera to capture those magical moments and luckily for us we got a lot of those moments.

Lauren: We all know you had a passion for fitness well before you filmed Magic Mike, but after you were done filming that movie, did you have a better appreciation for the male dancers’ work ethic and what they have to do to keep in shape?

Joe: Well, I already knew, I had been on True Blood for years at that point, so I knew. There is no shortcut around it. It all made sense to me, I was no stranger to training at that level, so I knew what it would take.

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Lauren: Which character from Magic Mike would have the most fun and make the most money at La Bare?

Joe: (Laughs) I think all those guys would do well. That was one of the things that drew me to shoot the film at La Bare in Dallas versus some other club in another city. It was very similar to the feel of Magic Mike. All of those guys would fit in there.

Lauren: Well we all know Big Dick Richie (Joe’s character in Magic Mike) would make a lot of tips there!

Joe: (Laughs) I think Big Dick Richie would make a lot of tips anywhere.

Lauren: Now that you’ve made a documentary about an interesting subject, if you were to take your knowledge of filmmaking to True Blood and make a documentary about that show, what angle would you take it from?

Joe: I think the topic that would be most interesting to me would be from page to screen. So I would start with Charlaine Harris and start with her process and where he inspiration and ideas came from. What it was like for her to sit down and write that first book, then to sell it and what the success was like. And then following up to Alan Ball, him reading the book, turning it into a TV show and then pitching it to HBO. Then bringing in the writers room, picking and choosing what to use and what not to use. And then how Charlaine’s books that she wrote after the show was started, if they were influenced at all by the show. That would be something interesting. Just the genesis of this idea and how it became this global cultural phenomenon. 

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