True Blood Season 5 Finale Recap: Joe Manganiello, Most Underrated in Bon Temps and America

Joe Manganiello has the acting credentials to play Elizabethan theater, as well as an imposing physique that Magic Mike’s director Steven Soderbergh described as “a walking CGI." And that’s the problem.

Known for his role as friend-zoned werewolf Alcide Herveaux on HBO’s True Blood, Manganiello is a dilemma for a Hollywood used to cast its talent according to strict and mutually exclusive labels.

In the case of “Alcide,” who rose to prominence in the Magic Mike era of MSO (male sexual objectification), his 6’6”/250-pound washboard abs frame has been both a curse and a blessing – as it has opened some doors while potentially closing others.

This classically trained film and theatre actor, who holds a BFA in acting from the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama, mirrors almost perfectly the part he plays in HBO’s popular vampire/werewolf fantasy drama: an imposing yet low key underdog hopelessly in love – and friend-zoned – by main character Sookie (Ana Paquin) -- who only needs him occasionally to save her from trouble and safely transport her from vampire-infested swamps to fairy-populated enchanted forests.

And, as another season of True Blood nears its end, amid tired plots of religious fanatic vampires and spellbound U.S. veterans (yes, it’s become that absurd), the audience is left with the same question every time an episode ends: where is Alcide, and why isn’t there anymore of him? 

And the same goes for Manganiello’s scarce appearances on the big screen. Most audience members were surprised to find that, despite a high profile promotional presence on the road to Magic Mike’s release, “Big Dick Richie” (Manganiello’s role in Sorderberg’s male stripper drama) was ironically a small and limp role -- compared to the ones played by Channing Tatum, Matthew McConauguey, and others who actually had the chance to act (in addition to strip).

Similarly, Manganiello missed out on the opportunity to play Superman in Christopher Nolan-produced Man of Steel as well as in a tentative reboot of Batman, following the successful Dark Knight Rises. Additionally, the Pittsburgh native, who was initially touted as a potential cast to play Christian Grey in the much anticipated film version of Fifty Shades of Grey, has fallen to a long shot (at best) for the role. Has showing too much skin in the short run affected Manganiello’s career in the long one? Only time will tell.