We're not sex symbols

Joe Manganiello oozes sex appeal, on screen and off.

During the press junket at The London West Hollywood hotel for his latest comedy-drama Magic Mike XXL, his biceps were bursting out of his short-sleeved button-down shirt and he looked just as hot as his shirtless werewolf character Alcide Herveaux from the vampire TV series True Blood.

The 38-year-old US actor's salt-and-pepper hair was tousled and the colour scheme continued with his facial fuzz, giving him a rugged look that would bring many women to their knees.

But they can also weep while they are at it, as the hunky 1.96m-tall Manganiello is engaged to the equally smokin' Colombian actress Sofia Vergara, 42, after five months of dating.

For now, he is reprising his role as well-endowed stripper Big Dick Richie and showing off more of his sexy moves for the highly anticipated Magic Mike sequel, which opens here on July 9.

Let's just get it out of the way - what's it like to be a sex symbol?

I wouldn't know. I am just a male stripper who likes to have a good time. (Laughs)

Sofia is a sex symbol too. Is there any rivalry between the two of you when it comes to who's sexier?

We don't think about each other in those terms. What makes this relationship work is that we are very grounded people.

I pride myself in being this very stable and down-to-earth guy from Pittsburgh. I have a crazy life and a crazy job.

And I was surprised how grounded and just normal she was when we first met. That made me fall in love with her.

That's what glues us together. We are two kids trying to carve up some time to be normal.

You're about to marry one of Hollywood's hottest women. That's quite a gene pool you are mixing there!

(Laughs) Yeah, I am so happy, I can't tell you.

I was at the Vanity Fair Oscar party a while ago, and Sofia and I were sitting at this table with people like (music producer) Rick Rubin, (business magnate) Elon Musk and others.

I was looking around and was thinking, "How did we get at the genius table? What the hell am I a genius at?"

And then I thought, "Oh, yeah, dating!"

So did you practise your movie moves on Sophia at home?

She was on the set when we were filming.

And of course, I danced every stripper routine for her when I came home. She loved it. And I enjoyed it as well, to be honest.

Your character's big finale involved a marriage proposal and a small wedding re-enactment. Was it something that was leading up to your real-life proposal to Sofia?

Yes, but that was before I proposed to her last December.

That was actually (Matt Bomer's character) Ken's dance, but since they made (Bomer) sing instead, it made sense for Richie since he was looking for that "glass slipper".

But I knew I'd propose at that point. I mean, I knew I wanted to marry her on our second date.

Were the dance routines easier to master this time around?

They were bigger and better. It's XXL, it all had to be bigger and better.

We explored new boundaries in this film. The first time I had to wear a G-string, I was embarrassed. But going into this movie, it didn't bother me at all.

Does it help to feel more comfortable naked when you do this?

Of course it does. That's why you hit the gym so much. There is vanity involved, you want to look good on camera.

Do people require you to be in shape all the time now when they want to hire you for a role?

I was getting naked on TV shows long before I got naked in Magic Mike. I look at this in a very practical way. It is what it is, I do what is required of me. And it doesn't bother me a bit.

Do you ever feel that you're often typecast because of your appearance?

I should be so lucky. I mean, I worked my ass off to be typecast and that has opened doors for me.

I'll be able to work for another 20 years in these types of roles because of my appearance.

But on the (flip side), 20 years ago I started off in classical theatre and that's always going to be there for me no matter what I look like.

I'm at the starting line of my film career and it's all about finding great, complex male roles.

This article was first published on July 1, 2015.
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