By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD—Matt Bomer and Joe Manganiello go back. Way back. The hunky actors were classmates at Carnegie-Mellon University in the early 2000s, where they were enrolled in the Pennsylvania college’s drama program. After years of formal acting training, they got a chance to perform professionally together in 2012’s male stripper drama “Magic Mike.” The longtime pals now reprise their roles as Ken and Richie, respectively, in the sequel “Magic Mike XXL.”
In this road trip comedy, the guys head from Tampa, Fla., to Myrtle Beach, S.C, to enter a big male stripper contest. Along the way, they meet up with old friends and make some new ones. Manganiello’s character, who has kind of lost his mojo, delivers an unforgettable impromptu striptease at a convenience store that gives him the confidence boost he needs while Bomer’s character gets a chance to show off his singing chops with a rendition of Bryan Adams’ “Heaven,” while performing a striptease before hundreds of adoring women at a private club. Gregory Jacobs directs from a script by Reid Carolin.
Bomer (“The Normal Heart”) and Manganiello (“True Blood”), who is engaged to “Modern Family” actress Sofia Vergara) recently spoke about returning for an encore of sexy onscreen male dancing, their enduring friendship and, for Manganiello, maintaining a “show-must-go-own” spirit after a mishap on set.
Q: What was your favorite part of making the sequel?
Bomer: One of the fun things about doing a road trip movie is everyday was a new adventure. We never stayed in one place for too long: one day we’d be in Donald’s club and I’d be singing free style and we’d get to dance with a bunch of drag queens. It was all an adventure. For me, seeing the Mini Mart scene with Joe (and) seeing the culmination of all those years come to fruition in that moment was so mind-blowing and epic that I just stood behind the camera wanting popcorn and carbohydrates and just thanking God.
Manganiello: I’ve known Matt since he was 18 and we did come up through drama school together. We’ve done (George Bernard) Shaw and (Anton) Chekov and (Williams) Shakespeare and all of that to come up to this moment in our career where during scene one, take one Joe gets naked and cannonballs with Channing into a pool. It’s a crowning achievement. That education paid off. (He laughs.)
Q: What’s the secret of your long-lasting friendship?
Manganiello: Matt is such a humble guy and I feel like sometimes I’m Matt’s agent and I‘m standing behind him saying, “Matt can sing!” We were on part one on night filming in Tampa and Matt was at this karaoke bar and I dared him to sing Bon Jovi’s “Blades of Glory,” and he sang it so hard and hit every note, which is really difficult. A lot of people crash on the rocks of Bon Jovi songs at karaoke bars all over the world but he killed it. He got a free bottle of water. I remember coming back and talking to Channing and Steven (Soderbergh, the executive producer) and saying, “You’ve got to make Matt sing (in the movie).” I’m so happy that the world finally will know what a great singer he is.
Q: “Magic Mike XXL” says a lot about male friendship. There are a lot of nice intimate moments with you guys talking to each other and supporting each other with inspiring words. Can you talk about why it’s important to be a part of the movie?
Bomer: I think it was a natural consequence of how we all felt about each other and I think it was the thing in the first movie and the impetus why there was a story to be had again. You get a group of people in a room and let them play and get to know each other and sometimes magic comes out of that. That’s what happened in the first movie. We all just made friends that we’ll have for the rest of our lives. Through that, and “blowing each other up,” (complimenting each other) as Channing says, there was a lot to be mined there and I think that comes through in the movie. I think it’s the spectacle that gets you in the movie but the humanity to these characters that you actually end up falling in love with.
Q: Were there any accidents with the dance scenes with the extras?
Manganiello: We did have a little mishap during take one of the final routine, which we rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed. My dance partner did something that was unrehearsed that caused me to have a rip and a pop of my bicep. We went in the back and had our all-valley tournament moment. Usually bicep snaps roll up into your shoulder and the arm turns black and caves in, but that didn’t happen so we thought it was a dislocated bone in my arm. The masseuse was trying to work this bone back into my arm. Channing was like, “I’ll move up my routine,” but I was thinking there was no way. I told him, “I’m not going to make it tomorrow. Tomorrow my arm’s not going move. We’ve got to go finish it now.”
I came back out to the set and for the next four and a half hours we did this routine that involves this sex swing and some monkey bars that I have to run and jump onto. My brain wouldn’t let me visualize the jumping. It was trying to stop me, but we made it through and I got pats on the back afterwards with the guys saying, “Bro, that was amazing.” Sofia (Vergara) was there that day and she looked at me and said, “If I see you at the gym tomorrow, we’re done! I’m going to leave you.” So I don’t even think about gyms anymore.