Joe Manganiello is one heckuva long name. But just say Owen and One Tree Hill fans know exactly who he is. Manganiello’s credits also include Spider-Man, How I Met Your Mother, American Heiress, ER, Til Death and Behind Enemy Lines: Columbia.
Manganiello spoke with me about Owen’s future in Tree Hill, his memories from the set and his upcoming projects.
TeenDramaWhore: What was the audition process like for One Tree Hill? Did you have any idea at the time that Owen would go on to appear in more than just a few episodes?
Joe Manganiello: I auditioned against 20-30 guys. They called me in to read twice and then let me know I got it. They sent me three scripts at once so I knew I would be around for at least that long… -but- the first director I worked with was a complete asshole to me… He came up to me after the first take of my first scene on my first day of shooting and started the most disrespectful things any director has ever said to me… I’ve never been talked to like that at work and I’ve worked on really dense classical material with Moscow art theatre directors… I mean here we are doing a simple flirting scene between Brooke and Owen and this jerk doesn’t even pull me aside… He walks up to me in earshot of the rest of the crew and says… “who hired you?” to which I replied… “the show creator Mark Schwahn and the producer Joe Davola.” “in LA?” “yes.” “did you do that?” “well, we didn’t do that scene in the audition but yeah… that’s pretty much what I did…” He then proceeded to lecture me on what he thinks bartenders are like for several minutes until I interrupted him and suggested that “maybe I could smile more… how would that be?” “yeah, okay… try that…” It was brutal… I was a bartender when I was younger… I worked in bars and clubs from the time I was 16 years old… And I’ve been flirting with pretty girls since long before that… How far off the mark was I??? It took everything in me to not punch this old guy in the face… But I kept my mouth shut and put my head down and did the scene… And I’ve been on the show ever since… That one scene turned into 12 episodes and would have probably been more if I didn’t leave to shoot “Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia.”
TDW: Do you have a favorite scene or storyline from your time on the show?
Manganiello: I loved “Browen” and acting with Sophia Bush [Brooke]… I thought that there was a lot of chemistry in our relationship and I was excited to see what would have happened if we had a kid together.
TDW: Two of your most memorable scenes, I think, are when you rescued Rachel (Danneel Harris) and when you surprised Brooke in her car. In the former, it was the first time we saw depth and range in your character. In the latter, well, nudity is always noteworthy and it was repetition of a motif used throughout the series. What did you think of those scenes when you read the script, filmed them and/or watched them on TV?
Manganiello: The nudity in the back of the car made me nervous [ed note: episode 6.9, Sympathy for the Devil] … But I’ve found that if I get nervous… Then it’s usually going to be a good scene… I was in a play in new york where I was full frontal nude and it was intense… I also did a show about my life in college in which I started out naked in the Terminator pose while heavy metal was blazing through these speakers… So I’m no stranger to it… But it sure does get your heart pounding… That coupled with the fact that a bunch of fans hung out across the street and were taking pictures with their camera phones made for an interesting morning of filming… But I must say… I loved the end product… I thought that that scene was hilarious… I thought that the “Browen” relationship brought some much needed laughter to an otherwise extremely dark season six.
TDW: Were you familiar with Slamball before it was written into the script? What was it like shooting those scenes?
Manganiello: I knew that Slamball had existed but I didn’t understand the rules and didn’t realize that it was a professional league and had been around for as long as it had… I had two weeks of training before we started shooting and four days in I pulled a muscle next to my spine. I thought that because of the level of pain that I was in that I had cracked a vertebrae. I mean, it hurt to lay down. It was really scary. I was in so much pain. My poor girlfriend at the time was really scared. She didn’t know what to do… I went in for an MRI and I was prepared for the worst but they found that it was just a pulled muscle and would heal completely. They put me on some high powered anti-inflamatory pills and I got back in there just in time to film the scenes… The actual shooting days were extremely long and grueling. A lot of my action involved getting a full head of steam and colliding with guys who were all-American college linebackers. I can only describe it like repeatedly recreating a car crash for 16 hours every day. Oh, the things I do for my art…
TDW: Owen’s storyline was left a bit open-ended. He slept with Millicent (Lisa Goldstein) and then we haven’t seen him since really. Do you think he’ll be back?
Manganiello: Mark said he would… I’m just not sure how, for how long, or in what capacity… But if it were up to me I’d come back right now.
TDW: In another interview you’ve done, you mentioned you filmed a scene where Brooke and Owen ended up together. Can you tell me more about that?
Manganiello: Not much more to tell… Owen and Brooke were originally scripted to wind up together and we shot those scenes but the producers had other plans for them and had us reshoot a different plot…
TDW:You have a big on-line presence, especially with your fans on Facebook. In years past you weren’t able to do that. What’s it been like interacting with your fans so much?
Manganiello: It’s been a blast… I love my fans!!!
TDW: Are you still in touch with any of the OTH cast members?
Manganiello: I keep in touch with Sophia and James [Lafferty, Nathan] and Mark and Joe… And I hang out with Robbie [Jones, Quentin] in LA.
TDW: What upcoming projects do you have?
Manganiello: I just pitched a movie to Lionsgate that I am writing and will produce and star in… So that’s exciting… And I can’t officially announce it yet but I just received word that I will be returning to one of the three shows that I recur on…
TDW: Lastly, just for fun, describe Owen in three words and describe yourself in three words.
Manganiello: For both: strong, grounded, sensitive…
Come back next Sunday for another exclusive interview!