Joe Manganiello may be a successful TV and movie star these days, but his road to stardom was filled with speed bumps along the way. Appearing on the July/August cover of Men's Health, the 36-year-old actor reveals that his career hit rock bottom after playing Eugene "Flash" Thompson in 2002's Spider-Man.
"About six months after the shoot ended, I got thrown out of my apartment for not paying rent," the Pittsburgh, Pa., native recalls. "Lost my car. Lost all my clothes. Furniture. The sheriff gave me 5 minutes to collect my things in a duffle bag and leave the apartment."
When Manganiello scored a recurring guest role on HBO's True Blood in 2010 (playing werewolf Alcide Herveaux), the actor admits his finances were still in trouble. "All the money I was paid as a guest star that year -- which was not a lot, after I'd paid out my expenses -- I spent on training," says the muscular star. "I netted zero. I lived off my savings, hoping my car didn't break down. I just put everything into seeing what I could actually do. I think that was the shift."
To get in shape for the role -- and to prepare for his many nude scenes -- Manganiello revamped his workout. "It was very fast-paced, no rest between sets, getting the heart rate up," he says of his new fitness routine. Although he didn't test his body fat before or after, Manganiello estimates he lost more than 20 pounds of fat while gaining a few pounds of muscle.
"I'm playing a werewolf," he reasons. "I want to look sinewy. I want to look like an animal when the shirt comes off, but I want it to be a bit misleading when I have the shirt on."
Dieting is not part of Manganiello's regimen, though he does eat healthfully. "I don't think I've ever counted calories in my life," he tells the magazine. "I eat to build. If it doesn't build something, it's superfluous."
Manganiello was upgraded to series regular on True Blood the following year and went on to play a stripper in Magic Mike. He next appears in the movies Ten (opposite his childhood hero, Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Draft Day (costarring Kevin Costner, Tom Welling and Jennifer Garner).
As he continues to make a name for himself in Hollywood, Manganiello hopes to become an inspiration for young actors looking to break into the business. "My heroes back in drama school were the hard-drinking guys -- both actors and rock stars," he tells Men's Health. "But that's not who I was meant to be. I wasn't meant to get away with stuff. It was the universe's way of telling me, 'You're not allowed to do this half-assed.'"