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Joe Manganiello: From Researching a Role to Building a ‘Deathstroke’ Standalone Film



When Joe Manganiello’s not dungeon mastering celebrity Dungeons & Dragons campaigns, apparently he also does a considerable amount of backstory writing for a certain Deathstroke role.

Before Ben Affleck stepped away from directing The Batman and Matt Reeves came on-board and rewrote the script, Manganiello was set to play DC Comics villain, Deathstroke, and during that time he put the same level of nerd thought required to dungeon mastering into writing 16 pages of backstory for the character.

A couple of weeks ago, Manganiello returned to nerd mogul, Chris Hardwick’s ID10T podcast (formerly Nerdist), to promote his latest film Rampage and he talked about the role of DC Comics’ Slade Wilson, a.k.a., “The Terminator,” a.k.a., Deathstroke. He opened up about all the work that went into prepping for the role, and how it led to discussions with Gareth Evans to direct a standalone Deathstroke film.

“This is a real opportunity to figure out who this guy is on the inside. Like what he’s battling with…There are villains who are the people who are opposing them but from the inside, this is a person who is struggling with all types of things. I think it’s really interesting to tell that kind of a story and tell the truth emotionally of a story like that when you’re talking about a man who lost an eye, was betrayed, lost a son. These different types of aspects.”

After Manganiello began prepping, Ben Affleck then stepped down from directing The Batman, putting the movie on hold. This news, however, didn’t deter Manganiello from digging deeper into the character and building a new Deathstroke solo project. From a single photo of Manganiello the man, you know he’s no stranger to physical training. And, training to be a real live terminator isn’t your typical 3 days a week at LA Fitness. The character of Deathstroke a lethal combination of advanced military and sword-wielding ninja.

“Then you couple that with real-world military training. Then I started training at like a Ninjutsu dojo and started learning sword fighting. Started learning and understanding where those techniques come from. All the sudden this thing starts writing itself.”

“What I love doing is in an instance like that I’m able to, at the ground level, I’m able to go back and pitch all of my work. So I’m pitching them: “This is where I think he comes from. This is where I think he’s going. This is the military background. These are some articles that I pulled for you. I also interviewed these people over here.”

“Somewhere along that way I know that it was announced where the studio… there was talks with Gareth Evans and talks about an origin movie. I’m not giving news. I spent six months prior to all of those phone calls writing a backstory that was turned into sixteen pages which got turned into a treatment which then led to my Skype call with Gareth.”

Manganiello has ended up singlehandedly contributing to a whole new set of opportunities for himself as Deathstroke. Opportunities that he was smart enough and ambitious enough to pursue and eventually pitch. All because he sat down and did his acting homework (and more Ninjitsu training than most humans would ever bother pursuing).


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