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Magic Mike’s Joe Manganiello embarks on Pee-wee’s Big Holiday for Netflix.

FACE FORWARD
Joe Manganiello’s new Netflix movie, Pee-wee’s Big Holiday, premieres March 17.

A friendship between Pee-wee Herman­—played by Paul Reubens—and Joe Manganiello seems hard to imagine, but to the True Blood and Magic Mike actor, it’s a dream come true. “Yes, I am one of the legions of Pee-wee Herman fans that can quote movies backwards and forwards,” confesses Manganiello. A chance encounter with Reubens at an Emmy party led to a real-life friendship between the actors, and when the comedian decided on a comeback for Pee-wee, he called up his buddy. “Paul said, ‘I wrote this great part. Please, please, please, do this for me.’ I was like, ‘I don’t even need to read it. I’ll do whatever you want.’”

In Pee-wee’s Big Holiday, the original Netflix movie produced by Judd Apatow, Manganiello plays himself, proving that in addition to a god-like physique, the actor also has a healthy sense of humor. “I mean, have you seen Magic Mike XXL? It’s hard to take yourself seriously,” he points out with a chuckle. But if you really want to make Manganiello squirm, compliment his ability to laugh at his sexy image. “It’s not like I was built like that my whole life or even my whole career,” he says. “It was just…that was what the role required.”

The 39-year-old intends for the next phase of his career to require more of him than great pecs, as he tackles running his own production company. “I think that, as an actor, as an artist, you want to be able to put your heart into something,” he says.

Professionally, Manganiello may be seeking passion projects, but in his private life, his heart has all it wants in Modern Family actress Sofia Vergara, whom he married in November of last year. “Meeting her and, certainly, getting married put a lot of things about life in perspective, in a good way,” he says. “My family life and love are the things that make me happiest and most fulfilled. And it’s just an anchoring feeling to have that.” Sounds like for Manganiello, dreams coming true is par for the course.

MANGANIELLO'S HOTS
My wife’s hot, of course; Downton Abbey every Sunday; art gallery openings; the Steelers

MANGANIELLO'S NOTS
People that talk on their phone at the gym; drivers who don’t use their turn signals; having my picture taken; paparazzi