Joe Manganiello isn’t cutting any corners in his preparation to play the villain Deathstroke in Ben Affleck’s solo Batman movie.
In fact, he might be ready to cut literally anything else.
The April 2016 Men’s Fitness cover star has the monstrous physique to play the elite assassin, but he was lacking in another area: weapons training. So to prep for his role as the legendary assassin, the already jacked action star doubled up on the dumbbells with a different set of steel: swords, katanas, and knives.
“I started katana training recently,” Manganiello in an interview on the Dragon Talk podcast. “Like live sword training. I started meeting with various martial arts teachers and discussing with them. ‘Ok, so what are the most offensive styles of martial arts?’ Ones where you’re not waiting for someone to attack you but ones where you’re looking to make the attack. Then: ‘What are the most deadly ones? Where are the scrolls, the ancient Japanese scrolls that have these really deadly techniques that you don’t teach to the average student out the street? Something that only somebody who would go looking for it that are really really bad, you know, are dangerous. Like, what are those?'”
Manganiello wanted to get as in-depth as possible when it came to his training, since his character Deathstroke would be well-versed in, well, death: “‘What are the stances?’ What are like some really unorthodox stances that someone who learns say Ninjutsu would stand in?” Manganiello said. “Ok, so now what if that person lost an eye? If that person lost an eye, how would they then alter the stance so that you would have better peripheral vision? What would that look like? So then you start cooking, and then you start building a story. Kind of outside-in. That’s like a very physical way to build a story.”
Even though Deathstroke is playing the villain in The Batman (and possibly Justice League), Manganiello seems him as more of a heroic type.
“In my mind you could say Deathstroke is a villain,” Manganiello said. “But there’s definitely a way to look at him that way, but there’s a way to look at him as an anti-hero or just someone who’s figuring things out in his own way or trying to work something out over the course of this two-hour movie.”
Manganiello is as ripped as anyone in Hollywood—check out these 10 Instagram posts of Manganiello looking like a real-life hero—but if he needs some tips, he can always ask his new Rampage co-star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Manganiello recently joined the film to play the head of a private military group that battles with the three huge monsters—a gorilla, crocodile, and wolf—as they destroy cities across America.
As Manganiello is proving with his Deathstroke training, he’s ready to take on anything Hollywood sends his way.