Thirty-four years ago, the Smiths broke up — and fans have been bummed about it ever since.
Now, in the new film “Shoplifters of the World” (in theaters and On demand Friday), Joe Manganiello plays one of them. As radio DJ Full Metal Mickey, he is among the devastated music fans who have to cope with the soul-crushing split of the British mope-rockers in the summer of 1987.
But in real life, the former “True Blood” hunk — who is also one of the movie’s producers — has very little to brood about.
Here, Manganiello, 44, dishes on his headbanging secrets, his villainous role in “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” and his sweet fifth-anniversary surprise for wife Sofia Vergara.
Do you remember when the Smiths broke up?
No. I was, like, 10 years old when they broke up. I [discovered] the Smiths a little bit later than that, when I was in high school, once I started hanging around with the theater kids. I think “Girlfriend in a Coma” was the first Smiths song I heard when I was introduced to them on a mixtape. You hear the guitar and you think, “Oh, OK, this is gonna be some happy pop song,” and then [Morrissey] starts singing about killing this person in a hospital bed. He’s such a master of feeding you melancholy but doing it in a way that you’re laughing while it’s happening.
Was there any band that you were obsessed with when you were in your late teens, like the kids in the movie?
I had a tape of Metallica’s “Ride the Lightning” that I listened to on repeat for I think 18 [or] 19 months straight. And then I realized, “Oh, Metallica has other albums too,” and so I went and got “Master of Puppets” and “Kill ’em All” and “… And Justice for All.” And then my first concert was Pantera, Sepultura and Biohazard, so much like my character, I was very much into metal of the time.
Is there one song that still always makes you rock out?
Well, I went to Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne and asked them if I could use “Bark at the Moon” to introduce my character, so that’s definitely one of those songs.
You play Deathstroke in the new “Justice League” movie. What did you think of Zack Snyder’s director’s cut?
It’s an epic. I’m really glad that it exists. I’m so glad that the fans really made it happen. It was really fun to put the armor back on and get back in there. It was cool to be officially invited to be a part of Zack’s universe. I think a lot of people don’t realize that I wasn’t officially a part of [the 2017] “Justice League.” Yes, I was a part of the end credits scene, but I was cast to play the villain in “Batman,” so they were going to debut my character and tease our “Batman” movie at the end of “Justice League.” And when “Batman” was canceled, that scene was then reworked at the last minute to advertise the “Justice League 2” film that of course didn’t happen.
So what do you think about them doing a “True Blood” reboot without the original cast?
I mean … I don’t know. I don’t know what their take is. I don’t really know anything about it. But I could not have worked with a more brilliant cast than I did on “True Blood.” I’m very proud of what we did, and I always think back on it fondly.
You and Sofia had your fifth wedding anniversary last November. How did you celebrate in the middle of a pandemic?
She made picnic baskets, and we went and had a picnic outdoors. And then I surprised her with a New Orleans beignet truck. I courted her in New Orleans.
Is there any music that you love that she hates?
[Laughs.] When I turn on Tool or Metallica while I’m working out, she calls it my devil music!