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Odd Couple: Thomas Lennon on becoming “best friends” with Joe Manganiello


(NEW YORK) — Though he may be built like an all-star high school jock, as evidenced in Magic Mike and Zack Snyder’s Justice League, Joe Manganiello actually digs things traditionally liked by guys of his age whom a jock might have stuffed inside their locker.

Manganiello hosts a regular Dungeons & Dragons game, for one thing. He’s also a huge fan of the influential English band The Smiths — so much so, in fact, that he produced and stars in Shoplifters of the World, a new film in which he plays a metal head DJ forced at gunpoint to play The Smiths on the day the band broke up in 1987.

Veteran character actor Tom Lennon admits he judged the book by its cover, too, when he and Manganiello met on the set of 2012’s box-office dud What to Expect When You’re Expecting.

“[M]y first day on the movie and I’m like, ‘I don’t know if me and this guy are going to be friends,"” Lennon recalls.  “He’s six-seven..300 pounds of solid muscle. He doesn’t even drink water some days, Just so he can be extra yoked.”

“Cut to about 20 minutes later. We are best friends,” Lennon continues. “And I think a big reason for that was we very quickly learned that we both…treat The Smiths almost like a religion, basically.”

He adds, “That’s sort of how I came into the picture was Joe Manganiello just sitting here in Atlanta while we’re making that movie that everybody loved so much (laughs) What to Expect When You’re Expecting — what you didn’t see is all the downtime is Joe doing chin ups and me eating pizza pockets right next to him talking about The Smiths all day long. That’s what was really happening on that picture.”

Lennon, whom Joe recruited to play a record store owner in the movie, admits his Smiths fandom goes deep. “I have a Wikipedia page…I wrote some movies and I was in some movies, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Who cares? When you get into the part of my Wikipedia page that I’m super proud of…it says ‘Thomas Lennon is close friends with Weird Al Yankovic and he occasionally plays guitar in the Sweet and Tender Hooligans, a tribute to Morrissey and the Smiths."” 

As far of the plot of Shoplifters of the World, Lennon offers, “Whether it’s a true story or not, I don’t know if that’s ever been really corroborated. I know Morrissey always says it’s a true story, always.”

Featuring 20 Smiths songs, the film that also stars Boyhood lead Ellar Coltrane and Helena Howard is now available on demand.

By Stephen Iervolino
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