Joe Manganiello Reveals He Almost Got Cast on 'Survivor' as 'Joe the Construction Worker' (Exclusive)

Manganiello tells ET he sent an audition tape to a 'Survivor' casting director and sold himself as Joe from Pittsburgh.

Somewhere deep in the heart of Hollywood there's an old DVD -- perhaps covered in a thick layer of dust -- that exists, showing Joe Manganiello auditioning to be on Survivor. Manganiello never got to be on the storied reality competition, but he definitely gave it a shot.

Ahead of debuting as host of Deal or No Deal Island, the 47-year-old actor sat down with ET's Cassie DiLaura to talk about when and why he auditioned to be on Survivor. He also shared why he thinks the new NBC game show -- a captivating spin on the iconic game show originally hosted by Howie Mandel -- will be a hit.

But first, Survivor?!

"So, years ago. Long, long, long, long, long time ago I was at some pool party somewhere," Manganiello explains. "And I met someone who was casting for Survivor when it first came out. I was like, 'I could win.' And they were like, 'Oh, really? Why don't you make a tape?' And it was summer. I was working construction to pay the bills."

Suffice it to say, the True Blood star never got cast to be on the iconic show. And, in some respects, it had something to do with his skills.

"They said you can't be an actor," he explained. "Because there's too many actors in L.A. trying to, [so] we can't."

And, yes, a tape exists out there. Well, a DVD, actually.

Patrick Ecclesine/NBC

"Try to find it yeah. There's a DVD of my Survivor audition as Joe the Construction Worker from Pittsburgh," he shares. "And it's him jackhammering out there."

Now, that is quite the visual!

"And they wanted me on the show," he continues. "But I had a pilot that I had shot the year before that. Got picked up a year later and that never happens. So, I was going to be on TV and you can't be on TV and be on Survivor and they wanted the rights -- like the book rights -- and my life story. I couldn't do it." 

But that was then and this is now, and Manganiello's now the host of Deal or No Deal Island. NBCUniversal announced Manganiello as the new game show's host back in September. This thrilling new competition will take 13 daring contestants to a remote private island, where they will embark on a season-long adventure to win substantial cash prizes. Participants will face a series of exhilarating challenges, mind-bending dilemmas, and the classic game of Deal or No Deal in a tropical setting.

As the contestants strive to outsmart the elusive banker, Manganiello will step into the role of the charismatic host, guiding the gameplay, communicating the Banker's offers, and assisting the players in making nail-biting decisions. 

"The excursions, the challenges are so much fun," the new game show host says. "There's geniuses that work on this show. Matt Kunitz is our showrunner who created Fear Factor. So, there's a Fear Factor element. Our story team was the story team for Big Brother. So, they're going over the relationships and getting the dirt and letting me know what's going on in camp. And then the whole crew was the Survivor crew. So, we really have this all-star crew, just brilliant, brilliant people."

Deal or No Deal Island premieres Feb. 26 at 9:30 p.m. EST on NBC and then it moves to its regular time slot of 10 p.m. EST on March 4. The show will be available next day on Peacock.


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