By: Helen Zhao
of hunky werewolf, Alcide Herveaux, on HBO’s True Blood, and has garnered him
recognition on Men’s Health’s 100 Fittest Men of All Time and People’s Sexiest
But the 36-year-old actor hasn’t always been a beacon of
physical fitness and studliness.
About a decade of his young adulthood was spent battling
substance abuse, depression, and homelessness – a plight he opens up about to
the Chicago Sun Times’ SPLASH
Magazine and in his new book, Evolution: The Cutting
Edge Guide to Breaking Down Mental Walls and Building the Body You’ve Always
According to SPLASH, Joe was a scrawny teen bullied by his
peers back in Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania – breeding deep
insecurities that led him to find solace in alcohol and drugs,
The True Blood star was able to balance a lifestyle of heavy
drinking and high academic as well as athletic achievement – winning starring
roles in school plays and enrolling in the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama.
However, he could no longer sustain his ways when having
transitioned into the real world.
Joe moved to Los Angeles in 2000 and landed the part of
Eugene ‘Flash’ Thompson in Sam Raimi’s blockbuster Spiderman franchise.
The drinking and drug use escalated, to the detriment of his
‘My brain, my body weren’t at 100 percent,’ he said. ‘It’s a
very competitive field, and if you’re not at your best, with clear eyes,
showing up ready to compete, you might as well not show up at all.’
After bouts of homelessness and depression, the Magic Mike
star realized it was do or die.
‘You get to a point where you’re gonna start getting better
or you’re gonna kill yourself,’ he said. ‘I was in so much pain, but I wasn’t
willing to end my life.’
He can pinpoint the exact day he decided to get clean:
August 26, 2002.
‘I [knew]I’d hurt myself so badly, but realized I’d also
hurt people around me,’ he said. ‘That’s what made me want to get better. But
anybody who has ever fought with addiction or knows somebody who’s been in the
grips of it, it’s not that easy.’
‘At the beginning, it
was just about not using,’ he said. ‘The alcohol was not my problem — the
alcohol was my solution to the way that I’d felt my whole life. My problem was
me. My problem was reality.’
At 25, Joe struggled to fight addition and pay the bills
through construction jobs for the next four years, all but giving up acting.
‘I had to clean up my mess, not just put my head in the sand
and walk away from it,’ he said. ‘I tracked down everybody I’d done damage to
and tried to make up for it. It didn’t happen quickly — if you walk five miles
into the woods, you have to walk five miles back out.’
In 2006, Joe got back into the Hollywood game and began
auditioning again – garnering small guest spots on shows like CSI and ER.
In 2010, he booked his role on True Blood and the rest is
After landing the role, he ‘laid down on the floor and
breathed, let out the frustration of the past eight years — the years of not
working because of my drinking, and the years of thinking my dreams weren’t
going to come true,’ he said. ‘At that point, I knew I had a shot again, that
there’d be a second act.’
With dozens of shirtless scenes on the agenda, the What to
Expect When You’re Expecting star threw himself into preparation with all his
might – hiring Hugh Jackman trainer Ron Mathews.
‘This was my chance
at the life I’d always dreamed I could have,’ he said. ‘I was going to show the
universe and the business and anyone who knew me that I deserved it.’
Thus far, his career has seen him in many body baring roles
– also as a male stripper in Magic Mike.
‘I wanted to really say goodbye to the word potential, and
what’s come out of it is this string of shirtless, naked and semi naked
projects,’ he laughed.
‘Somebody told me once, “You ride the horse the direction
it’s going.” If it’s going that way, that’s great. Someday I’ll be 60 or 70 or
80 and I’m not gonna be able to rock a thong. I’m gonna get it in now while I