Joe Manganiello as Joe "Grinder" Phillips in "Sabotage"

Joe Manganiello as Joe “Grinder” Phillips in “Sabotage”

*As if Bradley Cooper’s jheri curl in “American Hustle” wasn’t enough, on Friday, “True Blood” star Joe Manganiello arrived in theaters wearing jailhouse cornrows, a specific look designed to accent his character’s badassness in the action thriller “Sabotage.”

The actor, who plays a member of an elite team of DEA operatives, crossed off several bucket list items in shooting the film. He got to star opposite his childhood idol Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose character is the team’s commander; and he was finally able to work under director David Ayer, also the screenwriter for Denzel Washington’s Oscar vehicle “Training Day.”

“I screen tested for ‘Training Day’ 13 years ago, for [director] Antoine [Fuqua], and it was the first time I read David’s script,” Manganiello said during a recent “Sabotage” press conference. “They talk about addicts chasing that first high, and I think that for the past 13 years I’ve been trying to find another script that was as good, and [has given me] as visceral a response to it the way ‘Training Day’ did.”

Actor Joe Manganiello attends The Cinema Society with Muscle & Fitness screening of Open Road Films' 'Sabotage' at AMC Loews Lincoln Square on March 25, 2014 in New York City

Actor Joe Manganiello attends The Cinema Society with Muscle & Fitness screening of Open Road Films’ ‘Sabotage’ at AMC Loews Lincoln Square on March 25, 2014 in New York City

The “Training Day” connection doesn’t stop there. Manganiello said he found inspiration for his character – cornrows and all – from the popular 2001 film, which saw Washington’s character adopt the look of the gangs he policed as a Los Angeles narcotics detective.

Listen below.  (Joe specifically recalls co-star Terrence Howard’s reaction to his new hair.)