The Magic Mike XXL costars and longtime pals graduated from Carnegie Mellon together

Credit: Mark Davis/Wireimage

Joe Manganiello and Matt Bomer‘s second big-screen collaboration, Magic Mike XXL, hits theaters on July 1, but the pair’s relationship goes far beyond that of costars.

The actors have been longtime friends, and attended Carnegie Mellon together in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, graduating in 2000.

Manganiello, 38, and Bomer, 37, reprise their roles as Richie and Ken, respectively, in the second installment of the Magic Mike series. The friends previously collaborated when the True Blood alum made a guest appearance on Bomer’s USA series White Collar, which wrapped up in 2014.

“I’ve known Matt since he was 18,” Manganiello said during a Magic Mike XXL press conference in West Hollywood on Saturday. “We did come up through drama school together.”

The pair joked about their classical training, with Bomer mentioning they’ve performed works by playwright George Bernard Shaw together.

“Chekhov and Shakespeare and Ibsen and all of that,” Manganiello added during the press conference. “Now, at this moment in our careers where Scene 1, Take 1, Joe, you’re going to get naked and cannonball Channing [Tatum] into a pool. That education really paid off.”

The stars have nothing but respect for each other, with Manganiello, who’s engaged to actress Sofia Vergara, calling Bomer “humble.”

“I feel like sometimes I’m Matt’s agent, or I’m Matt’s color man, letting people know, Matt can sing,” he said, adding, “You’ve got to hear Matt sing.”

Bomer also joked about seeing his talented friend perform a dance routine during a scene at a gas station mini-mart from the new movie.

“Seeing the mini-mart scene with Joe, seeing the culmination of all those years just come to fruition in that moment, to me, was so mind-blowing and epic,” he said. “I literally just stood behind the camera, just wanting popcorn … with my jaw on the ground, just thanking God.”

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The longtime buddies previously reminisced to Entertainment Weekly in 2012 about some of their college assignments as drama students, including one where they had to embody animals for several weeks.

“Freshman year we did these projects where you had to go to the zoo,” said Manganiello, adding: “I wanted to be a tiger or a lion or something, and they chose a penguin for me. So I had to be a penguin for up to three-and-a-half hours a day for seven weeks, which was ridiculous.”

Bomer was a peacock for the assignment, wherein he and Manganiello had to act as their characters for a “big town meeting” where they were evaluated.

“I’m sitting there going, ‘This is the stupidest thing I have ever done in my life. I’m a fricking penguin, now I have to interact with all of the other animals, and I can’t fight back,'” Manganiello told EW of their unique exam.

Reporting by SCOTT HUVER