Manu Bennett

For the Anglican bishop, see Manuhuia Bennett.
Manu Bennett

Bennett at Florida SuperCon 2014
Born Jonathan Manu Bennett
(1969-10-10) 10 October 1969
Rotorua, New Zealand
Other names Jon Bennett
Occupation Actor
Years active 1993–present
Children 3

Jonathan Manu Bennett (born 10 October 1969), is a New Zealand actor. He is known for his portrayal as the Gallic gladiator Crixus in the Starz television series Spartacus. He has also appeared as the orc commander Azog the Defiler in Peter Jackson's three-part film adaptation based on The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien, as supervillain Slade Wilson/Deathstroke in The CW TV series Arrow and as Allanon in the MTV series The Shannara Chronicles, based on the Shannara novel series by Terry Brooks.

Early life

Born in New Zealand, Bennett's mother Jean Bennett was an Australian bikini model, his father Ted Bennett, a New Zealand singer. The family moved to Australia when Bennett was a few months old. On his father's side, Bennett is of Māori (specifically Te Arawa and Ngāti Kahungunu) and Irish descent. His mother is of Scottish descent. He was raised mostly between Sydney and Newcastle in Australia, where he attended Merewether High School. In 1986, Bennett returned to New Zealand to attend Te Aute College, where he played for the 1st XV. Upon returning to Australia, Bennett was chosen in the New South Wales Schoolboys Rugby Union Team. Interested in modern dancing, classical ballet and piano, Bennett quit rugby to attend university to study dance and drama, then traveled to Los Angeles on a scholarship to attend the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute. In an interview, Bennett talked about the car accidents that killed his mother and brother and put him in a two-week coma. He cites that because of his girlfriend, who was a ballet dancer, he got into acting and found it to be the medium to which direct his emotions saying, "Acting was my route to survival."[1]


Bennett's professional acting career began in 1993 in the teen soap Paradise Beach. He then played guest roles in other Australian TV dramas, including Water Rats, All Saints, and Beastmaster. Bennett then starred alongside Claudia Karvan in the miniseries The Violent Earth, produced by French company Gaumont. In 1996, Bennett participated in theatre. In an open-air production of Lady Chatterley's Lover, based on D. H. Lawrence's novel, directed by Australian film/theatre director Robert Chuter, he played the title role, the gamekeeper Oliver Mellors in which he met model/actor Darlene Rada Ford from Bondi Beach who encouraged him to pursue more serious acting roles abroad.

In 1999, Bennett landed his first leading role in a feature film named Tomoko, shot on location in Tokyo, starring opposite Rumiko Koyanagi. In 2000, Bennett starred in Xena: Warrior Princess as Marc Antony, then played a role opposite Without a Trace star Anthony LaPaglia, where Bennett displayed his dancing skills as a salsa dance teacher in the award-winning Australian film, Lantana.

Bennett returned to New Zealand in 2000 to appear in the popular television drama, Shortland Street, then went on to play a cop turned lawyer in Street Legal before working with his director cousin Michael Bennett on the Māori Twilight Zone-styled series Mataku before working with Richard Taylor from the Academy Award-winning firm Weta Workshop on Creature Quest.

In August 2002, Bennett landed a screen test opposite Angelina Jolie for a part in the Tomb Raider sequel, The Cradle of Life. Actor Gerard Butler ended up beating him for the role.[2]

Bennett in 2014

In 2003, Bennett hosted Going Straight, a New Zealand reality show.

In 2006, Bennett was cast in The Marine alongside WWE wrestling star John Cena and Robert Patrick. In 2007, Bennett was cast as one of ten convicts alongside Stone Cold Steve Austin and Vinnie Jones in The Condemned. In 2006, Bennett was cast opposite Josh Hartnett to play Deputy Billy Kitka in the US film 30 Days of Night.

In 2010, Bennett co-starred in the new American television series Spartacus: Blood and Sand, about the defiant gladiator Spartacus. Bennett played the key role of Crixus, Champion of Capua. He was the only cast member of the show who starred on all three seasons, and the prequel Spartacus: Gods of the Arena as well as starring in the most episodes of this series.[3]

In 2012, he played the villain Azog the Defiler in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and continued to portray the character in the sequels. In November 2012, Bennett was cast in the first season of Arrow as Slade Wilson,[4] and in March 2013, he was promoted to series regular for the second season.[5]

In May 2014, Bennett revealed he had lost two roles in Stargate Atlantis and the 2011 film Conan the Barbarian to actor Jason Momoa.[6]

In December 2014, Manu was cast as the druid Allanon in MTV's television series The Shannara Chronicles.[7]

Personal life

Manu Bennett and Israeli Karin Horen have three daughters together.[8]

In September 2015, Bennett was arrested for misdemeanor assault in San Antonio, Texas, after he had punched a man while drunk at a hotel party.[9][10]


Bennett at Wizard World comic con in 2013


Year Title Role Notes
1998 The Violent Earth Wanatcha Duvalier
2001 Lantana Steve Veldez
2006 The Marine Bennett
2006 The Bridge Short Film
Director, Producer
2007 The Condemned Paco
2007 30 Days of Night Deputy Billy Kitka
2012 The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Azog the Defiler
2013 The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
2014 The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
2016 Beta Test Orson Creed
2017 Death Race 2050 Frankenstein Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1993–1994 Paradise Beach Kirk Barsby Unknown episodes
1994 Blue Heelers Mark Davies Episode: "The First Stone"
1996–97 Water Rats Joseph Lipinski 3 episodes
1998 All Saints Darren Episode: "Body and Soul"
1999 BeastMaster Terron Leader Episode: "The Legend Continues"
2000 Xena: Warrior Princess Marc Antony Episode: "Antony and Cleopatra"
2000–01 Shortland Street Jack Hewitt 7 episodes
2001 Head Start Dom Episode: "He Ain't Heavy"
2001 Street Legal Matt Urlich Series Regular; 12 episodes
2002 Mataku John Episode: "Going to War"
2003 Going Straight Himself Host
2008 The Strip Brandon Bell Episode: "Episode Thirteen"
2010–13 Spartacus Crixus Series Regular; 37 episodes
2011 Sinbad and The Minotaur Sinbad Television film
2012 Bikie Wars: Brothers in Arms Sunshine 4 episodes
2013–15 Arrow Slade Wilson / Deathstroke 31 episodes
Recurring (Season 1)
Series Regular (Season 2)
Guest (Season 3)
2016–Present The Shannara Chronicles Allanon Series Regular
2016 American Dad! Patrucio Voice; Episode: "Roots"

Video games

Year Title Role Notes
2014 Lego the Hobbit: The Video Game Azog the Defiler Voice


  1. Poghosyan, Astghik Cin (24 November 2013). "Super Megafest 2013: Manu Bennett Panel". Emertainment Monthly.
  2. "Butler beats Manu Bennett". The New Zealand Herald. 16 August 2002. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  3. "Manu Bennett in Spartacus: Blood and Sand". Starz. Retrieved 31 January 2010.
  4. Hibberd, James (30 November 2012). "'Arrow' casts 'Spartacus' favorite in major role – EXCLUSIVE". Entertainment Weekly.
  5. Goldberg, Lesley (20 March 2013). "'Arrow's' Manu Bennett Upped to Series Regular for Season 2 (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter.
  6. "2014: Dallas Comic Con; Manu Bennett Panel". YouTube.
  7. Dornbush, Jonathon (18 December 2014). "Manu Bennett joins cast of MTV's Shannara". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
  8. Jillings, Kasia (2 May 2013). "Brave Mother's new battle: I'll fight the cancer - again". Yahoo New Zealand Lifestyle. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  9. Puente, Maria (15 September 2015). "'Hobbit' actor Manu Bennett arrested in Texas". USA Today. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
  10. Hanks, Henry (14 September 2015). "Manu Bennett, actor in 'Hobbit' and 'Arrow,' charged with assault in Texas". CNN. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
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