Manu Bennett

Manu Bennett
Bennett at Phoenix Comic Fest 2018
Jonathan Manu Bennett

(1969-10-10) 10 October 1969 (age 54)
Rotorua, New Zealand
Other namesJon Bennett
Years active1993–present
PartnerKarin Horen (2007-2017)

Jonathan Manu Bennett (born 10 October 1969) is an Australian-New Zealand actor. He is primarily known for portraying characters in epic fantasy works, such as Crixus in the TV series Spartacus, Allanon in The Shannara Chronicles, Slade Wilson / Deathstroke in Arrow, and Azog the Defiler in The Hobbit trilogy.

Early life

Bennett was born in New Zealand in 1969. His mother Jean Bennett was an Australian bikini model and father Ted Bennett a New Zealand singer. The family moved to Australia when Bennett was a few months old. Bennett's father is of Māori (specifically Te Arawa and Ngāti Kahungunu) 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 audience Q&A in Boston, Bennett talked about the car accident he experienced at a young age that killed his mother and brother and put him in a two-week coma. At that time, his girlfriend was a ballet dancer, which got him into acting; he found it to be the medium into which he wanted to direct his emotions, saying, "Acting was my route to survival."


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 guest 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.

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.

From 2010 to 2013, Bennett co-starred in the new American television series Spartacus, about the defiant gladiator Spartacus. Bennett played the key role of Crixus, Champion of Capua. He was the only cast member of the series who starred on all four seasons, as well as starring in the most episodes of this series.

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, and in March 2013, he was promoted to series regular for the second season. He then made several guest appearances in subsequent seasons.

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

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

Personal life

Manu Bennett and Karin Horen have three children. The couple confirmed their split in 2017.


Bennett at Wizard World comic con in 2013


List of performances in film
Year Title Role Notes
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
2011 Sinbad and The Minotaur Sinbad Television film
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 Direct to video
2022 Muru Kimiora
2023 Möbius‘ Trip Mission Command (voice) Short film
2023 Pente 5 Five Aran
2023 Perfect Addiction Julian


List of performances on television
Year Title Role Notes
1993–1994 Paradise Beach Kirk Barsby 254 episodes
1994 Blue Heelers Mark Davies Episode: "The First Stone"
1996–97 Water Rats Joseph Lipinski 3 episodes
1998 The Violent Earth Wanatcha DuValier 3 episodes
1998 All Saints Darren Episode: "Body and Soul"
1999 BeastMaster Terron Leader Episode: "The Legend Continues"
2000 Tales of the South Seas David Legeure Episode: "Fast Company"
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"
2002–03 Street Legal Matt Urlich 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 37 episodes
2012 Bikie Wars: Brothers in Arms Raymond "Sunshine" Kucler 4 episodes
2013–2020 Arrow Slade Wilson / Deathstroke Main role (season 2); recurring role (season 1); special guest star (seasons 3, 5–6, 8)
40 episodes
2016–2017 The Shannara Chronicles Allanon,
The Warlock Lord
20 episodes
2016 American Dad! Patrucio
Episode: "Roots"
2019 Pandora Leone Vokk 2 episodes
2023 The Gone Tamati Davidson 6 episodes
2023 Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction Hotel clerk Episode: "Das Hotel des Grauens"


Year Title Role Notes
2022 Broken Road Arlin Frey 6 episodes

Video games

Year Title Voice role Notes
2014 Lego The Hobbit Azog the Defiler

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