Lawrence Makoare is best known for his roles in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies. In The Fellowship of the Ring, he portrayed the Uruk-hai leader Lurtz, and in The Return of the King, he portrayed the Witch-king of Angmar as well as Gothmog, the Orc commander at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. In The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, he portrayed the Orc commander Bolg, son of Azog. Due to filming commitments on Marco Polo, Makoare was unavailable during the pick-ups shooting of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, in which Bolg is portrayed by John Tui instead.

Makoare is also popular among Xena: Warrior Princess fans, having played two memorable characters in the third season: a Barbarian leader in episode “The Quill Is Mightier…“; and Maecanus (a minion of Aphrodite) in episode “Fins, Femmes and Gems“. In 2002, he portrayed Mr. Kil in the James Bond film Die Another Day. The director of The Dead Lands, Toa Fraser, was not enthusiastic about using Makoare as the warrior, but was won over by the way he managed, after a few directing hints, to turn in a performance that made him weep.