Manu Bennett was born in New Zealand in 1969. His mother was an Australian bikini model and his father was a New Zealand singer.  When Manu moved to Australia, he was chosen to play rugby on the New South Wales Union Team and then later attended a university of the arts because of his strong interests in modern dancing, classical ballet, and piano. He then traveled to Los Angeles on a scholarship to attend the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute. 

Manu began his acting career in 1993 with the teen soap opera Paradise Beach. Bennett’s first leading role in 1999 was for the feature Japanese film Tomoko. In 2000, Bennett starred in Xena: Warrior Princess, opposite Lucy Lawless, as Roman General Mark Antony.  Manu then returned to New Zealand to star in Shortland Street, Street Legal, Mataku, Creature Quest, and Going Straight. Later in 2006, Bennett was cast in The Marine with wrestling superstar John Cena and T-2’s Robert Patrick. He also starred opposite Josh Hartnett as Deputy Billy Kitka in the vampire novel film adaptation, 30 Days of Night.

Manu was cast in the 2010 popular television series Spartacus: Blood and Sand, in the role of the fierce gladiator Crixus. The show had three successful seasons and he remained as the longest-standing cast member. In 2012 he landed the role of the monstrous pale orc, Azog the Defiler, in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit film trilogy. Later that year he was cast as the iconic villain Deathstroke (Slade Wilson) on the first season of the hit DC show Arrow. Becoming a popular fan favorite, Manu was promoted in 2013 to a series regular on Arrow, reprising the murderous Deathstroke character. 

In 2016, Manu appeared as the beloved druid Allanon in MTV’s television series adaptation of Terry Brooks’ epic fantasy series The Shannara Chronicles. The series lasted two full seasons. 

This year, Manu Bennett is starring in the upcoming young adult sports film Perfect Addiction, based off of the bestselling 2019 Claudia Tan novel.