Manu Bennett was born in New Zealand on October 10, 1969. His mother was an Australian bikini model and his father was a New Zealand singer. At a young age he moved to Australia and was mostly raised between Sydney and Newcastle. Bennett went back to New Zealand to attend the Te Aute College to play rugby. When we returned back to Australia, he was chosen to be on the New South Wales Schoolboys Rugby Union Team. Manu decided to quit rugby to attend a university to study dance and drama because of his strong interests in modern dancing, classical ballet, and piano. He then traveled to Los Angeles to attend the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute on scholarship.
Manu began his acting career with the teen soap opera Paradise Beach in 1999. Bennett’s first leading role was for a Japanese-film Tomoko. In 2000, Bennett starred in Xena: Warrior Princess as 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 star John Cena and Robert Patrick. He was also cast opposite to Josh Hartnett as Deputy Billy Kitka in 30 Days of Night.
Manu was cast in the television series Spartacus: Blood and Sand in the role of Crixus. He was the longest standing cast member of the TV show. In 2012, he landed the villain role of Azog the Defiler in The Hobbit film trilogy. Later he was cast as Slade Wilson (Deathstroke) on the first season of Arrow. In 2013, Manu was promoted to a series regular for Arrow. Bennett also stars as Sinbad in an Australian production of Sinbad and the Minotaur. In December 2014, Manu was cast as the druid Allanon in MTV’s television series adaptation of Terry Brooks’ fantasy series The Shannara Chronicles.