Manu Bennett was born in New Zealand on Octiber 10, 1969. Bennett’s mother was an Australian bikini model and his father a New Zealand singer. On his father’s side, Bennett is of Maori and Irish descent. His mother is of Scottish and Spanish ancestry. The family moved to Australia when Bennett was a few months old. In 1986, Bennett returned to New Zealand to attend College. 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.
Manu’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 mini series The Violent Earth, produced by French company Gaumont. In 1999, Bennett landed his first leading role in a feature film named Tomoko, shot on location in Tokyo. In 2000, Bennett starred in Xena: Warrior Princess as Marc Antony, and scored a role in the award-winning Australian film, Lantana, where he had the opportunity to display his dancing skills as a salsa dance teacher.
One of his best-known roles is that of the gladiator, Crixus, in the Starz cable network series Spartacus. He was the only cast member of the show who starred in all three seasons and in the prequel Spartacus: Gods of the Arena. He plays Azog the Defiler in all three Hobbit films. On screen, Azog is a CGI character, so Many spent many hours in a motion-capture suit to bring the role to life. He is currently starring as Slade Wilson in the TV Series, Arrow.