Manu Bennett (born 10 October 1969), also known as John Bennett or Jon Bennett, is an actor from New Zealand who has appeared in television series and movies. He is best known for his role as Crixus, the Undefeated Gaul in the American Starz television series Spartacus, about the uprising started by the gladiator Spartacus in the Roman Republic. He also had roles playing the villain Azog in The Hobbit and as Slade Wilson in Arrow, a series about the superhero Green Arrow.
Born in New Zealand, Bennett's mother was an Australian bikini model, his father a New Zealand singer. The family moved to Australia when Bennett was a few months old. On his father's side, Bennett is of Māori (specifically Te Arawa and Ngāti Kahungunu) and Irish descent. His mother is of Scottish and Spanish ancestry. He was raised mostly between Sydney and Newcastle, Australia. 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 travelled to Los Angeles on a scholarship to attend the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute.
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 mini series The Violent Earth, produced by French company Gaumont. In 1996,
Bennett participated in theater. In the open air production of D. H. Lawrence's " Lady Chatterley's Lover", he played the infamous gamekeeper Oliver Mellors, directed by Australian film/theatre director Robert Chuter.
In 1999, Bennett landed his first leading role in a feature film named Tomoko, shot on location in Tokyo, starring opposite Rumiko Koyanagi.