INTERVIEW: Manu Bennett

Published on theMusic.com.au, Apr 2015

Unthinkable

SHOTS FIRED

Manu Bennett has made a somewhat abrupt exit from hit series Arrow. Daniel Cribb finds out why he won’t be returning and what he’s working on now.

His portrayal of Slade Wilson/super villain Deathstroke in TV hit Arrow made him a fan favourite in seasons one and two, but Manu Bennett’s departure from the show has the star a little uneasy. Cast to play an almost unstoppable force, the end of the second season saw him defeated by the Arrow, and a recent appearance in the third season saw the Arrow’s sister, Thea Queen, also take him down. “I think Deathstroke had a lot of possibilities with Arrow but, I think they took it in the wrong direction,” Bennett comments. “I think they should have honoured the Marv Wolfman character, who was literally unstoppable. I read the DC comic books and thought Deathstroke was so bad-arse because they make it that nobody can stop him. He’s not even super-powered, he is just a mercenary.

“It took the Justice League to defeat him; it took an army to take him on. In Arrow, it took a while for Oliver [Queen/Arrow] to prove his point, but [season three] was just a beating of Slade, adding insult to injury.”

Bennett has now thrust himself into a new show, which is filming in his birthplace. “There was an audition in Hollywood and just by chance I landed a series that they were shooting back here in New Zealand called Shannara. It’s a book series created by Terry Brooks and is the second largest-selling series.

“I’m playing Allanon, and he’s like Gandalf meets Deathstroke – kick-arse dude. What I think is that The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit audiences have sort of been left with nothing now that Peter Jackson’s two trilogies have come to an end. I think that Shannara will fill that void.”

No stranger to the works of Peter Jackson, Bennett spent considerable time on the big screen as orc Azog in The Hobbit, giving him the advantage of being able to compare the format to TV. “The upside of a television series is you get to take a story and make it very detailed for a longer period of time. A film only allows you 90 minutes to take in a story and try to understand it.

“I guess I’ve made a career thus far out of creating these more fleshed-out characters that the audience learns to love or to hate and sort of has a bit of a rollercoaster ride with these characters, you know? And they are interesting like that, because playing those characters in film would usually restrict you to only having several lines, because the protagonists are the only people talking.”

Bennett has become a frequent guest at fan conventions like Supanova. “I once wrote on my Twitter, ‘Imagine how many people on this planet you’ll never meet. I wish I knew the world better.’ And the answer to that has started to happen since I wrote that. I have actually started to meet people by the thousands through these conventions. It’s quite fulfilling to look into so many sets of eyes and exchange energy. If only everyone could do it; it’s an eye-opener.”

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