Panel Name: Manu Bennett “From Deathstroke to Crixus”
Topic: Manu Bennett Q&A
Featured Guests: Manu Bennett
There is always this feeling inside us when we’re waiting in a room for someone we admire. There is a build up. We start imagining how it’s going to be, what their presence is going to entice, and what we’re going to feel when we see them face to face, in the same room, talking like regular people. I crossed my legs in the first row with my reporter notebook and pen in hand and my phone set up for recording. I was ready. Manu Bennett walked into the room. It was evident in the way that he held himself that not only had he done this before but that there was a certain enjoyment in his part in doing so. He walked up to the stage, held the microphone in front of him and started talking. He owned the room.
What struck me the most about this character was his pride in talking about his ethnicity and where he came from. He established his audience in a time and place, and surrounded us with his heritage. “The Māori people,” he kept repeating. “The Māori lived in New Zealand for 700 years before the Europeans showed up.” It was clear that his heritage had had a great impact in his life, later commenting on the fact that his most wanted role would be to take part in a film like Brave Heart with an epic New Zealand theme. It was the perfect opening to guide us into focusing on his career.
He started talking about Spartacus and how the resonance from that show had touched every culture in some way or another. He focused on talking about Dubai. The show had been banned in the country for its highly sexual content. Every person that had come to see him had basically done so illegally and the way he talked about his experience showed that he held a high level of respect for other cultures, not dimismissing any outside beliefs as foolish. An outstanding person really. “I am still trying to search in so many ways what that resonance means,” he said. “And how I can hold on to that as an artist, as an actor.”
The next thing that Bennett said that struck me was the way he expressed how cons are built upon symbols of society that are present in comic books that essentially help set up a trend or a specific trademark of the time period in which we are living in. Comic books are a way to appeal to a younger audience to find ways to better ourselves through these iconic characters that started out as normal individuals and found ways to become more heroic, better people.
His art, he approached the topic next, was his way of dealing with the loss he had to live with throughout his life. First with music and dancing, and later on through acting, he felt art was the way to express the pain and sorrow after his mother and brother died in a car accident. There was something about being able to move people that was meaningful to him. However, acting, he felt, was different from music and dance. With acting there was always this feeling of not knowing where you’re at.
Bennett had previously spent time with these guys who were part of the Special Forces. For his audition for Arrow he had a terrible jetlag and so he had this five hour energy drink provided by his buddies in the Special Forces. He walked into the casting studio and asked the guy behind to camera to approach him. To reinact this, Manu Bennett stood up and pointed to a guy in the audience who proceeded to approach him in the same manner. Bennett then placed his arm around the guy’s shoulders and continued to tell the story.He got closer to the audience member and whispered into his ear the lines he delivered for his audition. “You got ten seconds to tell me something I believe kid,” he said. “Or I’m gonna cut out your throat.” And at the moment when Bennett delivered his lines, he told us, the kid from his audition fell unconscious to the floor. Manu Bennett had choked a kid in his audition and as he looked up the casting director exclaimed, “It was perfect.” By then, the guy in the audience was able to return to his seat.
His interaction with the audience was amazing. The way that he spoke and his use of imagery was perfect for the audience to feel like we had experienced all these different situations with him. He was incredibly human.
To wrap up, there was a ten-minute session of Q&A and perhaps the most important question asked was whether we would see Bennett’s character of Deathstroke again in Arrow. “I just got a phone call,” Bennett said. And with that note, stay tuned to see if Deathstroke appears in Arrow’s third season!