By Jill Swensen
A warrior in his own right, Manu Bennett has brought to life many powerful characters including Crixus, Azog and, most recently, Deathstroke. But when he comes to Salt Lake Comic Con, he’s just Manu.
“It’s your convention and I’m a guest. I’m here for you.”
Fielding questions from fans, he recalled stories about filming The Hobbit in a motion-capture suit, wearing the same shoes Andy Serkis wore while playing Gollum. “It was fantastically testing to create in such a sterile environment,” Manu said. His white warg was played by a pommel horse and he developed quite the relationship with it. “I asked Peter Jackson, ‘Have I had this warg since it was a puppy? Do I have a relationship with this warg? Can I run my fork through his fur?’”
It was around the time of The Hobbit premiere that Manu’s agent called about auditioning for a series on The CW called “Arrow.” He flew to LA and arrived exhausted, but remembered his recent trip to Kuwait. American servicemen had taken something to keep them awake — 5 Hour Energy. He drank one down and was quickly amped for his audition, which he recreated for the audience:
“The audition line happened to be the first line I said when you first see Slade Wilson in the series. ‘You got 10 seconds to tell me something I believe, kid, before I cut out your throat box.’ I had just learned this chokehold from Special Forces and I wanted to use it! I asked the reader to come up and I put him in a chokehold while I delivered my line. The guy collapsed onto the ground, out cold.
“Is this part of the audition?
‘No, I think you just choked him out.’
Sorry, I just came back from Kuwait and they showed me that chokehold.
‘Don’t apologize. It was perfect.’”
Manu has continued to give his all to the character of Slade Wilson and it’s paying off. When meeting Deathstroke creator Marv Wolfman, he asked what he thought of his portrayal. Marv replied, “You got it exactly right.”