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Arrow Video Interview - Manu Bennett Talks Future of Deathstroke + Fun Audition Story Clip

He may be locked in a jail on an isolated island, but have we seen the last of Deathstroke/Slade Wilson on the CW’s “Arrow?” We caught up with actor Manu Bennett at the Salt Lake Comic Con to find out.

“I’m trapped in purgatory right now – but I think I’m going to get out,” he tells SpoilerTV. “We’ll see what happens. Deathstroke’s not going anywhere quick.”

In a panel at the convention, Bennett said the show will be focusing its villainous efforts on Ra’s al Ghul this season (played by Matt Nable). But he told the audience Deathstroke wouldn’t be afraid of Ra’s al Ghul - he would stare him in the face and say, “This is my town!” That face-off may not happen just yet, but Bennett is thrilled at the fan reaction to his character over the last two seasons.

“The fans have been hugely responsive,” he tells us. “I do a lot of these conventions now and so many people come dressed up as Deathstroke. So the fans are responding to the character. When I’ve talked to the guys from the actual comic book world – the artists themselves – they’re all really excited that Deathstroke is making a comeback. He’s the only guy that ever beat Batman, you know. So there’s a real enigma around his character that we’re flushing out now.”

Bennett says he enjoyed playing both the good and bad in the dual characters of Slade and Deathstroke. When it comes to Slade, he says, “I liked that Oliver and I actually became so close that it took almost a Shakespearean tragedy to tear us apart. It took kind of like Iago whispering in the ear to make Othello lose his mind, you know what I mean. It’s sort of a double-edged sword when you get good writing like that because the audience loves the character but then the character goes so much into the dark that it becomes tragedy. It’s always good to be an actor with those kind of roles.”

At the convention’s press conference, Bennett generously announced he would be donating the first $1,000 he made at Salt Lake Comic Con to a local family whose child was receiving cancer treatment. Salt Lake Comic Con sponsored two events that raised money for families with kids fighting cancer.


At Manu Bennett’s panel, we also learned more about the actor’s “Arrow” audition, along with his thoughts on playing a comic book character, his praise for his co-star and what it was like to film “The Hobbit” movies. Check out his comments and a great video clip below:

On his “Arrow” audition:
“I was in Kuwait doing a USO tour. I got to meet a couple of the Special Forces guys and one of them showed me this headlock. A couple of days after I met him, I flew back to Los Angeles. On my last day my manager said, ‘Can you be at this audition for ‘Arrow?’’ And so I got there and I’m half jetlagged. In the military boys were all drinking 5-hour Energy drink. So I chugged this thing. And I walked into this casting agency and it started hitting me immediately. This 5-hour Energy drink was surging through me like Mirakuru. When I heard there was a chokehold in the scene, this Special Forces guy had just showed me this chokehold – I wanted to use it! So the director in the casting for ‘Arrow’ says, “Are you ready, Mr. Bennett?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’m ready.’ So I grabbed this guy around the head and as I started the scene and I got to the [line], at that point the guy collapsed onto the ground – out cold! I said, ‘Is this part of the audition?’ The director said, ‘No, I think you just choked him out.’ I wasn’t sure that was gonna be the last audition I was ever gonna do in Hollywood. But the director said, ‘Don’t apologize. It was perfect.’”

On finding out he’d be playing Deathstroke:
Bennett had auditioned for a character called Holloway. So when he landed at the Vancouver airport and read an article stating he would be playing Deathstroke, he was confused.

“I said, ‘It’s wrong. I read for Holloway – not Deathstroke.’ And literally the guy behind the counter at immigration in Vancouver said to me, ‘Are you playing Deathstroke? Man, Deathstroke is like the badass of the DC comic world!’ And the journey began.”

On how he taps into the darkness of Deathstroke:
“I used to play piano. I wanted to be a classical piano player but I put my focus on acting. Sometimes I think about, when you get to a Rachmaninoff piece and you’ve got to start hammering the keys and really getting intense, it’s the time where as an actor that you’ve got to dig deep and find a whole bunch of stuff. A lot of people don’t know but my life hasn’t been so easy when I was young. My mother and brother both died in car accidents. My brother died in my hands. That was a very, very shocking thing for me when I was a 15-year-old kid. But the arts are what gave me a positive expression. I didn’t go down the drug and alcohol road but I found my strength in playing rugby and acting. I’ve managed to take all of that and be able to channel it positively like an instrument would. So all that stuff from a 15-year-old kid, I can store it.”

On how he doesn’t ever initially know where his TV character is headed:
“Television scripts come to you a couple days before you have to film. Television moves really fast. The writers are always adjusting the scripts. [In earlier ‘Arrow’ episodes] they said, ‘Hey, you’re in love with Shadow.’ I was like, ‘Really? I’ve been treating her like a young girl who needs to be protected.’ They said, ‘No, we’re going to try to put it into a love triangle. So you’ve been in love with her. Start putting it into this episode.’ And the death of Oliver’s mother – I think I had 48 hours tops before I had to play the scene where I killed Moira. It comes fast. And you’ve got to be ready and on your feet to just change directions.”

On “Arrow” star Stephen Amell:
“Stephen Amell honestly has done such a great job as a young actor who has been thrust into the limelight. He was born to play Oliver Queen. When you play a lead actor in a series, you don’t get any sleep. You don’t get a day off. You’re working all the time. He has a huge load on his shoulders. And I saw him go through the process in the year and a half that I’ve worked with him as being a young guy who has a great look and sort of having to be stoic and be this heroic model, to a guy who really became an incredible actor internally. When I actually killed his mother in that episode, the acting that he did around that, to emotionally go through that particular episode, was just phenomenal. He’s the perfect Oliver.”

On playing a TV role from the comic world:
“When I first met [Deathstroke co-creator and artist] George Perez, I said, ‘I’m playing Deathstroke.’ And he almost immediately said, ‘You’re not old enough.’ And he said it quite pointedly. I felt devastated, to be honest. I actually followed George out of the convention in Ottawa and caught up to him in the cab he was in and he was like, ‘No, you don’t look like him; I’m not going to tell you you look like him.’ Then probably six months later I ran into [Deathstroke’s other co-creator] Marv Wolfman and Marv was the guy who actually created the character and wrote the character and sort of made it the mind of the character. And he told me that I got it exactly right. When it comes down to actually doing these roles, the way they’re written on television, it’s a very different story arc. You can only do so much in terms of trying to be accurate to the DC comic world and be accurate to the television show ‘Arrow.’ You just got to keep on staying true to the script that comes in front of you. If you read the comic books, you’ll see a different variation.”

On what it was like shooting the motion capture scenes for the character of Azog in “The Hobbit” films:
Bennett didn’t initially win the role. A friend of his from high school filmed the part wearing a costume and prosthetic. But a year and a half later, director Peter Jackson decided the costuming and prosthetic procedure wasn’t effective enough. So three months before the first film was supposed to debut, Jackson re-cast Azog and chose to create the character through CGI. That’s when Bennett came on board.

“Because I was pulled in so late, I never worked with any of the other actors. I was totally isolated in a studio where I was trying to find the motion capture of Azog. Then after about two months, I was sent to a sound stage to do the voice. I got to the studio and they’d taken the motion capture animated Azog and put him on top of the film so you can see the scenes as they’re actually going to look. And then I have to put the voiceover on top of it. They dropped my voice about an octave. It was all very abstract filmmaking and I didn’t really know what any of it was going to look like. But at the end of the day it was one of the most incredible experiences of using film technology that I’ve been involved in. Inside that [motion capture world], you’ve got to make some decisions to get more out of the character. I watched ‘Jaws’ the night before I went in to do Azog. I thought, ‘What makes it scary is you can’t see the shark.’ So in the opening scene I turned away from the camera because I didn’t want the audience to see. I wanted them to be going, ‘What is that?’ It was just coming up with some dramatic choices and trying to create stuff like that in a completely sterile environment, without other actors. It’s very different than live filming. It was fantastically testing in terms of the decisions.”

Meeting Fans & Signing Autographs at Salt Lake Comic Con

About the Author - Tonya Papanikolas
Tonya Papanikolas is an online, print and broadcast journalist who loves covering entertainment and television. She spent more than 10 years as a broadcast news anchor and reporter. Now she does everything from hosting to writing. She loves being a part of the SpoilerTV team.