My LA To Z: Manu Bennett

The native New Zealander and “Spartacus” actor (who you may recognize as Slade from “Arrow” but probably not as Azog the Defiler from “The Hobbit”) gives us a Kiwi’s perspective on Italian leather boots, colossal tiger prawns, and keeping those abs in Gladiator shape


I’m a big fan of Italian leather boots, but they have to be unique. I walked past the window of Tony K’s and automatically spotted three shoes that I thought were killer: different in style, very well made. There’s a hunk of a guy standing in the doorway, the owner’s son, Alan, and he says, ‘Come on in.’ Tony and Alan handpick their stuff from Italy. All of the shoes I have that people comment on are from Tony K’s.

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The Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills

There’s a real classicism to the building that makes you feel like you’ve arrived in Beverly Hills. They have a wonderful swimming pool with cocktails and bar service. The sun seems to go from horizon to horizon over that swimming pool. A horticulturalist designed their outdoor garden; it’s a whole feature wall of succulents and tropical flowers and vines. And there’s always a group of celebrities of some sort. Once I had Angelina Jolie on one side and Harvey Weinstein on the other!

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H Lorenzo

H Lorenzo’s selection is hand-picked from some of the top Japanese and Italian designers. It’s expensive—you pay for the quality of the clothing—but if you really want something different and interesting, that’s where you should go. These types of stores don’t exist in New Zealand, so when I get the opportunity to shop at places like H. Lorenzo, I take it.

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It’s my favorite restaurant. It’s the ambience of the place—almost like you’ve lost yourself in Asia: giant carps under glass floors, waitstaff in beautiful garb. And the food is mad. My favorite dishes are the roasted crab and the colossal royal tiger prawns. They’ve got this principle of making their food based upon Eastern medicine, looking at antioxidants and healthy herbs. I took the whole cast of Spartacus there at the end of season two, and everybody loved it.

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Forgotten Saints

This place can make any girl or guy look like a rockstar. It’s a bizarre rock and roll wonderland. A designer hand makes traditional rocker outfits, everything from patchwork jeans to leather pants. Their clothes are so trademarked that when you wear them, you look like Slash from Guns N’ Roses. The only pair of leather pants I own are from Forgotten Saints. I wear them to dress up parties and rock shows.

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The Soho House

The thing I like about SoHo House is that it’s an industry hang, but it’s not snobbish. You can feel that there’s a lot going on there. It also has a great ambiance that melds the bar, restaurant, and lounge scenes, and magnificent views of the Hollywood district. They don’t have anything like the SoHo House in New Zealand. I’ve mentioned it to people in the venue creation industry there because it’d be pertinent in any country.

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The Hollywood Sign

A must do on any level of visiting L.A. People know about it, but how many people actually take the time to walk up the dirt path that leads to the hills? Then you climb up the mountain and you’re standing behind the actual sign. If you get too close, a voice comes over this loudspeaker and says, ‘Move away, you’re too close to the Hollywood sign.’ I think somebody is sitting in a room somewhere watching to see if someone jumps the fence.

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Third Street Promenade

I used to breakdance when I was younger, so I really enjoy watching the street performers there. Sometimes you see some incredible talent. The most memorable performance I saw was a classical guitar player. I asked him to play the theme song from Deerhunter, which I’ve heard played by some of the greatest guitarists in the world, and this guy played it as well as I’d ever heard it. I gave him a $50 tip.

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Al and Ed’s Auto Sound

If you want to pimp your ride, these are the guys that’ll do it. I bought a very unique gold and black Hurst Mustang that had a stock stereo, but I wanted something high end. They put in an Alpine system with a touch screen and Bluetooth, and they even found a way to put 10-inch subwoofers in the trunk. If you want someone to do an artistic job on your vehicle, they’re great.

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It’s a classic, ocean-side restaurant and bar built right on the rocky outcrop of the Malibu coastline. On a warm summer’s day at sunset, it’s an incredible place to be. They have these great lounging booths facing towards the horizon. At night, the waves are lapping against the pier and everything just flickers under the moonlight. It’s very romantic.

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Photographs courtesy (in order): (1) Google street view, (2) flickr/MoToMo, (3) Google street view, (4) Google street view, (6) (7), (8), (8), (9), (10)