Actor Manu Bennett, who portrays deputy Bill Kitka in the vampire movie 30 DAYS OF NIGHT, was born in New Zealand and grew up in Australia. He was first interested in music and dance, primarily because his girlfriend at the time was a dancer. He then got into acting, which was more creatively and emotionally satisfying for the performer.
Manu admits he's much more of a "method" type rather than "classical" actor, in that he draws up the emotion from within so it will come through the character. Bill Kitka is supposed to be part Inuit and with Manu's being 1/6th Maori, helped him with that "Native" identification, though not really any Inuit culture is seen in the movie.
The Billy Kitka character is such a great role for an actor, as he changes radically from the beginning to end of the movie. At first, he's in control and has a good marriage and kids, and he wants his friend Ebon (Josh Hartnett as the sheriff) to reconcile with is wife Stella. In fact, when Stella gets stranded in the town for the winter after she misses her plane, she's offered a place to stay by Billy and his family. Much later in the film, after the horrific attack by the vampires, the survivors find Billy still alive in his house, a haunted expression etched on his face because he did the only thing he thought he could do to protect his family from the horrible fate of the vampires…he shot them. But when he went to shoot himself the gun jammed.
This particular scene was Manu's audition scene and when he performed it he knew he nailed the role. Ironically, when it was time to actually shoot the scene in the movie, he didn't quite have that same feeling, though it comes across great on screen. It was a horrifying scene and provokes a mixture of emotion because the viewer can partly understand why he did what he did. The one thing Manu said he wished was improved upon is that there should have been a scene in the movie with Billy's family, so we could see him interact with them. It could only have made the scene more powerful.
Working with actor Josh Hartnett and Melissa George was the first time he worked wit "Hollywood" type actors. When asked for any anecdotes about them he cites that Hartnett was insistent on having his character Ebon with a beard, as all the other men in the community are bearded. But Sony, the producer, would not roll the cameras until he shaved, because they believed it would affect attracting the females to the theater if he had beard. So there was kind of a stand-off on the set.
Of the actual production, they were shooting in the same mountain area where LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy was shot, and in that first scene, in which Ebon and Billy climb up a snow drift and look out at the frozen ocean, they were really looking at those craggy mountains. It was also a bright, sunny day and they had to go back and remove their shadows in the snow with CGI. When Bennett saw the finished scene, how it is in the film, he was amazed.
When asked how it was to do the scene in which he was killed, literally split in half, he said shooting it was hilarious. They had him in front of a green screen and tubes of blood were shooting all over the place. Again, this was put together with the magic of CGI.
By coincidence, Manu also appeared in another Sam Raimi production way back in the 90's, an episode of XENA in which he portrayed Marc Antony. There was also the premiere episode of THE BEASTMASTER television series, in which he looks very different. In fact, when he went to the premiere of 30 DAYS OF NIGHT in Hollywood everyone paid attention to all the actors but him because, clean shaven and different hair, he looked nothing like the Billy Kitka character. In fact, when someone introduced him as that character the person simply didn't believe him.
Right now Manu is cast in an action film which originally slated Jean Claude Van Damme, who is no longer working on it. While they cast another lead actor to take over that role, Manu prepares by gaining forty pounds of bulk to portray his character. After all, he does take his roles very seriously.