Martin Henderson was a popular sight on-screen in his native New Zealand from the time he was a teenager, but he first caught the eye of American audiences with his role opposite Naomi Watts in the horror hit "The Ring" (2002). The dimpled, model-handsome actor - who quickly adopted a near-perfect American accent - proved that he could handle meaty roles in international dramas like "Sweet Dreams" (2003) and "Little Fish" (2005), but he reached Hollywood star status with cliché-riddled action fare like "Torque" (2006) and "Smokin' Aces" (2007). Few audiences were able to appreciate Henderson's performance in the politically-charged festival favorite "Battle in Seattle" (2007), but all his performances provided Henderson the opportunity to bring his best game to a larger mainstream audience.
Born on Oct. 8, 1974 in Auckland, New Zealand, Martin Henderson's pre-showbiz biography was brief, as he was "discovered" at an open TV audition in school when he was only 13 years old. He was already outgoing, athletic and a strong student, when producers of a regional TV show jumpstarted his career and introduced him to his life's calling. He appeared in several shows including a three-year stint on the hugely popular hospital soap "Shortland Street" (1992- ), for which he earned a Best Male Dramatic Performance award from the New Zealand Television & Film Awards. Henderson kept up with his regular student life throughout his early rise in show business, and following his graduation from Westlake Boys High School in Auckland, he headed to Sydney, Australia, in search of new opportunities.
It did not take long for Aussies to take notice. Henderson landed spots on the nighttime soap "Home and Away" (1998- ), and the jock-u-drama "Sweat" (1996), where he struck up a friendship with fellow actor Heath Ledger. Though Ledger was only 16, 20-year-old Henderson encouraged the high school student to leave Perth for Sydney and make a go at becoming a professional actor. Ledger arrived at Henderson's door with one bag and a surfboard and the future stars became roommates. Henderson began a two-year run on "Big Sky" (1997-99), for which he learned to pilot an airplane, before quitting the cockpit to make his big screen debut in "Kick" (1999). The drama about a teenage boy enduring the social backlash of pursuing ballet earned Henderson a Best Supporting Actor award from the Australian Film Institute for his role as the conflicted teen's best friend.
Even with more than a decade of credits to his name, Henderson knew that a move to Hollywood was imminent if he wanted to break through to international audiences. Following his success with "Kick" he chose to make his first U.S. crash pad New York City, where he spent a solid two years training at the Neighborhood Playhouse and appearing in off-Broadway productions. Giving in to the promise land of Los Angeles, Henderson landed a small role in the Nicholas Cage WWII drama "Windtalkers" (2002), before scoring big as a video nerd-turned-sleuth in the horror hit "The Ring" (2002) opposite Naomi Watts. The suspenseful, complex story was well-reviewed by critics and did well at the box office. Best of all, it finally put the handsome imported actor in front of a large audience who flocked to see the horror film in droves.
In no time, he was promoted to Hollywood leading man with "Torque" (2004), a motorcycle-based thriller that fared well at the box office, but missed the mark in its attempt at genre parody. The actor's unpredictable career choices became more evident with his appearance in "Bride and Prejudice" (2004), a raucous Bollywood adaptation of Jane Austen starring Aishwarya Rai, as well as "Little Fish" (2005), in which Henderson was compelling as an amputee drug dealer to Cate Blanchett, who earned a Best Actress Award from the Australian Film Institute. Between the two projects, Henderson lent his beefcake build to several music videos by Britney Spears.
Perhaps in an effort to redeem himself from his appearances on MTV, Henderson returned to the theater in 2006, playing opposite Juliette Lewis in a West End production of Sam Shepard's "Fool for Love." Back in Hollywood, Henderson shot the dismal Quentin Tarantino/Guy Ritchie wannabe caper "Smokin' Aces" (2007) before filming an ABC pilot for "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" - an adaptation of the 2005 Brangelina vehicle that failed to impress the network; thus never hitting the airwaves. Henderson proved that he still had many facets to explore and that perhaps his best work was ahead of him when he took a leading role in the indie film "Battle in Seattle" (2007), a fictionalized chronicle of anti-World Trade Organization demonstrations that shook the city in 1999.
Cast (Feature Film)
Landed his first recurring TV role on "Home and Away"
Appeared in "The Ring"
Joined the cast of "Off the Map"
Landed the role of Dr. Nathan Riggs on "Grey's Anatomy"
Was cast in "Everest"