Karl Urban was born in Wellington, New Zealand. His father, a German immigrant, owned a leather goods store, and his mother once worked for Film Facilities in Wellington. Through his mother, the young Urban was exposed to classic New Zealand cinema, and developed an interest in the film industry. Urban attended St Mark's Church School, where he showed an early love for public performance. His first acting role came at age eight, when he had a single line in one episode of the New Zealand television series Pioneer Woman. Though continuing to take part in school stage productions, he did not act professionally again until after high school. He attended Wellington College in 1986–1990, then Victoria University of Wellington in the Bachelor of Arts program for one year, then left to pursue his acting career. Over the next few years, he appeared in several local TV commercials in addition to theater roles in the Wellington area. Eventually he moved to Auckland, where he was offered many guest roles in TV shows (one of which was playing a heroin addict in the police drama Shark in the Park). Urban then moved briefly to Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia in 1995, before returning to New Zealand the following year.
Urban married Natalie Wihongi (who was his makeup artist on The Privateers) in September 2004. Together they have two sons: Hunter, born November 2000, and Indiana ("Indy"), born January 2005 and named for the eponymous hero of the Indiana Jones franchise, which Urban has cited as among his favorite films, with the exception of The Crystal Skull. They live in Auckland, New Zealand. Urban serves as a celebrity ambassador for KidsCan, a charity which currently supports over 16,000 disadvantaged children in New Zealand by providing them with essentials such as food, clothing, and shoes. He is a fan of rugby union; in particular, the New Zealand All Blacks national team.
It was always something I knew I was capable of and from an early age my mother was involved in the film industry. She used to work at a production company. So I was exposed to a renaissance period of films in New Zealand back in the early 80's.
My philosophy is whatever you do, you've got to invest in yourself. If you don't, there are a lot of people out there who will get the job because they're more prepared than you.