Benjamin Thomas "Ben" Barnes (born 20 August 1981) is an English actor. He is known for his portrayal of Caspian X in The Chronicles of Narnia films Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, for playing the title character in the 2009 adaptation of Dorian Gray, for his supporting roles in the films The Words and The Big Wedding, and for his portrayal of American Founding Father Samuel Adams in the 2015 miniseries, Sons of Liberty.
Early life and education
Barnes was born in London, to Tricia, a relationship therapist, and Thomas Barnes, a professor of psychiatry. He has a younger brother, Jack. His mother, who is Jewish, is originally from South Africa.
Barnes was educated at two independent schools for boys: Homefield Preparatory School in Sutton, Surrey and King's College School in Wimbledon, south-west London (where his classmates included the film actor Khalid Abdalla and comedian Tom Basden), followed by Kingston University in Kingston-upon-Thames, where he studied drama and English literature, and from which he graduated with BA Honours in 2004.
Early work and Prince Caspian
Barnes began his career in musical theatre. As a teenager, he spent a few years as part of the National Youth Music Theatre, whose alumni also include actors Jude Law and Jamie Bell. At fifteen, Barnes landed his first professional job as a drummer in the West End musical adaptation of Bugsy Malone. He was briefly a singer in the pop boy band Hyrise, which was in the running to represent the United Kingdom in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2004 with the song "Leading Me On"; however, they lost out to James Fox and "Hold Onto Our Love". Barnes began working in television in 2006, including a guest appearance on the UK series Doctors. That same year, he joined the ensemble cast of a West End production of The History Boys, in which he starred as the sexually provocative Dakin, a role originally played by Dominic Cooper on stage and in the film The History Boys.
Barnes made his feature film debut as Young Dunstan in 2007's Stardust, directed by Matthew Vaughn and based on the Neil Gaiman novel of the same name. Barnes then starred as a Russian hoodlum named Cobakka in Suzie Halewood's Bigga Than Ben, which was released in 2008 in the United Kingdom and other European countries.
In February 2007, it was announced that Barnes would play the role of Caspian in the film adaptation of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, directed by Andrew Adamson. Adamson said "Caspian is a coming of age and, to some degree, a loss of innocence story, with Caspian starting out quite naÃ¯ve, then craving revenge and finally letting go of the vengeance." While many readers interpret Caspian as a child, a passage in the novel mentions his age to be near that of Peter's, so an older actor was sought to match William Moseley. Barnes had read the novel as a child, and was cast in two-and-a-half weeks after meeting with the filmmakers. He spent two months in New Zealand horse riding and stunt training to prepare for shooting. Barnes says his Mediterranean accent in the movie was inspired in part by Mandy Patinkin's performance as Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride. Adamson did not expect to cast a British actor as Caspian, and said Barnes fit well into the surrogate family of Adamson and the four actors playing the Pevensies.
In the spring of 2008, Barnes finished filming the role of John Whittaker for NoÃ«l Coward's romantic comedy, Easy Virtue opposite Jessica Biel. Written and directed by Australian Stephan Elliott, the film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on 8 September 2008. The film has screened at the Rio, Rome, Abu Dhabi, London and Adelaide Film Festivals. It also screened at the Tribeca Film Festival prior to its U.S. release on 22 May 2009.
Barnes next starred in the title role in a film adaptation of Oscar Wilde's Dorian Gray, directed by Oliver Parker for Ealing Studios. The film was released on 9 September 2009, in the United Kingdom, and had its world premiere that month at the Toronto International Film Festival.
In May 2009, Barnes was nominated for MTV Movie Awards' Best Breakthrough Male for his performance in Prince Caspian, which went to Robert Pattinson from Twilight.
In June 2009, Barnes filmed the psychological thriller Locked In, directed by Suri Krishnamma, on location in Boston. In the movie (which was originally titled Valediction), Barnes plays an American father named Josh whose daughter seems to be in a coma after being in a car accident.
Barnes appeared as King Caspian in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the third installment in the series. Directed by Michael Apted, the movie was filmed from July to November 2009 in Brisbane, Australia, and released in December 2010.
In January 2010, Barnes began filming Killing Bono, a comedy based on the Neil McCormick memoir Killing Bono: I Was Bono's DoppelgÃ¤nger, in which McCormick recounts his youth in Ireland as an aspiring rock star who is overshadowed by his friend Bono, the lead singer of U2. Barnes played McCormick in Killing Bono, which is directed by Nick Hamm. Filming started at the beginning of January in the city of Lisburn. Killing Bono was released on 1 April 2011, in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Barnes returned to the West End stage in London, with a starring role as World War I soldier Stephen Wraysford in Birdsong, a drama based on the Sebastian Faulks novel of the same title. The play, directed by Trevor Nunn and adapted for the West End stage by writer Rachel Wagstaff, began previews at the Comedy Theatre in London on 18 September 2010, and opened on 28 September 2010. The play closed on 15 January 2011.
He was then cast alongside Bradley Cooper and Zoe Saldana in The Words. He played the younger version of Jeremy Irons character whose manuscript, based on his life in France, has been found by Bradley Cooper. The film opened to generally negative reviews from critics.
In 2013 Barnes had one film released, The Big Wedding, a remake of the original 2006 French film Mon frÃ¨re se marie (My brother is getting married). The movie starred an ensemble cast which included Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Katherine Heigl, Topher Grace, Amanda Seyfried, Susan Sarandon and Robin Williams. He played Alejandro Griffin, the adopted son of Don Griffin (played by Robert De Niro) and Ellie Griffin (played by Diane Keaton), who is getting married to Melissa "Missy" O'Connor (played by Amanda Seyfried). He asks his divorced parents to get along for the duration of his marriage as his biological mother, Madonna Soto (Patricia Rae), believes divorce to be a sin. The movie release on the 26 April 2013 to largely negative reviews. It currently holds a 7% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 101 reviews with the site's consensus stating that its 'all star cast is stranded in a contrived, strained plot that features broad stabs at humor but few laughs.'
Barnes played Thomas in the film Seventh Son (2014), an adaptation of the book The Spook's Apprentice. Filming began in March 2012. The same year, he starred as Sam Adams in the History Channel's three-part fictional mini-series Sons of Liberty.
Awards and nominations
- Ben Barnes at the Internet Movie Database