Right Man For the Job

ENGLISH AC­TOR BEN BARNES CHATS WITH DA MAN ABOUT HIS UP­COM­ING AP­PEAR­ANCE IN MARVEL’S “THE PUN­ISHER” AND THE VI­SION BE­HIND HIT TV SE­RIES “WEST­WORLD”

DA MAN - - Celebrities - PHO­TOG­RA­PHY MITCHELL NGUYEN MCCOR­MACK STYLING SUZI REZLER

english ac­tor ben barnes chats with DA MAN about his up­com­ing ap­pear­ance in Marvel’s “the pun­isher” and the vi­sion be­hind hit TV se­ries “West­world.” Pho­tog­ra­phy Mitchell nguyen McCor­mack

“Find­ing a way to be proud oF the Fin­ished prod­uct is a more im­por­tant goal than ac­co­lades”

For english ac­tor Ben Barnes, life in hol­ly­wood started off like a fairy tale. al­most lit­er­ally, that is, as his big screen de­but was in 2007’s “star­dust.” he then went on to be­come a house­hold name when he played the tit­u­lar Prince (and later king) Caspian X in the sec­ond and third “the Chron­i­cles of nar­nia” movies. these days, how­ever, his big­gest suc­cess sto­ries have been on tV, with ma­jor roles in hit se­ries “West­world” and the up­com­ing marvel’s “the Pun­isher.” in the lat­ter, which will soon start air­ing on net­flix, he plays op­po­site Jon Bern­thal in what is per­haps the dark­est en­try in the marvel Cin­e­matic uni­verse yet. nat­u­rally, he has quite a few tales to tell about his new show, and the jour­ney that got him there. da man: hi, Ben. great to have you with us. a lot of us are ex­cited for “the Pun­isher” which will come out later this year. how are you feel­ing as we inch ever closer to the show’s premiere? Ben Barnes: i’m ex­cited to share what we’ve made with ev­ery­one. more than any­thing i’ve worked on, with this prop­erty, i’m ex­tremely aware of the pas­sion­ate fan base. i see Pun­isher tat­toos and t-shirts and hats and stick­ers on vans ev­ery­where i go now and i re­ally hope the show lives up to their ex­pec­ta­tions.

da: you’ve been in the in­dus­try for quite a long time and have been part of many ma­jor pro­duc­tions. Still, was there any­thing about work­ing on a marvel show that man­aged to sur­prise you? BB: i was re­ally pleased at the grounded, tough ap­proach to the ma­te­rial. Our show is about men suf­fer­ing tragedy and trauma; it’s about a very real topic set in a world of su­per­heroes—but no char­ac­ter in our show has su­per­pow­ers and that makes it feel unique in this uni­verse. da: lately, the pub­lic sees be­ing cast in a su­per­hero movie or tv show as a ma­jor mile­stone, seal of ap­proval and ca­reeren­hanc­ing move all rolled into one. in your opin­ion, is it?

BB: i don’t think so. i love watch­ing all kinds of films in­clud­ing block­busters. and it’s a nice badge to be in­cluded in the uni­verse we know so well, cer­tainly. all ac­tors imag­ine if they were a su­per­hero or vil­lain, which one would it be? in my case, it’s not one i ever thought of but it’s nice to be able to de­fine one with­out too many ex­pec­ta­tions of how he should be! da: on a more per­sonal note, what would you say is the best or most re­ward­ing part of be­ing on “the Pun­isher”?

BB: Jon Bern­thal is one huge pos­i­tive. his grace and lead­er­ship and hu­mor and the way he chal­lenges you. he’s de­fin­i­tive in the role of Frank Cas­tle.

da: how about the most chal­leng­ing? or should we say, the most pun­ish­ing?

BB: ha! it was a great chal­lenge to find a char­ac­ter to ap­pear op­po­site the Pun­isher. When a char­ac­ter is com­pelling and vi­o­lent and charis­matic like that, the chal­lenge is to find the qual­i­ties that will bal­ance him out or com­ple­ment him. it was also pretty phys­i­cally gru­el­ing in the ac­tion se­quences—a lot of very cold night shoots in Brook­lyn, new york. i al­ways had some in­jury or other dur­ing the course of the sea­son. da: we’re also look­ing for­ward to the re­turn of “west­world” next year. is there any­thing you can tell us about what to ex­pect in the show’s sec­ond sea­son? BB: i wish i knew any­thing. But if i did, i wouldn’t tell you! da: “west­world” is both a crit­i­cal and com­mer­cial suc­cess. to­day, over half a year af­ter the first sea­son’s fi­nale, what do you think was the key to this amaz­ing suc­cess story?

BB: i think the showrun­ners’ vi­sion is ev­ery­thing. the source ma­te­rial from michael Crich­ton is a great launch­ing point but the way Jonah and lisa [se­ries’ cre­ator Jonathan nolan and lisa hay] have crafted ev­ery as­pect of the show from de­sign to cast to mu­sic to the com­pelling twists and turns is as­tound­ing. they’re re­ally spe­cial tal­ents and i can’t say enough good things about both of them.

da: look­ing back at “west­world,” at your time on the set of “the Pun­isher” or at any of your past per­for­mances, which roles would you say have been com­plete game chang­ers for your ca­reer? and why? BB:

i think “the Chron­i­cles of nar­nia” cer­tainly took me from ob­scu­rity and gave me the op­por­tu­nity to make a ca­reer out of act­ing. “West­world” has given me the con­fi­dence that i can be in­volved with the most cre­ative peo­ple in en­ter­tain­ment and i’m very proud of the film “Jackie and ryan,” per­son­ally. i just re­ally like that film and i think find­ing a way to be proud of the fin­ished prod­uct is a more im­por­tant goal than ac­co­lades and of­ten elu­sive.

da: and now for some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent: about a cou­ple of years ago, we started notic­ing the rise of English ac­tors in hol­ly­wood—the so­called “Bri­tish in­va­sion,” if you will. what is it like to­day for an English ac­tor work­ing in the u.S. film in­dus­try? BB:

i think trends and mo­men­tum can in­flu­ence cer­tain cast­ing choices, but in gen­eral i like to hope—or maybe pre­tend—that the best man or woman will pre­vail and get the job. But, there is dis­ap­point­ment and ela­tion what­ever level you’re at.

da: Still about be­ing an ac­tor in to­day’s movie in­dus­try: how much of an im­pact does hav­ing an ac­tive so­cial me­dia pres­ence have on your ca­reer? BB:

again, i’m sure it can, but i only use it as a tool to share some­thing of my­self with those who have sup­ported me and watch my shows and films—and plays when i do them. and to hear from them too. it’s the per­fect fo­rum for that and i’ve had such un­be­liev­ably loyal sup­port; in some cases for many years, but now i can have some in­sight into their thoughts on what i’m up to.

da: all things con­sid­ered, are you happy with where you are right now? BB:

Very; i’m very ex­cited for what’s next.

da: what would be the next big thing or ca­reer mile­stone that you’re hop­ing to achieve in the near fu­ture? BB:

i don’t re­ally see mile­stones, ca­reer-wise. i would love to con­tinue to find in­ter­est­ing projects to de­vote my­self to.

da: By the way, do you have any­thing in the works right now? new movies or tv se­ries? BB:

i do have a show and pos­si­bly an­other pro­ject in the works, but i don’t want to jinx them!

da: out­side of work, what else are you pas­sion­ate about? what do you usu­ally do when you can set aside a bit of “me time”? BB:

i love sto­ries, film and tV shows. luck­ily, i can pre­tend its re­search ev­ery time i’m on my sofa. i’m very pas­sion­ate about the­atre and com­edy and live mu­sic. i love ten­nis, play­ing and watch­ing it. i’m very lucky with friends, friends who like to cook and play games or go on ad­ven­tures. so i play catch up with all that when i’m not work­ing!

da: look­ing at, say, your twit­ter feed, you’re some­times quite vo­cal about cur­rent af­fairs and ac­tivism. are there any par­tic­u­lar causes that you sup­port or are in­volved in? BB:

i can’t help my­self but get in­volved when the world seems to spin into dis­ar­ray and you don’t feel any con­trol or that your voice counts. so, any way i can help voice the con­cerns of those who don’t feel they have a plat­form. there are causes that we should all be aware of and sup­port and push all the time in terms of equal­ity for race and gen­der and oth­ers that are more per­sonal to me, like the make-a-Wish foun­da­tion and so on.

da: how do you deal with the pres­sure and in­creased pub­lic at­ten­tion that comes with your celebrity sta­tus?

BB: i have found any new­found pub­lic at­ten­tion from “West­world” to be very pos­i­tive. i think lo­gan is a char­ac­ter cer­tain guys re­spond to and they are happy to shout at me on the streets of new york about what a dick i am—which i’m tak­ing as a com­pli­ment, whether they meant it that way or not!

da: Fi­nal ques­tion: what is your se­cret to be­ing happy? BB:

“this above all: to thine own self be true.” i know it’s a dick move to quote shake­speare in an in­ter­view, but my dad al­ways quoted this to me and i think au­then­tic­ity in your per­sonal life is the key to not car­ry­ing the poi­son in the world around with you.

“luck­ily, i can pre­tend its re­search ev­ery time i’m on my soFa”

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