Interview: Ben Barnes Of Prince Caspian

By Katey Rich 2008-05-15 19:09:52discussion comments
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Interview: Ben Barnes Of Prince Caspian image
You may be sick of seeing Ben Barnesí face all over posters, billboards and your television, but you probably donít feel nearly as weird about it as he does. The 25-year-old British actor, whose biggest movie role before this was in 2006ís little-seen The History Boys, is the star of one of Mayís biggest movies, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. With a Mediterranean accent, a hairpiece and a big olí sword, Caspian in the movie isnít a whole lot like Barnes himselfóin fact, Barnes is much more fun to be around. After the interview youíll read below, the collected journalists found him out in the hallway, playing with a plastic version of the sword he himself carries in the movie. Call me crazy, but it seems that Prince Caspian himself should not have to ask for a version of his own swordóit should be handed to him on a platter.

Read below for our interview with Barnes, who lied his way into the part by saying he could ride horses, pretended a wire on a stick was his hero Eddie Izzard, and thinks he might have a future in dandruff commercials thanks to his breakout role.

Were you pleased seeing yourself in the completed film?
I canít believe they made a film out of it. Itís been so long since we finished, I was wondering what they were doing. Now I see, because itís so different from what we actually were making.

Is it surreal to see yourself on all these billboards? Theyíre using your face as the selling point.
L.A. is a really dangerous place to be this week if youíre me. Just donít drive down Sunset Boulevard, because itís dangerous. They just leave me completely breathless. You get this slight tingle of nerves, and youíre not quite sure why, because itís this 8-story man on a building looking down at you. You know that itís you, and you know that itís a character youíve played, and yet thereís a part of you that just refuses to acknowledge that. Itís a very, very difficult emotion to explain. Itís almost quite confusing to see yourself on those things. Yes, itís very surreal. Someone says thereís going to be an action figure, and you think, ĎAmazing, I played with He-Man and Transformers.í And then you realize what you did with your He-Man and Transformers, which was smash them against each other, and chew their arms off. You think, itís cool to have an action figure if itís a collector in a box, but what theyíre really there for is for people to smash them up.

Youíre doing this movie with the four kids who grew up together working on the film. Did they make it easy for you?
Oh, completely. When I got the part, I got the DVD and watched all the DVD extras. I listened to Georgie sit there, like, ĎOh yeah, Willís like my brother, and Andrewís like the dad when dadís not there, and itís all lovely and itís really nice.í And I just thought, ĎOh, get me a bucket. I donít believe you.í And then I walked into the production office on the first day, and they were playing table tennis with each other, and they were sitting on each others laps and sharing ice cream. It was like something out of a Disney film. [We all pause for a moment and remember that Prince Caspian is, in fact, a Disney film]. Right. It really was like that. There was a family atmosphere on set, and they were all very welcoming. Anna and Will were a little emotional last night, knowing it was their last one. What people donít realize is that Anna is now 19, and Willís 21, and they were 13 and 15 when they first auditioned for these movies. Itís a big part of your childhood to give up to a project of this size. I think itís 100% worth it, theyíve got something to really show for it. But itís emotional for them. Itís hard for him to give me that sword at the end of the movie, you can see.

Did the scenes all remain intact from the way you shot them?
Iím not sure any scene remained intact, to be honest. Most of the dialogue changed, from what I can remember, because the animated characters you can change up to the last minute. Reepicheepís dialogue was nothing like what it was in the script. But it was brilliant, I mean, Eddie Izzard is one of my heroes. Iíve seen him countless times onstage. To have done scenes with him that he wasnít even there for is a great treat.

How did you do scenes with him? Did they play back audio on the set?
No, it was somebody reading from a script over there [he gestures to a far corner]. And a really long pole over there with a wireóyou know, when he jumps on me, thatís what scene Iím talking about. Youíre talking to a wire with a little orange dot on the top. I found that hard to get used to. As Andrew said, before he showed us the film yesterday, itís about trust. We have to trust that heís going to make it look awesome, and I think he delivered.

What are some of the other differences between making the movie and what you see on the screen?
The scale of things, like the castle, as well. I remember one day on set Andrew came up to meóI was staring at one of the turrets with my mouth agape, and he came up to me and went ĎShut your mouthí or something. And I said, ĎI just canít get over the scale of it. You built a castle. Thanks. I appreciate it.í And he went, ĎYeah. This will be three times bigger when weíre done with it.í And it was! You wonder when youíre shooting, and youíre filming against the backdrop of the How, and youíve got a tiny bit of green screen at the top of the How, and itís just there and you kind of ignore it. And then you go back, and you see it when we come out, and itís three times bigger. Theyíve got that little bracket, and they can build anything they want above that. I thought it was really impressive, and kind of overwhelming. I need to see it again, really, because I feel like I missed most of it. What I was most pleased about, I think, was the relationship between myself and Peter and Susan Pevensie. I thought they were a lot of more subtle than they felt when we were filming, and a lot more borne out of the situations that they found themselves in, rather than just hate each othersí characters or just having a bit of an eye for each other.

Are you a master swordsman and horseman now?
Hell yeah!

Well, talk about that training and how youíll be using it in the future.
Winning the hearts of damsels in distress, I think, is how Iíll be using it on the streetÖ yo. But no, I did some very solid horse training when I got there, because I hadnít got any horse experience even though I might have suggested that I did. So I was literally five or six hours a day, I bought some padded cycling shorts to ease the comfort, and I had these great Spanish teachers who went through everything with me. After a couple of weeks it just clicks into place. As you can see, Iím going through rivers and riding with flaming torches up and down ramps and through trees. It was amazing. Itís totally exhilarating. Itís like a ride at Disneyland.

And sword skills?
The sword fighting is just as much fun as it looks. And I canít lose, because Iím in the next one.

Will you have any time between now and the start of Dawn Treader to film anything else? Have you done anything else?
I shot a film with Colin Firth and Jessica Biel called Easy Virtue, a Noel Coward play adaptation. A very different British farce, kind of Meet the Very Posh British Parents. Then I hope to be doing something in the summer.

In Spanish, ďcaspaĒ means ďdandruff.Ē Like ďCaspian.Ē So my son is asking me, ĎDoes he really have dandruff?í
Oh, no! Really?! Well, thatís a Head and Shoulders campaign coming my way.

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