A few years ago you’d of been forgiven for saying “Ben Who?” But those days are thankfully behind us now. Benjamin Thomas Barnes was born on August 20, 1981 in London, England, a place he still calls home today. Ben first crept out of obscurity in 2008 playing the title role in the screen adaptation of the second in the series of C.S Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia as Prince Caspian, a role he reprises in the third installment, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader opening this month. Barnes is often compared to fellow Brit thespian Orlando Bloom. Nonthreatening and gentlemanly, Ben certainly ticks all the same tall, dark and handsome boxes Bloom can – right down to the doe brown come-hither eyes, the bright smile and dreamy English accent. Though there is a strong physical resemblance there are eerie similarities in their careers as well: both were fast tracked to fame in major motion picture fantasy sagas- (Uncannily, Lord of the Rings author J.R.R Tolkien and C.S Lewis were close friends- FACT) and both also began their careers in British television medical dramas (Casualty and Doctors respectively). But to equate them too readily would be to sell both actors talents short.
Barnes was a member of the National Youth Music Theatre between 1997 and 2003, where both his musical and theatrical talents were first put to the test. A man of many talents, he can sing, plays the piano and the drums- as he displayed in Bugsy Malone at The Queen’s Theater in 1997 at the tender age of 16. Before landing the gig in the adaptation of C.S Lewis’s classic fantasy, Ben was again on stage in the UK touring production of The History Boys as “Dakin” in the fall of 2006. When the opportunity of Prince Caspian came up, he was forced to terminate his contract early to appear on the silver screen.
I am sure Ben would like us to forget that for a fleeting moment in 2004 he was part of a boyband called Hyrise- who vied to be the UK entry in the Eurovision Song Contest with a song entitled “Leading Me On”. They came in second. But we at Ones2Watch4 forget NOTHING! There is no doubting the boy can sing of course and in truth he would have been wasted as part of a pop band. Far better he put his musicality to use on the screen as he did in Easy Virtue in 2009 and again in the upcoming Killing Bono (2011) – a film about two Irish brothers attempt to become rock stars who can only look on as old school friends become U2 and the biggest band in the world.
It’s not only music however, that has had an impact on Barnes’ career. It seems as though literature and the stage have also played their part: from Narnia to the modern adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s classic Dorian Gray (2009) and Noel Coward’s Easy Virtue (originally a staged play) both co-starring the dashing Colin Firth, to his current role on the stage in Birdsong (based on the novel by Sebastian Faulks). Of course Barnes’ career has occasionally bucked this trend. We have seen him take on some more unique films like the small Brit flick Bigga than Ben in 2007, a black comedy about two Russian immigrants and their guide to ripping off London, the American psychological drama Locked In (2010) alongside Eliza Dushku and of course the forthcoming Killing Bono.
With every role Ben has taken: from dashing fairy tale prince to foreign street thug to the most refined English gentleman we know him to be he has shown his passion, dedication and that he really is One2Watch4. We predict that his popularity will continue to increase and look forward to him becoming a household name over the next few years. Looks, voice, and talent…What’s not to like?
Ben reading at the LA Times Book Festival
Trailer for the yet unreleased Locked In:
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