In 2008, the world of Narnia added a new character when Prince Caspian stepped on the scene and spotlighted talented newcomer Ben Barnes. Like many viewers, this was my first introduction to Barnes as he portrayed Caspian in the sequel to the hit movie. The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, fighting alongside the Pevensie siblings for the fate of Narnia against the corrupt King Miraz. A much younger me went to the movies that day for another trip to Narnia with the characters I knew and loved, and left with a new actor to follow as his career began to develop. With the role of Prince Caspian came a new level of fame for Barnes and another film from the Narnia trilogy, this time it was Voyage of the dawn ferryman. In Dawn treader we see Caspian move from a prince to his true role as King of Narnia and the responsibilities that follow. As a fan, it was an incredible experience watching Barnes grow up alongside his character to be a more established actor, bringing new layers and depth to his roles.
Over the years, Barnes has built an extensive resumes of independent films, television, and huge mainstream films. With his charm and those dark, deep eyes that draw you in, Barnes grabs your attention as soon as he steps onto the screen. With a penchant for choosing to play the ‘bad guys’ Barnes never fails to humanize them in one way or another and suddenly you catch yourself thinking, well maybe he’s not that bad. after all. In recent years, Barnes has really stolen the show in every project he’s been involved in, be it Marvel’s. punisher or HBO Westworld, he always leaves you wanting to know more about his characters.
As with many actors, the focus is on their more traditional roles while smaller projects are ignored. I’ll try to fix that by offering some of my favorite Ben Barnes roles below. I’m sure you’ve heard of it, but I hope you find a new movie or show to check out. As a warning, there may be a few slight spoilers below for the projects.
Shadow and bone (2021-)
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This Netflix TV series had to be the first I included on this list! Based on two series of books written by Leigh Bardugo, Shadow and bone is an amazing mix of fantasy and espionage. Barnes plays General Kirigan, also known as Darkling. With a name like that, you can guess which side this character lands on in the dynamic between the Grisha and the non-gifted individuals. The Grisha are people who can practice the little sciences, powers which are extensions of nature like wind, fire, heart, etc. Kirigan is a very rare Shadow Summoner who seeks his match in a Solar Summoner who will help defeat the Fold, a great band of pure darkness filled with monsters that divides the land in two. Barnes brings a deeply layered performance to Darkling that will make viewers consider his point of view instead of just writing him down as a textbook villain. Shadow and bone has been renewed for a season 2 soon available on Netflix.
Dorian Gray (2009)
Barnes plays the main character of Dorian Gray in this film adaptation directed by Oliver Parker. Alongside Colin Firth as Lord Henry Wotton, Barnes brings this classic character to life with new charismatic charm as we follow Gray on his descent into darkness. The film begins with Wotton taking Gray under his wing to show him the world of Victorian London and a portrait painted to capture Gray’s youthful beauty. When a promise is made that he would give anything to stay as perfect as he is in the picture, a soul is exchanged for eternal youth. Soon things take a turn when sins are committed and Gray notices that they show up as physical imperfections on the painting. Lies, seduction, and even murder set the stage for Gray’s inevitable destruction.
Marvel’s Punisher (2017-2019)
Another Netflix series, this time a Marvel antihero story centered around Frank Castle known as the Punisher. After the murder of Castle’s family, the veteran Marine becomes a vigilante whose only objective is to get revenge on the culprits. Barnes plays Castle’s best friend Billy Russo, having served together for eight years in the Marines, the two are like brothers. When it is revealed that Russo had betrayed his friend, all bets are off and all-out war breaks out between the two men. Russo might just be another cookie-cutter villain, but Barnes brings a sympathy to the character that’s very unexpected, especially in season two. This is not your normal Marvel series; get ready to experience a gritty, violent and at times heartbreaking story. If you have a soft spot in your heart for a villain like me, you will find it very moving to watch Russo’s Journey.
Jackie and Ryan (2014)
This movie is one of my personal favorites on this list. Jackie and Ryan is a story about the lives of two people grappling with life in their own way who unexpectedly intersect. Barnes plays Ryan, a nomadic train traveler who works hard to become a professional bluegrass musician. Jackie is played by Katherine Heigl, recently separated from her husband and fighting for custody of their daughter. Jackie finds it hard to come to terms with her past fame as a musician. Fate brings them together by chance and leads to a life-changing connection. Jackie challenges Ryan to make his own voice heard, while Ryan in turn helps give Jackie the confidence she needs to take control of her life. This heartwarming story is filled with many amazing bluegrass songs that will leave you wondering when will Ben Barnes release his own album? (We wait, Ben.)
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Westworld is a series that takes viewers to an amusement park that exceeds your wildest dreams. This futuristic park takes visitors back to the days of the Old West by using artificial intelligence known as hosts to help visitors live out their biggest fantasies as well as their deepest and darkest desires. Barnes plays Logan Delos, who runs his father’s business investing in Westworld. Her story begins by bringing her future brother-in-law to the park for a bachelor party that soon turns into more than they had planned. Again, we find Barnes playing a delightfully flawed character who just likes to cause trouble and might just be a simple trust fund playboy, but in Barnes’ hands Logan becomes more.
Easy virtue (2008)
This film is considered a hidden gem which is not known to many people. Easy virtue has a surprisingly stacked cast with Jessica Biel, Kristin Scott Thomas, and again we see Colin Firth and Barnes together in a movie. This comedy centers around American widow Larita, played by Biel, and Barnes’ character John Whittaker and their whirlwind romance. When the newlyweds return to England and the Whittaker family estate, they are not greeted with open arms, John’s mother takes a fairly immediate dislike of her new daughter-in-law. While trying to conquer her new family comedy ensues and family tensions rise. This film was relatively early in Barnes’ career and shows his ease with comedy.
seventh son (2014)
This film takes Barnes back to his fantastic roots as Tom Ward who is, as the title suggests, the seventh son of a seventh son, making him the new apprentice of a witch hunter. Barnes is once again surrounded by an impressive cast with Jeff Bridges, Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington and Julianne Moore. Gregory, played by Bridges, plays the last of his kind of witch-hunters who must find a new apprentice, which brings him to Ward. Together, they must locate and eliminate a group of witches who had nefarious plans that will change the fate of the world as they know it. Along the way, Ward meets a young woman named Alice, played by Vikander, who is half a witch and soon falls in love with her, much to Gregory’s dismay. This film is a roller coaster of a journey through a rich world full of creatures, characters and choices that will have major consequences. Barnes shows the full journey of a naive young man to a fully developed witch hunter, ready to hasten his destiny.
Kill Bono (2011)
In this film, Barnes is seen to make full use of his acting skills alongside Robert Sheehan in a film that is very loosely based on a true story. The group that almost was: Imagine being friends with U2 in their pre-fame debut and watching them soar while you’re still in second place. This is what happened to the McCormick brothers. Barnes shows off his talents with an Irish accent in this film while playing Neil McCormick. Once again, his talented voice is on display as the leader of the group. If you’re looking for a dark comedy to check out, this movie is for you.
These are just a few of the many projects in Ben Barnes’ filmography that are worth considering. The amount of dedication and care that Barnes puts into every character he portrays is clearly evident on screen. He always shows such enthusiasm and enthusiasm for his projects and tends to share special moments behind the scenes on his social media. By taking a look at his Instagram you can easily see his love for music and his close relationship with his co-stars, the way they talk about him in interviews shows how kind he has a kind heart, generous and mentor. Barnes said it took him a while to find his place in the Hollywood limelight and do things he himself wanted to watch. The respect he has for his job and for everyone involved in getting to the finish line is evident. I’ve been proud to call myself a Barnes fan from 2008 until the present day, and can’t wait to see what season 2 of Shadow and bone will hold! In the closing moments of Season 1, the Darkling turns to look at the camera and says, “Follow”, and that’s what I plan to do. The future for Ben Barnes is bright and I plan to be there to see what he has in store.