Ben Barnes (actor)

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Ben Barnes
Ben Barnes Redcarpet.jpg
Barnes in 2019
Benjamin Thomas Barnes

(1981-08-20) 20 August 1981 (age 40)
London, England
Alma materKingston University
  • Actor
  • singer
Years active1997–present

Benjamin Thomas Barnes (born 20 August 1981) is an English actor and singer. He is best known for his roles as Prince Caspian in The Chronicles of Narnia film series, Logan Delos in Westworld, Billy Russo/Jigsaw in the Marvel series The Punisher, and General Kirigan/The Darkling in the Netflix series Shadow and Bone.

He also played young Dustan Thorn in Stardust (2007), the titular role in Dorian Gray (2009), Neil McCormick in Killing Bono (2011), Alejandro in The Big Wedding (2013), Tom Ward in Seventh Son (2014), Samuel Adams in Sons of Liberty (2015) and Benjamin Greene in Gold Digger (2019).

Barnes released his first single "11:11" with a music video in September 2021 ahead of the release of his debut extended play Songs For You including a music video for "Rise Up" in October. The EP features songs "11:11", "Rise Up", "Pirate Song", "Not The End", and "Ordinary Day".[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Barnes was born in south-west London to Patricia Becker, a relationship psychotherapist, and Thomas Barnes, a psychiatrist and professor.[2][3][4] He has a younger brother, Jack.[5] Barnes cites his mother's Jewish South African childhood, his father's scientific education, and his attendance at what he felt was a "vaguely Christian" school where he "liked the hymns" as formative influences.[6][7]

Barnes was educated at two independent schools for boys: Homefield Preparatory School in Sutton and King's College School in Wimbledon.[8] In King's, he sang in choirs and played percussions (drums and piano) in jazz orchestras and concert bands. In 1997 he began his career in musical theatre by joining the National Youth Music Theatre where, at age 16, he gave his first performance as a drummer in the West End musical adaptation of Bugsy Malone.[3][2] Prior to university, he spent two years singing, television presenting, and working with entertainment svengali Simon Fuller to open a jazz club and launch an album which both did not materialize.[5]

Barnes then studied English literature and drama at Kingston University, appearing and directing in productions such as Don Juan (as the lead), The Golden Age, Exposure and The Zoo Story.[9][5] He won the English Prize for writing essays on themes from Harry Potter and The Hobbit.[10] While working at the theatre on intense acts such as The Ragged Child, The Dreaming, Loving Ophelia, Sex Chip and Rock ‘N’Roll, he briefly joined the boyband Hyrise, longlisted as the UK's 2004 Eurovision entry with their song Leading Me On.[2][11] Graduating in 2004 with a BA (Hons) in Drama with English Literature, he was the university's first drama student to achieve First Class Honours.[9][12] In 2008, he was inducted in the university's Wall of Fame, the youngest to be featured among more than 20 accomplished alumni.[13]


Barnes at the UK premiere of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, June 2008.

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 and received acclaim as the sexually provocative Dakin.[14][15][5]

Barnes made his feature film debut as young Dunstan Thorn in Stardust (2007), directed by Matthew Vaughn and based on Neil Gaiman's novel of the same name. He starred as a Russian hoodlum named Cobakka in Suzie Halewood's Bigga Than Ben (2008).[16]

In June 2008, Barnes gained recognition in his role as Prince Caspian in The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, directed by Andrew Adamson.[17] Adamson described the film as "a coming of age and, to some degree, a loss of innocence story, with Caspian starting out quite naïve, then craving revenge and finally letting go of the vengeance."[18] 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 was cast two-and-a-half weeks after meeting with the filmmakers, and fitted well into the surrogate family of Adamson and the four actors playing the Pevensies.[19] He spent two months in New Zealand horse riding and stunt training in preparation.[20] His Mediterranean accent in the movie was inspired in part by Mandy Patinkin's performance as Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride.[21] Barnes also voiced his character in the video game The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. His portrayal earned him nominations from the 2008 National Movie Awards for Best Male Performance, the 2008 Teen Choice Awards for Choice Movie Breakout Male, and the 2009 MTV Movie Awards for Best Breakthrough Male.[22]

In November 2008, Barnes starred in the role of John Whittaker opposite Jessica Biel and Colin Firth in Stephan Elliott's romantic comedy Easy Virtue, based on Noël Coward's play of the same name. The score contained Coward and jazz-age songs, three of which were sung by Barnes. He then starred as the title role in Dorian Gray, a film adaptation of Oscar Wilde's novel, directed by Oliver Parker and released in September 2009.[23] In the psychological thriller Locked In, directed by Suri Krishnamma and released in September 2010, he played Josh, an American father whose daughter seems to be in a coma due to a car accident.

Barnes reprised his role as King Caspian in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the third installment in the film series. Directed by Michael Apted and filmed in Australia, it premiered in November 2010 at a Royal Film Performance in London and had a theatrical release in December.[24][25][26] He received a nomination at the 2011 National Movie Awards for Performance of the Year.

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 Sebastian Faulks's novel of the same title. The play, directed by Trevor Nunn and adapted by Rachel Wagstaff, opened on September 28, 2010 and run through January 15, 2011.[27][28]

In April 2011, he played Neil McCormick in Killing Bono, a comedy based on McCormick's memoir I Was Bono's Doppelgänger, 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.[29][30] The Hollywood Reporter says Barnes and his co-star Robert Sheehan "convincingly portray young talents who were in the right place at the right time but made the wrong moves".[31]

In September 2012, Barnes appeared in The Words as a young American soldier and literary genius stationed in France during the end of World War II, who fell in love with a French waitress and whose manuscript gets lost in post-war era.[32] Though his performance was physical with little to no dialogue, Screen Rant described his character's story as "easily the most fascinating element of the film" and called his performance "solid" which "beautifully captures the many profound emotions — love, loss, and regret — that his character experienced."[33][34]

He then played Alejandro in The Big Wedding, a remake of the original 2006 French film Mon frère se marie (My brother is getting married) released in April 2013.[35]

In December 2014, Barnes starred as Nick Tortano, an associate of a local mafia boss, in the modern day crime drama By the Gun. In the same month was the release of the fantasy film Seventh Son in which he played Tom Ward.[36][37] Directed by Sergei Bodrov, it is based on the novel The Spook's Apprentice by Joseph Delaney.[38][39]

In January 2015, Barnes portrayed Sam Adams, a tax collector for the British government, in History Channel's three-part fictional mini-series Sons of Liberty.[40] He also starred as guitarist and singer Ryan Brenner, reuniting with Katherine Heigl in the romantic drama Jackie & Ryan, released in US cinemas in July 2015. Variety writes "his male-model features shamelessly lapped up by the camera from the opening frame onwards, [Barnes] is as limber and likeable as he's yet appeared on screen, his native accent convincingly hidden behind a middle-American husk."[41] Barnes would later regard this character as his most favorite to portray, "I enjoyed all the music from that film and found Ryan a soulful character to embody, which made me try to re-evaluate how complicated life can get."[42]

In HBO's dystopian science fiction series Westworld, based on the 1973 film of the same name and the first season of which aired in October 2016, Barnes played the young businessman Logan Delos, the uninhibited heir apparent of Delos Corporation who led their company's investment into Westworld, a technologically built Wild West-themed amusement park populated by android "hosts".[43] The cast received a nomination for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series at the 2017 Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Barnes portrayed Billy Russo, a former sniper who started his own private military company Anvil, in The Punisher, a Netflix adaptation set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the first season of which aired in November 2017.[44] Barnes described his character as "someone who's very narcissistic, vain and greedy, and sees himself in an extremely powerful alpha way" and who is also "fueled by a broken and abused past." To ensure the authenticity of his depiction of the veteran's mental health issues, he consulted his parents who are psychotherapists.[45][42]

He returned in a recurring role as Logan Delos in the second season of Westworld which premiered in April 2018. In January 2019, he reprised his role as a scar-faced Billy Russo in the second season of The Punisher. In this season Barnes said he "had freedom to explore the trauma of brain damage and memory loss and the frustration, anger and pain that accompanies that."[42] He then played the 36-year old charming copywriter Benjamin Greene who pursued a 60-year old wealthy divorcee in BBC One's miniseries Gold Digger. Originally broadcast weekly on BBC One from November 2019, it was aired on Acorn TV in May 2020 for US audience.[46] In October 2019, Barnes was cast as General Kirigan in the 2021 Netflix fantasy series Shadow and Bone.



Year Title Role Notes
2007 Stardust Young Dunstan Thorn
2008 Bigga than Ben Cobakka
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian Prince/King Caspian X
Easy Virtue John Whittaker
2009 Dorian Gray Dorian Gray
2010 Locked In Josh Sawyer
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader King Caspian X
2011 Killing Bono Neil McCormick
2012 The Words The Young Man
2013 The Big Wedding Alejandro Griffin
2014 Jackie & Ryan Ryan Brenner
By the Gun Nick Tortano
Seventh Son Thomas "Tom" Ward


Year Title Role Notes
2006 Doctors Craig Unwin Episode: "Facing Up"
Split Decision Chris Wilbur TV film
2015 Sons of Liberty Samuel "Sam" Adams Miniseries
Exposed Stoya TV film
2016–2020 Westworld Logan Delos Main role (season 1); recurring role (season 2); guest role (season 3)
2017–2019 The Punisher Billy Russo / Jigsaw Main role
2019 Gold Digger Benjamin Greene Miniseries
2021 Shadow and Bone General Kirigan / The Darkling Main role[47]

Music videos and video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2008 The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian Prince Caspian X Video game
2016 "Where's the Love?" N/A Music video: The Black Eyed Peas featuring The World
2020 "Soteria" N/A Music video: Mt. Wolf


Year Title Role Notes
1997 Bugsy Malone Drummer National Youth Music Theatre
The Ballad of Salomon Pavey Ralph National Youth Music Theatre
1999 The Ragged Child Anthony Ashley-Cooper National Youth Music Theatre
2001 The Dreaming Alexander National Youth Music Theatre
2002 Someone Who'll Watch Over Me Michael National Youth Music Theatre
2003 Exposure Harry Larkyns Kingston University Drama on Stage
2004 Loving Ophelia Dante Gabriel Rossetti The Pleasance Theatre
2005 Blag: The Musical Jimmy Jesus New Musicals
Sex, Chips & Rock n' Roll Justin DeVere Montague / The Wolf The Royal Exchange Theatre Company
Talking to Mr. Warner Corelli New Musicals
2006–2007 The History Boys Dakin Wyndham's Theatre
2010 Birdsong Stephen Wraysford Comedy Theatre


Year Title Album
2008 "A Room with a View" Easy Virtue Soundtrack
"I'll See You Again"
"When the Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going"
2011 "Do Anything You Wanna Do" Killing Bono Soundtrack
"Some Kind of Lovin"
"Cry Baby"
"Where We Want To Be"
"Kicking Off Again"
"Better Way"
"On My Own"
"Love Never Dies"
"Play Dead"
2012 "La Marseillaise" The Words
2015 "Georgia Crawl" Jackie & Ryan Soundtrack
"Last Kind Words"
"Dance All Night"
"I Know You Rider"
"Sitting on Top of the World"
"900 Miles"
"Birds Fly"
"As the Road Goes"
2021 "11:11" Songs For You
"Rise Up"
"Pirate Song"
"Not the End"
"Ordinary Day"

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Work Result Refs
2008 National Movie Awards Best Performance – Male The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian Nominated
2008 Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Breakout Male The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian Nominated
2009 MTV Movie Awards Breakthrough Performance Male The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian Nominated
2011 National Movie Awards Performance of the Year The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Nominated
2017 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Westworld Nominated


  1. ^ Major, Michael. "Ben Barnes Releases Debut EP 'Songs For You'". Retrieved 27 December 2021.
  2. ^ a b c Rosenberg, Olivia (12 November 2021). "Musician, actor Ben Barnes talks debut extended play, musical influences". The Daily Illini. Retrieved 26 December 2021.
  3. ^ a b Ben Barnes: Prince of hearts The Independent newspaper online. Created: 19 June 2009. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
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  6. ^ "Ben Barnes: gerne on Tour". Fan Lexikon. 30 July 2008. Retrieved 30 May 2012. sagte der 26-Jährige: "Ich würde mir noch gern mehr von Neuseeland anschauen. Oder ins Geburtsland meiner Mutter reisen... nach Südafrika..." ("said the 26-year-old: "I would like to see more of New Zealand. Or travel to the birthplace of my mother... South Africa...")
  7. ^ Hay, Carla (13 November 2011). "Ben Barnes opens up about his musician mindset and working with legendary actors". u2360gradi. Retrieved 30 May 2012. "My mum was raised Jewish, my dad is very scientifically minded..." ("Mia madre è stata sollevata ebreo, mio padre è molto mentalità scientifica...")
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External links[edit]