His eyes are so black that you can get lost in them, like in a well on a starless night. Too mushy? Perhaps, but it is one of the comments that follow like a wake the arrival of Ben Barnes, 40 years old in August, a true Londoner who has taken the limelight in a series of costume roles, from The Chronicles of Narnia to Dorian Gray. And now he adds to his rich booklet one of the most beloved fantasy characters in literature, General Kirigan, born from the pen of Leigh Bardugo (the saga is published by Mondadori).
From 23 April it lands on Netflix with the series Darkness and bones, embodying a role full of ambiguity and mystery. He succeeds very well because even live – indeed on Zoom – he slips with disarming ease, limits himself to dry answers and always leaves the interlocutor unsatisfied and curious to know more. It also happened in the latest serial project, Gold Digger (premiered at the Monte-Carlo TV Festival), where he seduces sixty-year-old Julia Ormond without letting anyone know too much about herself.
Just have an ice cream with a colleague (it happened a few weeks ago in Los Angeles with Julianne Hough) to unleash the gossip: reserved, indeed very reserved, he keeps away from the spotlight, allergic to worldliness and refractory to any indiscretion.
In the series Tenebre e Ossa, set in a dystopian future in the throes of atavistic conflicts, the various factions of the world try to cross a sort of impassable, nebulous and lethal barrier, the Shadow Fault, which in fact divides the kingdom. Barnes leads one of the armies, that of the Grisha, magical creatures to which is added, surprisingly, Alina (Jessie Mei Li), a girl of humble origins who “enlists” only to be close to her childhood friend Mal (Archie Renaux), but she does not yet know what adventure awaits her. Kirigan, a charismatic and dangerous leader, may be hiding more secrets than meets the eye …
What relationship does it have with the Grishaverse and the novels from which the series is based?
“I read all the books in the saga and immediately fell in love with them.”
Which theme, in particular, struck you?
“Prejudices are dealt with right from the first scene shot, in the camp. It is current to see how power manipulates and divides because it tends to segregate people into categories, often based on appearances. Sending this message on TV after reading in books seemed important to me. “
In the books the story is told by the protagonist: how important is it that the heroine is a woman?
“Alina is the voice of the novels and it is right that she is: the public is accompanied on her own journey to discover humanity from her perspective and with her voice”.
Have you wondered who your general is?
“No, I’ll let him show it: sometimes it looks good, sometimes it looks manipulative, but that’s part of its charm. From his point of view he is a man devoted to a cause, willing to do anything to defend his lineage. In fact, the country is on his shoulders and he does his best. In this war, when one faction has the upper hand, the other is inevitably ostracized and therefore the forces in the field despise each other ».
If he was dealing with someone who has never heard of the saga, which “villain” would he approach him to make it clear what kind of character the General is?
“I am reminded of the eternal struggle between Lord Voldemort and Harry Potter, like that of the Star Wars saga, in short, one of those stories that elevate the character to an entity, but I wanted to add a dose of humanity, to bring it closer to us. It is true, he commands an army in a dark and medieval atmosphere, where the rule of revenge is in force, but for me it is important to understand how it interacts with the other elements of the story and goes beyond the very image of Evil that is read. in the book and which lives in Alina’s head “
In Game of Thrones one of the cult phrases is “Winter is coming”, in this saga the honor goes to one of his lines …
“In whatever language it is then translated, the impact of the original” Make me your villain “(” You can decide that I am the villain “, ed.) Is still incomparable because it perfectly expresses the ambiguous morality of the general, which in itself it brings light and shadows ».
Alina represents light, hope, purity …
“That’s why she and the general are like yin and yang, as we understand very well from the flashbacks that tell us where these characters come from.”
She continues to collect fantasy roles, it can’t be a coincidence …
“The ability of this genre to generate a sense of wonder and to open the doors of the imagination is practically infinite and I really like the allegory of fantasy, this suspension of disbelief that allows you to reflect yourself in the characters.”
“Because fantasy always represents something and symbolizes something else. It is seen in the gray areas where the protagonists find themselves when they have difficulty making decisions, when they struggle to change the external perception of themselves and when they do not spare themselves to reach a goal. There is a magical, almost mystical element to all of this, especially when you enter the dark side. ‘
Is your dreamy and creative soul the fruit of a family of artists?
“Maybe! (Laughs, ed.) My parents are psychiatrists and as a child I always wanted one of those families that seemed so exotic to me, with a father or mother of Italian or Spanish origins, endowed with an emotional intelligence that fascinated me. However, I like the idea that she is one of those people you turn to when you have a weight on your heart, one of those you look for to confide in you ».