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Prince Caspian Speaks!

Ben Barnes talks to Scholastic News Online about The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

By Gerri Miller | May 16 , 2008
Ben Barnes stars as Prince Caspian in <i>The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian</i>. (Photo: ©Murray Close/Disney Enterprises, Inc. and Walden Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved)
Ben Barnes stars as Prince Caspian in The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. (Photo: ©Murray Close/Disney Enterprises, Inc. and Walden Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved)

The Chronicles continue . . .

The wardrobe is gone. The White Witch is dead. Aslan has been missing for more than a thousand years. How can you not want to see what happens in the sequel to The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe?

On Friday May 16, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian hits your local theaters. Once again, you'll visit the wondrous land of Narnia with the Pevensie children: Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. But Narnia is not the way they left it. There's a new enemy, King Miraz, who threatens the existence of Narnia's magical creatures. There's also a new hero, Prince Caspian, who's determined to save his beloved Narnia—and Caspian enlists the help of the Pevensie children. It's an adventure not to miss!

In this exclusive Q&A Scholastic News Online did with Prince Caspian himself, British actor Ben Barnes lets you in on the secrets of the second big-screen adventure in Narnia!

Scholastic News: How did you get the part of Prince Caspian?
Ben Barnes: Somebody from the casting director's office in London came to see me in a play [called] The History Boys. He spotted me there and asked me to come in for an audition and then a screen test. It was very short, much shorter than the usual process. They were in a rush. (He laughs.)

SN: Had they cast everyone but you?
Ben: They had. I think they just said, "The next person that comes in, he's Caspian!" When I found out I got the part, I just ran around my house screaming. I'm still completely overexcited about it. I can't really believe it.

SN: Were you a fan of the Narnia books?
Ben: Yes. I read the books when I was like 8 years old. When I got cast as Prince Caspian, I went to find my old copy of the book. I had written in the front, "This book belongs to Benjamin Barnes."

SN: What was the experience like?
Ben: There were a couple of times on set where I was just overwhelmed by the scale of it, like when I first walked onto the castle set. It took my breath away. And then when we were filming in Slovenia, it was the most beautiful vista of river and mountains I had ever seen. I had to take a deep breath to continue walking.

SN: There's a lot of action in the movie. What kind of training did you have to do to prepare?
Ben: When I first got to New Zealand, where we shot the movie, I had to do a couple of weeks of horse training. I was on a horse for five or six hours a day, which is quite painful if you haven't done it before. Then I had to do a lot of swordfight training so I could look cool in the final battle sequences.

SN: Did you do your own stunts?
Ben: Most of them. I had a riding double, who does the really wide shots where you see me riding in a field, but 80 percent of it is me.

SN: Are you naturally athletic?
Ben: Not really. I did a lot of different sports at school but not since school. I just vaguely try to keep fit. I go to the gym; I do a bit of boxing with friends of mine.

Ben Barnes, as Prince Caspian, riding a horse, in the new Narnia adventure, Prince Caspian
Ben Barnes stars as Prince Caspian in The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. (Photo: ©Murray Close/Disney Enterprises, Inc. and Walden Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved)

 

SN: What was the most challenging aspect for you?
Ben: Some of the stunt stuff was pretty hard. At one point, I threw myself off the edge of a cliff. They built up mattresses really, really high but physically, that was one of the hardest things. In terms of the character portrayal, some of the scenes where I have to speak to Reepicheep the mouse and [I'm actually] speaking to a wire with an orange dot on the top. That takes some getting used to. But there wasn't very much of that at all.

SN: What about Caspian do you like and relate to most?
Ben: Rather pathetically, it's not the fighting, poster Caspian that I relate to. That was the stuff I had to learn. The rest of it was he wasn't ready and kind of vulnerable. It was the tentative parts of him that I found much more easy to relate to.

SN: Was it hard to walk around in the heavy armor?
Ben: It was. We were filming in the middle of summer in a field. But there was no complaining because if you look around on a Narnia set, there is always someone more uncomfortable than you. There are minotaurs in fur suits with heavy heads—take them off and you've got steam coming out! I had hair extensions, but there were people who had to have like three hours of makeup every day. I got off lightly.

SN: Did you shoot anywhere else besides New Zealand and Slovenia?
Ben: Yes, Prague, for the studio stuff. We went to Slovenia just for the river sequence at the end.

SN: What did you do for fun when you weren't shooting? Did you have time for anything fun?
Ben: Not a huge amount of time. I got to explore New Zealand a little bit, which was just stunning. The very last day, I managed to get into a helicopter, and we flew down to where they filmed the river cross sequence in Lord of the Rings, which was very cool.

SN: How did you get interested in acting?
Ben: I think it came through music. I was always singing as a kid, and the next logical step was to stage musicals. I did that with a company in the U.K. I was 15, 16. I didn't really know I definitely wanted to be an actor until university, where I majored in English literature and drama.

SN: Do you live in London, or do you plan to move here, to the United States?
Ben: Not at the moment, but I'm quite happy to spend time here in the summer.

SN: What do you like to do for fun?
Ben: I go to the movies, I read books, I'm a huge music fan. I play piano and drums.

SN: Any favorite bands?
Ben: Far too many to mention. I like the Beatles, the Stones, Queen. Newer bands: I like the Arctic Monkeys. I'll listen to anything. Hip-hop.

SN: Will you be in the third Narnia movie?
Ben: Yes. It's called The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. We're going to start shooting in October.

SN: What happens to Caspian in that one?
Ben: He goes on a voyage to find the seven lords who were comrades of his father. He goes on a bit of a journey of self-discovery. It's more of an adventure film.

SN: Are you prepared for all the attention that will come your way now?
Ben: No.

SN: How will you stay grounded in the midst of it?
Ben: Phone calls to my friends and my mother and my brother and my dad. They're coming here for the premiere in New York. They can be the ones to give me a slap and tell me, "What are you thinking?"

SN: What do you love about reading?
Ben: I think the escapism of it is really important. It can transport you, and it's relaxing, and it nourishes your imagination.

 
Check out a slide show of the action and adventure in The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian!

About the Author

Gerri Miller is a contributing writer for Scholastic News Online.

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