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Ben Barnes Back On Stage In ‘Birdsong’

BBC News has posted a new interview with Ben talking about Birdsong. The article includes a new rehearsal photo, which has been added to the gallery.

“It’s one of about three books ever that’s made me physically weep.”

Ben Barnes adopts a cross-legged position on the bed in the corner of his dressing room in the depths of London’s Comedy Theatre.

It is the final few days of rehearsals for Birdsong – a play based on Sebastian Faulks’s best-selling novel about one man’s journey through the horror of World War I.

On a clothes rail next to Barnes’s bed hangs the freshly-laundered uniform of a British army officer. In the play, he takes the lead role of Stephen Wraysford, a young Englishman whose story begins in pre-war France in 1910.

“I read the book about five years ago. It was around the time that I was getting serious about being an actor,” says Barnes.

“When you read something like that and the character is in your age range, English with dark hair and dark eyes, you obviously put yourself in that character’s shoes.”

He recalls the first time he met author Sebastian Faulks.

“He looked at me a bit confused, and said it’s nice to finally meet. I asked him what he meant and he said ‘You look exactly how I imagined Stephen when I wrote it 15 years ago’. He was obviously a bit weirded out by it.”

The stage version has been penned by Rachel Wagstaff, with Trevor Nunn directing. Alongside Barnes, the cast includes Nicholas Farrell (Chariots of Fire), Iain Mitchell (La Cage Aux Folles), Genevieve O’Reilly (Spooks) Lee Ross (EastEnders) and Zoe Waites (The Other Boleyn Girl).

By way of preparation, Barnes and other cast members visited the Imperial War Museum to research the period. He’s also been sent letters from people whose relatives who were involved in the war.

“It’s amazing how many people have tapped into this book as something that feels very personal to them, even though it’s fictional.”

Birdsong isn’t the only West End play to tackle life and death in the trenches. It follows the stage success of War Horse – based on the book by Michael Morpurgo – which is currently being filmed by Steven Spielberg.

Birdsong has yet to make it to the big screen. Barnes explains: “I’d auditioned for Birdsong when they tried to make a film of it a couple of times, and it was close at least once. Unfortunately they’ve never quite been able to get all the ingredients together.”

In the meantime, he’s established a Hollywood career in fantasy films like Stardust, Prince Caspian and Dorian Gray.

So why return to the West End now?

“It feels like the right decision,” says Barnes. “I took a trip to Los Angeles just before I got this job and I was looking for an American movie. Then this came along and something clicked.”

Even as a teenager, the young Ben Barnes was attracted by the bright lights of theatreland. Aged 16, he played drums in the stage musical Bugsy Malone.

“It was at the Queen’s Theatre just five mins from here,” he laughs. “It was one of the best periods of my life as I got to leave school early on a Wednesday. I had this secret life as a jazz drummer in the West End!”

Caspian returns

Barnes is back on the big screen later this year – in 3D – when he reprises his role as Caspian in new Narnia adventure The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. It has been chosen for this year’s Royal film gala in November.

“All I know is I have to do Birdsong that evening, so I’ll have to find a way of doing the red carpet and then running here,” says Barnes.

He also stars in Killing Bono – a forthcoming film based on the memoirs of music writer Neil McCormick, who went to school with a boy called Paul Hewson – better known as U2’s Bono.

“It’s a perfect project for me,” enthuses Barnes. “I play a completely ridiculous wannabe 80s Irish rockstar who went to school with Bono and told U2 that he was going to be the biggest star in the world.”

He adds: “It was the first script I’d ever read where I laughed on every page.”

In other words, the polar opposite of Birdsong.

Or as Barnes puts it: “There were tears in the rehearsal room and I think there are going to be tears in the theatre every night. It’s just of those stories that starts to get a hold of you.”

Birdsong previews at the Comedy Theatre from 18-27 September and runs 28 September – 15 January 2011.

Source: BBC News

Comments

KeyKey2DaBenz (aka bleep!) said:

*;o…tear•

September 21st, 2010

toebildonk said:

Ben, you will never failed in making me proud of you as your fan…

September 21st, 2010

Nightshade said:

That is a lovely interview.

@toebildonk … I second that, absolutely.

Ben, you are amazing xxx

September 21st, 2010

Helaine said:

@toebildonk – My thoughts exactly… :)

I was just wondering about the schedule conflicts that will arise by the time of Dawn Treader premiere… He won’t be able to attend to most of Narnia-related events, not to mention the premieres around the world… :(

September 21st, 2010

DW said:

@Helaine…I’m actually glad of that for a change! I would be terribly disappointed if I got to London in December to see him, and he was off at a premiere!

Ben, please come back here to Los Angeles someday! Give it another try! I’m sure you’ll get a job here!

Yes, he is an amazing person! Some girl will be very lucky to have him someday! I read the fan encounter on another site. He seems very polite and willing to meet his fans, unlike some actors! He certainly deserves our admiration, doesn’t he?

September 21st, 2010

KeyKey2DaBenz (aka bleep!) said:

-yes, I will be very lucky ;)

September 21st, 2010

Nicole L. said:

@toebildonk — im with you on that!! Ben is so awesome

@DW — i feel like he deserves more than just our admiration :) but i’m sure it’s the most we can give him as his fans

@bleep! — you mean *I* will be very lucky?! LOL ;)

reading about the fan encounters makes me want to meet him even more, just like all the great things i’ve heard about Birdsong makes me want to go see the play (and the book was fantastic!)…….oh how i wish i lived in/could go visit London :( :(

September 21st, 2010

Helaine said:

@DW – Oh, sorry if I didn’t make myself clear. I didn’t mean he should go to the premieres instead of being in the play. I only pointed out that he won’t be so assiduous to the Narnia-related events as he was back in 2008, when Prince Caspian was released. I’m sure he only would be off at a premiere somewhere out of London, if the Birdsong schedule permitted – if he had a free week in december, for example… ;)

@bleep! and Nicole L. – Oh, here we go again girls… Look, the lucky girl is going to be *ME*, ok? Why don’t you just accept that?………. LOL

@Nicole L. – Yeah, I know what you mean. The more I read the fan reports, the more I want to meet him and see him on stage. And the more I think about it, the more I grow sad because I know it’s impossible. I wish I could go to London too… I feel like I was born in the wrong place – and this feeling is not recent… :(

September 21st, 2010

DW said:

@Helaine, no problem! I just really had that worry, but we’re going to two shows now, four and five days before Christmas, so we figured we should be okay. And now Ben kinda confirmed in this article that Birdsong is his first commitment right now, so I feel better.
And you weren’t born in the wrong place! Ben really isn’t the most important thing in life, even though it feels like it right now, LOL. You’re from Brazil, right? I’ve never been, but I know it must be incredibly beautiful there!

And girls, did you forget? It’s my daughter who’s the lucky one! Ben’s destined to be my son-in-law!

September 21st, 2010

Ela said:

…yes, and I know exactly who’s going to shed tears in the theatre.

*sighs*

I already cried a river while reading the book. So I’ll better pack some tissues and not put on eye makeup in the first place, hooray… ;-)

September 21st, 2010

Helaine said:

@DW – No, I don’t think Ben is the most important thing in life, I guess I’m maturer than that. And as I said before, this feeling of being born in the wrong place isn’t recent, it’s something I feel since a long time ago, it’s been part of me. But Ben is very recent in my life, so he’s not the (main) reason of it. And it’s not about Brazil either, I live in a very beautiful country indeed. It’s just… complicated. I know I’m confusing, don’t try to understand me… LOL

September 21st, 2010

DW said:

I hope I didn’t hurt your feelings. No, you’re not confusing at all! I know this isn’t exactly the right forum for this, but everyone gets confused…and everyone hates where they live sometimes!

Ben is important, because he makes us happy. I just meant seeing him in person isn’t the end all!

If you ever need to talk, I’m a good listener!!! Cheer up!! And you win, Helaine, you’re the lucky one! Sorry bleep and Nicole, LOL!

September 21st, 2010

Helaine said:

Don’t worry, you didn’t. ^^ I’m just not in a good mood today… But thanks for the support. :)

But you’re right, this isn’t the right forum for this kind of “deep issues”, so we better change the subject before Steph gets mad on us for subverting the topic of the post… =P

Well, I don’t think the fight for Ben’s heart will end here, you know… bleep! and Nicole L. won’t give up so easily… =P (Actually, I hope they won’t, because I always laugh out loud with our “friendly competition”… LOL)

September 21st, 2010

Maria said:

@DW, I don’t know I’m your daughter ;P

I’m going to see him sooooooon! I can’t wait! He’s wonderful :_)

September 21st, 2010

Nicole L. said:

@Helaine — you know how it is…we all think we’re the lucky ones (even though i KNOW i’m the lucky one!! LOL jk) …and i like our ~friendly competition~ too, it just wouldn’t be as exciting without it, am i right?! :) i plan on charming the pants off of him (hehehe) and winning his heart with my awesome sense of humor and silly jokes! lol

–And you win, Helaine, you’re the lucky one! Sorry bleep and Nicole, LOL!–
ouch, DW!! so not cool! :p

–And now Ben kinda confirmed in this article that Birdsong is his first commitment right now, so I feel better.–
i don’t blame him, i’m sure he doesn’t want a repeat of the History Boys controversy that kept him out of the West End for 4 years! but i do hope he makes it to at least a few of the Narnia events!

September 21st, 2010

Helaine said:

@Maria – Oh no, another rival?! Noooooooo!!!…. lol
Jokes apart, are you going to see Birdsong? You’re so lucky! :)

@Nicole L. – “…and i like our ~friendly competition~ too, it just wouldn’t be as exciting without it, am i right?! :)”
Yeah, you’re definitely right! :) Well, I plan on enchanting him with all my loveliness and sweetness, but pretending I’m not (so) in love with him yet, so he will think he’s going to be the hunter, not me… Hopefully, he will try to melt my heart with his ‘wonderful personality and eloquent conversation’ (quoting)… ;) Oh, my plan sounds quite complicated, doesn’t it?… õ.ô

September 22nd, 2010

Nicole L. said:

@Helaine — LOL, good plan!! it’s not complicated at all :) it’s more thought out than mine was hahaha! :D

September 22nd, 2010

Galene said:

Paramount have announced that Killing Bono is set for a UK Premiere in Spring 2011
http://killingbonoblog.com/?p=174

September 22nd, 2010

Steelsheen said:

From the article:
“He looked at me a bit confused, and said it’s nice to finally meet. I asked him what he meant and he said ‘You look exactly how I imagined Stephen when I wrote it 15 years ago’. He was obviously a bit weirded out by it.”

maybe the author should’ve met Ben’s dad *while* he was writing it 15 years ago, that would’ve been really weird. imagine JK Rowling meeting a true-to-life Harry Potter even before she was able to publish.

aaand there goes the beard. :( oh well… guess it was needed for the role….

they’re gonna have to do some real creative juggling with his sched, which isnt impossible, but he wouldnt be the only poster boy for Narnia unlike what happened with PC, besides Georgie Henley, Will Poulter and Skandar Keynes (who is now legally an adult) are older so they can be utilized to hit the chat show circuit a bit more and not have everything rest of Ben’s shoulders again.

and i’m *really* pumped for Killing Bono. that has greatness written all over it. if he was laughing every page of the script imagine what would’e happened if he read the book. and as big a Narnia fan as i am, i’m finding myself more eager for KB. now if it could only get a wider distribution ;)

here’s a clue: SUPPORT KILLING BONO IN THE UK!!! it has to do Full Monty or Trainspotting numbers to get a wide global release.

September 23rd, 2010

DW said:

” SUPPORT KILLING BONO IN THE UK!!! it has to do Full Monty or Trainspotting numbers to get a wide global release.”

here, here Steelsheen! Listen to the woman, UK residents because I so want KB to be released here in the US!!! I am also more excited for KB than Narnia. Locked In as well. I don’t have a great feeling about Narnia, too cutesy, too kiddish and not enough of our man! Can we start some sort of letter writing campaign to Paramount or something, US fans?!!!

September 23rd, 2010

KeyKey2DaBenz (aka bleep!) said:

Oh hey Helaine & Nicole L.! I wasn’t aware of any competition???…};) wuddarr u guyz toking about??? Heeheeheeheehee…

@Nicole L.-yes you’re right! I DID mean ‘*I* will be very lucky’…I just forgot to add those 2 lil’ stars on the ‘I’…};)
@Helaine- As I recall, didn’t you supposedly claim the ~next life~ ? ;o ?
@DW- yeah man, that was so not cool… ;(
@Helaine- if there is someone you care about (other than My Ben- of course;) that lives in a galaxy far far away, if it is in your power to, then go to them! Go to the place where your heart is!
@Steelsheen & DW – oh yes, please people! We need Ben filmS in the US! Maybe we should make some comments on the Killing Bono Blog “begging them” to……..nah, IDK?

C~Ya };)

September 24th, 2010

DW said:

Sorry bleep! I was just trying to cheer Helaine up! I wish I really had that kinda control over who’s gonna get Ben! LOL Cuz then it would be me who’d win!!!

Maybe US fans should really try commenting on the blog. If there’s enough people begging, they might listen I suppose!

September 24th, 2010

AnnabellaBarnes said:

Cresta!!! yo queria ver la obra!! es lo malo de vivir en otro continente!!

September 24th, 2010

tania said:

i love is amazing
BEN come back a spain!

September 24th, 2010

Geo said:

I’m feeling like a girl that is fan of the best person this world ever had! Oh my God, he’s incredible! Does he really exist? He’s awesome! And, I think will be difficult to make Birdsong and be at the premieres and at the promotion of Narnia :33 But Ben will resolve it, of course Q

September 24th, 2010

Nicole L. said:

i’m with everyone else who wants KB released in the US….let’s make it happen!!!

September 24th, 2010

Helaine said:

@bleep! – Yeah, I claimed the next life, but nothing prevents me from trying this one too… =P

“if there is someone you care about (other than My Ben- of course;) that lives in a galaxy far far away, if it is in your power to, then go to them! Go to the place where your heart is!”

Aw, how beautiful! But I guess I’m already where my heart is, you know… or at least where my heart needs to be by now. Which doesn’t mean I will stop dreaming of My Sweet Ben… hehehe ;)

September 24th, 2010

KeyKey2DaBenz (aka Bleep!) said:

To: Helaine,
Oh, I see…and yes, I was trying to make it sound beautiful- hihihihihi ;).

Oh, and I see that you will continue to dream about My Ben! ;o ! ;D

September 25th, 2010

ofe said:

Benis gorgeous and excelllent actor but he needs to be near to his fans like me.

September 30th, 2010