Ben Barnes is the star of Prince Caspian, the latest Chronicles of Narnia story to get the Hollywood treatment. The 26-year-old plays the lead role in the second C.S. Lewis children's book to be made into a film. It's out in UK cinemas on 26 June.
How did you hear about getting the role as Prince Caspian?
I was so anxious to know whether I got the part I asked them to tell me day or night whether it was gonna be me or not. And of course it was late afternoon in Los Angeles which means it was sort of three, four o'clock in the morning here. So I sleepily answered the phone and then woke up very quickly and started running round the house screaming my head off, just making noise because there were no bars to go to and no-one I could wake up.
Were you on your own then when you heard the news?
I did actually tell my mum. I've got to admit. She didn't mind being woken up.
What were other people's reactions?
I don't think they really knew what it meant. I don't think I had even the vaguest clue even though I'd seen the first film and read the books when I was eight years old and loved the stories and done some film work before, even on a big scale. So I sort of knew what I was in for but nothing could really prepare me for this.
You're the lead character. Did they ease you in gently?
Ben Barnes appeared as Dunstan Thorn in Stardust last year
No. My very first day on set the first assistant director actually said, 'This is Ben Barnes. He's playing Caspian. Don't look him directly in the eyes. Don't stand within six feet of him. Thank you.' Still a few days later people were treating me rather warily but it was supposed to be irony because I was obviously the most intimidated, scared person on the set. Luckily for me, Caspian's character is pretty intimidated for most of the film and scared and running for his life so it was kind of easy to harness those emotions.
It's a physical role with lots of horse riding and fighting. Were you straight into doing all that?
I was only cast about a month before we started filming. I was in New Zealand, actually in a place called Paradise on the South Island, and I was doing six hours of horse riding every day and sword fighting training and dialect coaching. It was really this Narnia boot camp which I had to go through as quickly as possible.
Were you good at it? Had you ridden before?
I might have suggested that I had. In one of the auditions they said, 'Have you ridden a horse before?' and I said, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah.' And then I rang my mum and said, 'Have I ridden a horse before?' And she said, 'Yeah. I think so.' And I found a picture of me on a Shetland aged six or eight or something. So I figured that counted. But I had great Spanish horse trainers and a fabulous New Zealand stunt team. Alan Poppleton was the stunt coordinator. His energy was so infectious and there was none of this macho rubbish. He was just trying to make us as good as we could possibly be.
Was it quite physical? Did you harm yourself?
No. Little knocks and scrapes but that's the nature of the type of film we're making.
But half the time aren't you swinging your sword in thin air because there's nothing there?
There have already been premieres for Prince Caspian around the world
No. There's always something. That's one of the most common misconceptions, I think, about the Narnia films. There's very little green screen actually. If you need a river or a mountain or a gorge you go to a river or a mountain or a gorge. And the characters have all been in make-up for three hours. They're wearing powerizer stilts if they're supposed to half-horse. All the soldiers are fully trained stuntmen. I was afraid. I was like, 'Can I hit him there with the sword. It'll hurt.' And he was like, 'No. Just go ahead. Hit me.'
How are you going to compete with all the other summer blockbusters?
I know. It's very surreal. I was in Los Angeles and you can go down Sunset Boulevard and you get the Hancock posters, Indiana Jones with Harrison Ford, Robert Downey Jr and then suddenly I pop up. Even I look at it and think, 'What am I doing there, 15 storeys high, staring down at myself?'. I look up at myself and think, 'Oh, stop pouting.' It's very weird.
Did you take a picture?
Yeah. I stopped in a petrol station and got a disposable camera and it took me about six goes to get my face and the billboard in the same picture.
What about the attention from the girls? How's that been so far?
I've managed to just miss it everywhere. Because I do the press and the day the film's opened I move on to the next country. So they've managed to keep me one step ahead of any sort of people vying for attention. I'm hoping to take advantage of it at some point. It makes me horribly uncomfortable but at the same time it's nice to know it's there.
Have you been getting more film offers? Have they been flying in?
Flying in is probably a slight exaggeration. But definitely there's sort of increased interest in reading things and auditioning for things, which is great. It's the reason that I do it. And I want to tell different types of stories and play different types of characters. That's part of the job that I love.
Ben Barnes was talking to Newsbeat's Frances Cronin