GRUMPY MAGAZINE - Ben Barnes (Solo Edition)

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ABOUT Grumpy Magazine is an international digital and print publication founded and curated by Jasmine Perrier. Selfpublished from France since 2016, we aim at covering the cultural landscape across the world and sharing a genuine vision of life to get you out of your grumpy mood. More than just a magazine, we are interested in aesthetically pleasing a modern take on traditional staples and thus offering a unique book capturing thoughtful stories and stimulating sceneries. This standalone feature is taken from Grumpy Magazine’s IN CONVERSATION series and exclusively available as a solo story featuring one talent and 20+ pages of interview and photos.

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COVER | Ben Barnes wears Sandro

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TEAM & CONTRIBUTORS Jasmine Perrier at Studio J•T•P Publisher | Editor-in-chief | Producer | Writer | Designer Contributors Amanda Seyfried | Sam Spence | Savanna Morales Carlee Wallace | Elayna Bachman | Christine Nelli | Boyd Sloan

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eintroducing Ben Barnes

Ten years after working together on The Big Wedding, Ben Barnes and Amanda Seyfried teach us the importance of being fearless and letting it go.

INTERVIEW BY Amanda Seyfried PHOTOGRAPHY BY Sam Spence VIDEOGRAPHY BY Savanna Morales STYLING BY Carlee Wallace at Art Department MAKEUP BY Elayna Bachman at Art Department using YSL Beauty HAIR BY Christine Nelli at Kalpana PRODUCTION BY Jasmine Perrier at Studio J•T•P STYLIST ASSISTANT Boyd Sloan LOCATION Sofitel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills


LOOK Sandro




Ben Barnes 06


en Barnes can’t quite believe how much he has achieved. Over his 20-year career, he has distinguished himself by taking on the daunting task of

playing complex antagonists and sometimes controversial villains that we love to hate or hate to love. From Westworld to Marvel’s The Punisher and Shadow and Bone, the British actor, who is a real-life sweet and humble person, demonstrates his powerful ability to deliver nuanced and driven performances. When he steps away from darkness and the tortured souls he portrays with commitment on-screen, you can find him proudly and joyfully sharing his own inner thoughts and emotions in music. To explore the journey leading up to this moment, Ben had a reunion with Amanda Seyfried after our photoshoot at Sofitel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills. While reminiscing about their 2013 comedy with an all-star cast, the pair got candid in an unfiltered conversation about creative growth, proud moments, and their ever-changing industry. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.




It took me ten years to watch anything I’d done and go, “Oh, that’s not bad.” I think with every job I do, I’m chasing that idea of doing something which feels honest and I can be proud of.

BEN BARNES: Hi, gorg!


I have to build up to watching it because when I have preconceived expectations about something, I’m worried it won’t live up to it.

AMANDA SEYFRIED: How are you? You’re in Los Angeles? BB: I’m alright. You’re in New York City?

AS: I love that you will watch it because there are so many people that don’t. When you do watch it, are you scared?

AS: I’m in Toronto. Have you been there? I think you would love it.

BB: I watch everything once because I think everything that I’ve become good at in life, it’s because I tried really hard at it. I always thought that me and you were almost opposites. I remember when we were filming together, you could be having a conversation with someone else, playing a game, or telling a joke, and then they’d call ‘‘action,’’ and you’d be crying.

BB: Hang on a minute... I did Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities in Toronto [laughs]. It was at the end of the pandemic, so we weren’t allowed out. What are you doing now? AS: I’m doing the Atom Egoyan movie, just for four weeks. He did Chloe, do you remember that movie?

AS: You were the same! Weren’t you? BB: There is that actress I really like in it. I watched her in The Big Wedding and then she did that movie.

BB: No, I was wrestling with what I had to say, saying the first line of the scene in my head over and over again. You were the kind of actor that I always wanted to be — easy and natural. But I think I thrive when I can really put effort into being a different way from myself.

AS: Julianne Moore wasn’t in The Big Wedding. BB: It was you. AS: [Laughs] So, Shadow and Bone is coming out. Are you proud of the show?

AS: I think it does depend on who you’re playing and what era you’re playing.

BB: I haven’t seen it yet, but they just put it on my Netflix account, so I will probably watch some of the second season tonight.

BB: Totally. But my point is, I still learn from watching the things that I have made, and I


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BB: Fancy people.

watch it in the vain hope that I will be proud of myself. It took me ten years to watch anything I’d done and go, ‘‘Oh, that’s not bad.’’ Eventually, I would let go and relax a bit when things were happening in my real life. And I think with every job I do, I’m chasing that idea of doing something which feels honest and I can be proud of.

AS: So, let’s talk about your sexy music video. You’ve always been a singer. You have an insane voice. BB: Weren’t you doing your audition for Les Misérables while we were shooting The Big Wedding? Because I desperately wanted to be in that with you. I couldn’t because I was going straight into another movie and I wasn’t even allowed to audition. I was so jealous because I remember saying to you, ‘‘I want to be on Marius.’’

AS: It’s also time. Even if I did a bad take, I know it, and then I can change it. BB: Do you feel like all the big changes in your life in recent years have shifted how proud you are of what you’ve done? I’m talking about motherhood and accolades as well, like being recognized by people and in your industry.

AS: You’re right! BB: You had a little tape that you were singing along to. I remember you saying they said ‘‘no,’’ and you were like, ‘‘I think you should hear me sing one more time.’’ That doggedness is an appealing quality.

AS: Big time. No matter what changes in my life occur, acting will always be a founding source of comfort, joy, and satisfaction. I will say though, with motherhood, everything in my life has become secondary in terms of importance. But it’s also made a lot of things richer. When I choose different projects, I have to be much more mindful. I think anybody who had the offer to be in The Big Wedding was like, ‘‘I don’t know how this movie is going to turn out, but look at all these giant actors. It’s going to be really fun.’’ There was Susan Sarandon...

AS: [Laughs] It was very traumatizing. Did you ever have to do that for something or feel like you weren’t auditioning enough? BB: I auditioned for Across the Universe ten times. I flew to New York, which I had never been to, to do a chemistry read and all that with the director. And I didn’t get it. But I did end up working with Evan Rachel Wood on Westworld years later. And then, she was in my music video that you were just about to reference. I might not push to get the thing today because I’m too conscious of being gracious and not upsetting anyone, but I’ll get the thing in 20 years [laughs].

BB: Who doesn’t want to work with Robert De Niro or Robin Williams? He is maybe the greatest actor of all time. We got to sit in a scene opposite him, hold hands, and we were both just admiring him in that scene.

AS: It’s a long game.

AS: I also remember on the dock. And then, did somebody fall?

BB: That’s what I did with the music.

BB: Yes, I had to jump off the boat to save someone. All I was thinking was, ‘‘I want to do a good dive to look really good.’’

AS: What’s the long game with it? BB: I tried to do it when I was 19 and it fell apart very quickly. I got very disillusioned with it. Then, right at the beginning of the pandemic, I was like, ‘‘I don’t want to be an old man who regrets not having released his own songs, not having performed in front of people, and not seeing what I could do with this part of my life I love so much.’’ So, I put together an EP by myself.

AS: Did you? I couldn’t sense that you were getting serious about it. It seemed like you were having a great day. BB: Of course I was having a great day, I was getting married to you. AS: That was so fun. We were in Greenwich [Connecticut]. Who shoots a movie there? Who has dinner with Robert De Niro?

AS: Where did you record it?



BB: In LA. I got stems from musicians around the world and I was really proud to make it. It was all very real and heartfelt. Then, I put it out and some people liked it. I’ve recently been playing shows where people come and see me sing them. It feels like this amazing new facet which enriches my life no end and brings me so much joy. I’m excited to see where I can take it because I’ve always wanted to put out interesting and honest stories, talk about the gray emotional areas of life, and make hopeful things. Now, I’m finally doing it and people are standing, looking at me giving them what I’m giving.

but we can have a voice and input from the beginning. On Shadow and Bone, my showrunner, Eric Heisserer, is amazing because he sits down with me every episode and we look together at all the scenes I’m in to make sure we’re pulling the most from them. That’s such a privilege.

AS: It’s liberating because you are in control of it. I feel like you’re channeling the same thing that I’m channeling from being a mother. All of a sudden, you’re getting to do that thing and it’s so enlightening.

BB: I remember when I got the Prince Caspian job, I was like, ‘‘This is your big break, don’t mess it up. All you have to do is be committed in each scene to what the story is.’’ Now, I realize I didn’t have the experience to think about all the different facets and channel them into something exciting. I wish I had done that a bit earlier.

AS: Collaboration is the key. And it’s also not a given. We’ve been doing it for a long time and we’ve earned our place by having space to share our opinions and people respecting it. I wish I had recognized that and spoken up sooner about how I felt about things.

BB: With acting, I’m doing my best to help someone else channel their story, which I absolutely love. But with music, this is my story. And the best way I know how to explain where I am in the world, is to write some set of verses and rhymes, find a tune, and sing it out of my body. It’s a different creative energy which I hadn’t explored as much for 20 years. I’ve always been someone quite careful, especially publicly. And when I started doing the music and people started asking me questions about me, I was like, ‘‘There’s nothing I don’t want to be asked now,’’ because I wrote these things and I could speak to them in an honest way. It’s all love and I’m just sharing my music. Sharing is everything.

AS: But you’re doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing and it seems like you’re incredibly fulfilled. As somebody who loves to sing, until Scarlett Johansson came out with that Tom Waits album of covers, I was always thinking, ‘‘I could never put an album out because it will affect my career.’’ When you said you were very careful, is that something that came into play?

BB: She told me all about it.

BB: Yes, because I was looking at pop stars who tried to be in movies and thought, ‘‘Keep doing what people like you doing because it feels awkward.’’ I was worried that people would think that I was trying to get attention. So, it was a fear until I decided it was complete bullshit. Everyone will have an opinion. There will be people out there who will tattoo my lyrics on their arms, and there will be people who think, ‘‘Please stop.’’ [Laughs] And that’s fine too! They don’t have to come to the show. Then, the people who do, I’m going to put everything into making sure that they leave an hour and a half later being like, ‘‘I had a great night.’’

AS: I will tell you, she’s the best. I was standing in that room and I was like, ‘‘This is it. This is exactly what I’ve been missing.’’

AS: It’s nice that you get to do that in person. And it’s very brave, but it also feels like you should have been doing this years ago.

BB: When you start, you’re saying ‘‘yes’’ to things and doing what people ask of you,

BB: I know and I do have regrets about that, but I’m doing it now.

AS: This is all on your terms and that’s why you feel so open. It’s coming from your heart. BB: Whereas you release a movie, you don’t share it. AS: Speaking of Evan Rachel Wood, we did a workshop together.


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AS: It’s not your fault and that’s what teaches us to just go for it. It’s never too late. But it’s so funny, when you do it, you’re like, ‘‘Wow, this is so easy.’’ For me, it was like, ‘‘Why haven’t I done this earlier with Evan and the group?’’

There are so many good stories being told. What about you? You didn’t get Across the Universe. It’s fine. What about a musical? BB: Well, I played a street busker in Jackie and Ryan with Katherine Heigl. Then, I played a terrible rock star in Killing Bono. And I sang on the soundtrack of Easy Virtue, the movie I did with Jessica Biel. So, I’ve been scratching the itch along the way but I’ve never done a musical.

BB: Is creating a musical like that on your big bucket list? AS: I was too scared to even consider it, Ben. BB: You will regret not doing the things that scare you. That is a truth that I discovered latterly. But I remember, particularly on the Narnia sets, a lot of my friends or family would come and say, ‘‘Where have you learned to be this way? How are you at ease with this?’’ And I genuinely wasn’t for a few days. But then, I realized how few people in life ever get to do this, so I was like, ‘‘If I’m here, I’m going to make the most of this and I’m not going to be scared.’’ I think that’s the same thing with me being on stage. I did a show in LA a few weeks ago and I was so anxious, but it went pretty well. Then, I did the same show in New York a couple of days later and I was so much more relaxed. I know it will keep developing in that way.

AS: Would you do Mamma Mia! 3?

AS: You’re going to know what you need.

AS: If someone was like, ‘‘You have a choice to make. You’re going to either go on the road, write albums, and have an incredibly successful career as a musician, but you have to stop acting.’’ What would you do?

BB: I think I auditioned for one of them and didn’t get it. I would only do it if you did it. AS: I would do it for sure. Wouldn’t it be fun? BB: I feel like we missed the whole romance in our movie and skipped right to the bit where they are about to get married. AS: Yes, but we were so giggly. BB: We should do something deadly serious next. You should play some villain with a gun to people’s heads. I’ve been doing a lot of that the last few years.

BB: Exactly. Do you ever feel that way about your acting job choices? I feel like people look at you and think you could do any job you want. But I’ve only ever had a maximum of two or three jobs on the table at one point, and I’m choosing from those [laughs].

BB: I was very happy for 20 years doing this job and keeping music private. I could go back to that very happily if I had to. But if I’m not singing at all, it’s the first marker when I feel low in life. So, I would pick music.

AS: You know, it is interesting. It’s only right now that I have more opportunities than I ever had. I’m not saying it’s a bajillion.

AS: I get that. If you were on your deathbed and you could think of a big moment where you were proud, what would it be?

BB: It’s so wonderful. Opportunity is everything. AS: It’s everything. In this little moment, I feel like I can choose to develop something and people will support me. But everything is fleeting. What goes up must come down, what goes down must come up.

BB: The most surprising thing about my whole life is that I’ve been fortuitous enough to have these loyal supporters who probably found me doing Narnia, and have come with me for 20 years through things like The Punisher, these indie movies, and then through releasing my own music. So, releasing the music on my 40th birthday and having that group of people enjoying what I’m doing on an artistic level, that

BB: Do you have specific themes or stories that you would like to tell? AS: No, I can’t think of any specific thing.


made me feel bold enough to pursue the thing I want to pursue, even though it felt late or uncomfortable. Even if I’m not proud of all of the music or all of the movies, I’m proud when I look at the journey.

BB: I don’t think I’ve ever done anything where I didn’t give it everything I’d got. And sometimes I overcook it. I’ve always admired how natural you are. AS: I’m afraid of too much effort because I have the fear of disappointing myself.

AS: Also, there’s more of a personal connection your fans can get now. It must feel like there’s a greater purpose with your music that maybe we can’t completely tackle as an actor.

BB: That’s incredibly honest and insightful. AS: I think it all depends on the era. Playing Marion Davies [in David Fincher’s Mank] was so hard. I worked my ass off and had a great moment with that, but playing someone out of my era is my Achilles heel.

BB: But I’m also proud of being involved in things that impact people in countries I’ve never even been to. If you asked the slightly awkward, lonely, 14-15, 16-17-year-old me, I didn’t think I would have any chance of doing something that I really loved. Even when I did start having those dreams at 1819, I thought it would be on a different scale. To have been able to be involved in some of these things which people hold dear because of the books they’re based on, that makes me proud.

BB: I only play people out of the era. That’s all I’ve ever done [laughs]. No one wants me in jeans and a t-shirt. AS: Isn’t that funny? But we were in jeans and t-shirts [in The Big Wedding]. BB: We were in funny old Greenwich suits.

AS: You bring it to life and it’s what’s stamped in their memories now. And it’s such a gift for us. What about new fans? Is there fanfiction now for Shadow and Bone?

AS: What are you going to do next? BB: I don’t know. I was concentrating on [my music shows] for a minute. Then, I have season two of Shadow and Bone and I want to have some time to talk to people about it. So often, I’m off doing something else by the time it comes out and I miss the opportunity to share it. Because you gave so much to it, you owe it to yourself to do that.

BB: I sidestepped a lot of things on the Internet a little while ago. So, I don’t see a lot of it but I see enough to feel the love. AS: It’s nuts. When we were back in 2013, you were about to go off and do something after The Big Wedding.

AS: It’s so important. I really hope you like the show.

BB: I was about to go do Seventh Son with Julianne Moore, Jeff Bridges, and Alicia Vikander. There was a joke that all you have to do to win an Oscar is to work with me on something less good right before.

BB: There will be bits I’m proud of and bits I wish I’d done differently. It’s been ratcheted up from the first season, so I think it will be good. And I’m doing something very specific in it, so I’m excited to see if it translated.

AS: Oh no! Or sometimes you win an Oscar, and the movie that comes out after and was already in the can is rubbish. Another thing I learned is to never have any expectations of what the actual project is going to mean. You chose it for a reason, so have as much fun in the moment as you can.

AS: I think it will. That’s the moment of truth. Anyway, I love you very much and have fun watching the show. BB: It was nice to see your face and hear your voice. Thanks for doing this. I love you.

shadow and bone season 2 premieres globally on march 16, 2023, only on netflix







The most surprising thing about my whole life is that I’ve been fortuitous enough to have these loyal supporters who probably found me doing Narnia, and have come with me for 20 years through things like The Punisher, these indie movies, and then through releasing my own music.



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