Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Interview with William Mosely and Ben Barnes, stars of the Narnia Series film "Prince Caspian"

What made me, a busy working mother take a round trip cross country trip to meet two stars of a Disney film?  I have been a schoolteacher for the past 20 years, and a cultural watchdog all my life. I have become a film critic, in an effort to stem the tide of unhealthy darkness in entertainment, particularly that aimed at children. Darkness prevails in children's entertainment, both in the genres of fantasy involving witches and vampires, to the moral confusion of who is the good guy. It is a matter of utmost importance who the good guy is. Children are seeking heroes, and Hollywood holds up some fairly dubious characters for the adulation of youth.
CS Lewis, was an Oxford don, whose Narnia Series won worldwide acclaim and continuous readership from the time of it's publication in the 50's to today. His Christian faith was no secret to British society, he was a favorite radio broadcaster reading his books on the air. He left an indelible mark on British society, but nowhere was his influence stronger or more lasting than on children's literature. Lewis's heroes are children, called beyond their humdrum existences to feats of outstanding bravery, inspired by a noble lion named Aslan. No ambiguous hero, Aslan lays down his life for Edmund, a boy whose fondness for glory and Turkish Delight endangers his life. Aslan is a leader worth fighting for, worth the adulation he engenders in his subjects. He is an unambiguous Christ-figure, full of majestic virtue.
 How would Aslan be portrayed in the next installment of the Chronicles of Narnia, "Prince Caspian"? Would his role be downplayed or eliminated? Some critics say 'yes' but this critic sees the resurgence of Aslan's leadership in the new film. The message of faith informing one's life, and learning from the lessons of the past touched me powerfully and I was anxious to see if William Moseley(Peter Pevensie) and Ben Barnes(Prince Caspian) agreed with my assessment of the film. Would two actors raised in post-Christian Britain be as moved as I by the Christian themes in the film?

The journey to meet the heroes of Narnia began in the grey November twilight in my home in rural New England.  I followed the rolling country roads to the interstate, where a parade of taillights brought me to New York. I reached the airport in the pre-dawn darkness, taking the subway to the terminal for my cross country flight. "Weren't the Pevensies summoned into Narnia from a subway station?" I mused as I encountered exceptional people who, when I told them of my mission, to reach Narnia, went out of their way to insure my success. I had a ticket agent, inspired by my quest; send me by personal escort through the endless line of security, into my aircraft. The yearning to experience Narnia through me seemed to soften the hardest New York hearts.  The aircraft surmounted the cloud cover bursting into brilliant sunrise, and I spent the morning watching the entire majestic continent pass my window.
Dry Los Angeles sunshine warmed me, as a sought a cab driver to take me across LA to my hotel in the heart of Hollywood. He too, a hard working father of five, was inspired by my story to bring the magic of Narnia alive to my readers, and wished me well.
I might sound naïve, because I am new to the Hollywood junket, my desire to uncover the secrets of the magical film strong enough to inspire a cross-country excursion all the while risking discovery as a newcomer to the journalistic junket. I also felt a burden to thank those who made Narnia possible on the part of millions of Christians who grew up with those wonderful books and were rapturous at the opportunity to see their fantasy world materialize on the big screen.
Sitting in the hotel suite, awaiting my turn at the interviews, I watched a slender young man with flowing brown hair and two days growth of beard playing with the Blu-Ray screen version of the film's DVD. "This is Ben Barnes" I thought, "who played Prince Caspian". I began to watch him for hints of his character in the film.
Soon the journalists arrived who had spent the morning in the special effects studio getting made into creatures from the film; centaurs, fauns, hags, and minotaur. The sense of unreality again came over me, and I anxiously awaited my turn to interview William Moseley who played Peter Pevensie in both "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" and "Prince Caspian".
William who stands at 6 foot in a sharp charcoal blazer over a dove grey t shirt, which set off his tousled blond hair, is a handsome yet unassuming figure. He smiled at the international corps of journalists shyly as the questioning began.
Transcript of interview of William Moseley:
No Peter in Dawn Treader are you happy"
"I am happy I think especially with a franchise film you certainly have to be careful, and not careful because you're gonna be type-cast, but careful because you don't want to be repeating yourself,  for the character you want to try and get as much out of it as possible, and I'm really  lucky I'd four and a half hours/ five hours to do that, to do Peter I think its' sever and a half hours, I wouldn't think I could bring out a side of me which people hadn't seen before, I wouldn't feel like I could bring a part  that was new and inspiring, or something like that, I feel really lucky actually, I've had these two films, achieved an incredible amount of  success and love around the world in truthful, good films, now I can do something else, whatever that might be.
What are you looking for in your next film?

 What film am I looking for next? O Theatre? I'd love to do theatre, I'm actually in a Shakespeare class in London right now, which I'm absolutely loving, and I'm also doing  a photography course, but I have a film going on in Spring of next year, which is called "Ironclad" and it's about the Magna Carta it's got some really interesting actors involved, so. . hopefully
Like who?

Richard Attenborough, Paul Giamatti, Robert Carlisle, Pete Posewitz, Bob Hoskins, should be really fun, James Pierpoint, do you know him, he's in a play, in the Lee--
When did you recognize that you had the potential to do this role?
I don't know if I ever realized I had the potential, but I realized it was  what I wanted to do,   I was about was ten years old, I knew this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, it just seemed right,
 its' like sometimes when you land somewhere or you smell something, or you walk somewhere, and you see, something, and it  seems familiar, as if this is where you've been before, you can't really explain it but it was one of these kinds of moments, I auditioned for this very local story which was a BBC adaptation, I didn't end up getting it, but I got down to the last few went through all the auditioning phases, but I loved it. We were kids and there was a whole group of kids, and we were bouncing off their energies, then five years later, the same casting director came back casting for Narnia, and I ended up getting the part as Peter, and I just knew at 10 years old that was it, for me
But at 21 you don't have to worry about the adolescent role any longer, you don't have to worry about the transition between teen star and child star/ adult star.
Well, you'd be surprised, you see, I look so young for my age, I cant' really play a romantic lead  cause I don't really look old enough, I look like somebody in high school, and  I'm not really a high school student either, you know what I mean? It's kind of like a little bizarre, so it's just finding that right place for me

When you started this whole process as Peter, had you read the books?
I hadn't actually read them, but I used to listen to story-tapes, I used to listen to The Silver Chair, I think the only one I'm not familiar with now, is the Voyage of the Dawn Treader (laughter) I'll have to go see that one in cinema.
ME Do you see a moral or spiritual theme in Caspian?
WM A spiritual theme is a really good point, and again you say a moral theme, What is the right thing, at the end of the day we have choices in life,  we have two doors, you know, we can choose the easy door which is where people usually end up getting hurt, and the other door which is the hard door, where you end up getting helped, and  Peter especially  in this film chooses the easy door, and people usually end up getting hurt,  and he realizes, you know, where do I stand emotionally physically in this role as this person, and he realizes that he needs help, he needs Caspian , he needs Lucy, he needs his family, you know, he ends up going the harder route, which obviously helps the whole of Narnia out. So I think Sprittually you can look at so many interesting things. . . .
On the DVD are you doing the commentary?
ALL of us sitting in the room six of us with Andrew, we just sit talked about each scene.
Where there any scenes where you did most of the talking about?
The fight scenes. (laughter)

I'm a pretty physical person, and I was  lucky that this film was a very physical film because Andrew. Really threw some incredible scenes in there, so I got to talk about my horse stunt, my Peter-Miraz fight, some of the battle scenes all sorts of different things because I sort of represented the stunt coordinator, Alan Poppleton a really incredible interesting guy who obviously doesn't get much appreciation, as you can imagine he was working three months  every Sat and Sun straight, so I felt like I also had to really make that clear to people as well.
Your character gets to explore this morality which the whole world of Narnia is all about, how did this inform your own life, assuming  the road which  he has traveled did it make your own road as a person easier?
It think that whether I was thinking about it consciously or subconsciously definitely helped me or made a difference to me it was kind of interesting, as I was going through struggles, in my life Peter was going through struggles in his world, and so I could automatically relate back to what I was naturally feeling at times, then when I was feeling trials, Peter was feeling ironically trials,  so there was definitely a sort of osmosis, there almost, where it's been …
End of transcript

William Moseley
Read part of Screwtape Letters found them too doctrinal, dictating right and wrong.
Doesn't necessarily want university, like we do here in US where everyone does university,  sister took a gap year off to go to South America and find herself, thought it was great that I went to London for a year, to do the same.
Takes courses to improve himself and occupy his time
Loves the idea of being a knight, like St George, patron of England, and King Arthur
Has a normal life going to pubs with friends, sees Skandar, and emails Anna and Georgi, they can get together often UK is small country.
Doug Gresham is funny guy buying a really fast racecar
Doesn't want to get a big head, no paparazzi camping outside his window, sometimes fans come to him for autographs he seems surprised and delighted when it happens, or when they recognize him at hotel registrations
Loves being able to travel and visit folk's home in country, coming to LA when it's raining like hell in London, I packed my bags like when I was a kid, a day earlySurreal sitting in Hollywood, talking about his next DVD in 85 degrees sunny

Ben Barnes, university graduate, read Narnia series in college, cynical, looking to develop himself as actor, new experiences.
Made snide comment on Christians after conference.
didn't see Cold War, saw President bush in Miraz council with knights, politics of fear, "They're coming to get us",
about to star in "The Picture of Dorian Gray". Hasn't read the entire series, heard them on tape as a reward when growing up.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello! I absolutely love your post! I adore these two young men, especially William :) Do blog more about them. Its wonderful to know that they're nice people. Ben seems a bit cynical?