Darren Barnet star on “Never Have I Ever”

Darren Barnet is known for being an actor and writer. Currently, he is a series regular on the Netflix original series, Never Have I Ever, which is written and created by Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher. He will also be the leading man in the latest American Pie spin-off titled and American Pie Presents: Girls Rules.

See Darren Barent’s interview with TV Series Hub below.

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Still from Never Have I Ever with Darren Barnet [credit: Netflix] 

Let’s start with a philosophical question. What do you think is acting, as a whole, and for you as somebody who practices it as a career? Is it a profession, a culture, a habit, or just pure imagination? It can be none of the above.

I think acting is among the purest and honest forms of human communication. I think of it like this; during a normal conversation, you can’t help but think of what you’re going to say next while the other person is still talking. It’s natural in order to keep the conversation flowing. Acting is different. I already know what my response is, so my job is to live as presently as possible and be affected by every word my co-star is saying. I really feel the best acting is done while listening, not delivering lines. 

Congratulations on all your latest projects. You have a big year with 3 projects coming out, including the shows “Never Have I Ever” and the film “American Pie Presents: Girls Rules”. That’s a very diverse filmography. Is it this diversity to showcase the talent that attracted you to each of them individually? We would love it if you could share with us how these projects came about.

Never Have I Ever came. At first, it was any other audition. This was before we had a title, so the project was called “untitled Mindy Kaling project,” Of course I knew of Mindy but the name didn’t register right away. I went in for the audition and the next thing I knew I was testing in front of Mindy. I walked in and said out loud, “Holy Sh*t it’s Mindy Kaling, I’m kinda freaking out. Thankfully, everyone laughed and it broke the ice. This project was honestly a dream from start to finish. The cast, the crew, everyone. It all just flowed. I think you’ll see what I mean when you watch the show. 

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Darren Barnet (Credit: Erik Johnson)

American Pie was last, and I got the offer for the film while still shooting NHIE. I remember going to the audition straight from set and still had my makeup and wardrobe on I believe as I was rushing. It was such a gift being able to wrap a project and go straight back to work. I got to skip the post-work lull for a minute. This film was so much fun, and I’m honored to be a part of the franchise. What I love about this film as well as NHIE is that they are led by females and they touch on topics of sexuality in a way that’s been taboo for so long. They “go there” for lack of a better expression. 

What genre is your favorite to watch and to play? Is it the same?

I love the dark dramatic roles, thrillers, suspense. I love playing the villain. They are the most fun. I honestly never saw myself doing comedy, but I realized that the intensity I play in drama can translate directly to comedy. Great comedy is based in reality, so I play it as real and raw as possible. If you think you’re being “funny” or trying to be, you usually aren’t. If anyone wants to give David Fincher or Scorsese a call, I can take over for Leo during his sick days. Just kidding. No, I’m not. 

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Darren Barnet [credit: Brad Everett]

I read that you speak a lot of languages and you are great at accents. What prompted the interest? Do learning languages come naturally to you or do you have to put in the significant effort?

I don’t speak a lot of languages. I lived in a lot of Latino neighborhoods growing up and most of my friends were Hispanic so I picked up it pretty well. I took French and Japanese in high school. Japanese because of my heritage. Dialects have been something I’ve been obsessed with since I could talk. I loved impersonation actors and people I’d hear on the street. During high school, I had one best friend and we realized at graduation that we never spent one day talking in our normal accents. We had at least 30 different characters and alter-egos we would switch back and forth from. Sometimes I go to restaurants and put on an accent the whole time. Little did I know I was training for the rest of my life. 

Do you have a dream role? If so, what is it?

I would love to play a character like Tyler Durden in David Fincher’s Fight Club. I would love to tackle a young Joker. Something time period like a 1920’s NYC mafioso. Or anything Leo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp has done. 

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Darren Barnet [credit: Alex Lutt]

Can you tell us more about your character, Paxton in “Never Have I Ever”? What are some ways an average viewer can relate to him? If he were an animal, what would he be?

Paxton on the surface is your typical high school dreamboat. An aloof jock that everything seems to come easy to. However, under his exterior, he has many layers that you would never see without getting to know him. Surely anyone can relate to sometimes being judged by their cover. That is definitely Paxton. If Paxton were an animal, I think he would be a Golden Retriever. 

How was the experience of working with Mindy Kaling?

Mindy was an absolute dream to work with. She is so seasoned in what she does, and her name carries merit enough for her to basically take over production and tell everyone what to do. That wasn’t her at all. She was so open to collaboration and input from the actors. The entire shooting process was a playground and she let us play a lot. 

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The cast of Never Have I Ever with Mindy Kaling [credit: Netflix]

You also write screenplays and have written a short film that you also acted in. How far does your passion for writing extend? Would ever consider writing a feature film?

 I love acting with all my heart, but I must admit that part of me sees it as a vehicle. I wrote before I ever did anything else creatively. The dream is to write and star in one of my own thrillers. 

When preparing for a role, do you use music to help you with the tone or emotion? How much work do you have to put in for a character you spend less time with than one through whom you see the story?

Every character requires different preparation. I’d watch movies of the era and listen to the lingo and dialect so I could emulate in my own fashion. Sometimes my prep is very minimal, I must admit. On another note, I do believe over-working can kill your character. If it flows organically in me, I just go with it. 

Would you like to share a fun fact about yourself with us?

I am Japanese, Cherokee Indian, German, and Swedish. Also, my grandfather was a world-famous big band leader by the name of Charlie Barnet.