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Faces To Watch 2008

December 30, 2007|Rebecca Ascher-Walsh

BEN BARNES

ACTOR WHO'S A PRINCE OF A GUY IN THE NEXT 'NARNIA'

BARNES' starring moment is still five months away, but already more than 33,000 people have checked out a website devoted to the man who would be king, playing Prince Caspian in Andrew Adamson's "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian," due for release in May.

"It's terrifying," says the 26-year-old British actor. "Everyone has been warning me about what I'm in for, but I think I still don't understand the half of it."

He's not being falsely modest. Even his fan site is lean on details about its icon, and for good reason. Until Barnes landed the starring part in the sequel to the international blockbuster "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe," his greatest claim to fame was a run in the West End production of "The History Boys" and a part in Matthew Vaughn's fantasy "Stardust." Then casting came calling, looking, Barnes says, for "a piratey-swarthy-everyman kind of prince," and three weeks later, the markedly un-piratey, un-swarthy actor was sitting astride a horse on the set in New Zealand.

Since completing production this fall, Barnes has been busy reading scripts and fantasizing about his future, even if he won't be free to take another role until 2009: He's signed up for the third "Narnia" installment, which will begin production next year, and is likely to star in a British comedy, "Easy Virtue," beforehand.

"I'm not being offered roles left and right," Barnes says, "but the difference between before 'Narnia' and now is dramatic. It's unbelievably exciting that it's happened in one year. I think about it all the time, saying to myself, 'You lucky . . . how did you manage this?' I don't know that I necessarily deserve it," he adds, "but I guess we'll find out."

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ZOE KAZAN

ACTRESS WHO COMES FROM A FAMILY OF HIGH ACHIEVERS

THOUSANDS of young actresses move to New York, find a cheap apartment in Brooklyn and try to break into the grueling world of theater. Few of them, however, have the industry pedigree of Kazan, the 24-year-old granddaughter of Oscar-winning director Elia ("On the Waterfront") and the daughter of screenwriter Nicholas Kazan ("Reversal of Fortune") and screenwriter-director Robin Swicord ("The Jane Austen Book Club").

Kazan followed her stage debut last year opposite Cynthia Nixon in "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" by appearing with Lois Smith in "100 Saints You Should Know"; she's currently playing alongside Paul Dano and Peter Dinklage in Jonathan Marc Sherman's "Things We Want," directed by Ethan Hawke. And in between curtain calls and parts in "Fracture" and "In the Valley of Elah," Kazan managed to land her first leading role in a feature, starring opposite Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in next year's period drama "Revolutionary Road," director Sam Mendes' adaptation of Richard Yates' novel.

"The prospect of being in L.A. and [being] one of the millions of people living there doing the same thing scares me much more than theater," says Kazan. "There's an anonymity to L.A. as a young actress, and I think it's much easier to get lazy because there's no connective tissue except for freeways. People get lost."

It's difficult to imagine Kazan, who was brought up in L.A.'s Venice and graduated from Yale, disoriented. When she read "Revolutionary Road" and the character of Maureen Grube, a small town innocent who moves to the city and takes up with her boss, "I told my agent, 'You can't give the part to anybody else,' " says Kazan. "Then I went in for the auditions, and at every turn they said, 'You're wrong for it.' It was six rounds of that. I would call my agents and say, 'Now what?' and they'd say, 'They'll change their minds.' "

"Finally Sam had me come in and sit down and talk with him," Kazan remembers. "We talked about why he was a director and why I was an actor and what I thought the book meant, and when I walked out, I knew I had the role. I didn't mind. It's nice to work for something."

Good thing she feels that way: She's about to begin previews of Manhattan Theatre Club's "Come Back, Little Sheba," which will run through March, and she's in talks to costar in George Miller's superhero feature, "Justice League of America."

-- Rebecca Ascher-Walsh

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