Ben Barnes reveals why playing the Darkling was ‘much more interesting’ in ‘Shadow and Bone’ season 2

Ben Barnes

Actor Ben Barnes recently expressed why portraying General Kirigan — aka The Darkling — in the new season of Shadow and Bone was riveting during an interview with Deadline.

The hit Netflix series, based on a book trilogy of the same name, follows the adventures of an orphan mapmaker Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li), as she attempts to save the world against the dark forces after discovering her powers.

In Shadow and Bone, Barnes’ character, who was also the leader of the Grisha army in Ravka, was often described as an individual that appeared to be charming and well-admired. But following the events of the Volcra attack at the end of season one that left many to believe that General Kirigan succumbed to his injuries, Barnes shared that his character’s true qualities will be coming to light once he makes his return to Ravka in the show’s second season. 

In the discussion with the publication, Barnes revealed one of the reasons he’s excited for Shadow and Bone‘s new season is that General Kirigan is no longer hiding behind the façade of others’ opinions, which he claims is a freeing experience for the character. The 41-year-old said, 

“He’s unleashed into this slightly more raw territory, and that felt quite freeing actually, just to be able to walk into the scene and say, ‘This is what I’m trying to do. And if you don’t help me, I’m going to kill you.’ I think that was an interesting counterbalance to the first season.”

Later, Barnes disclosed that in addition to General Kirigan’s transformation, he worked alongside the Shadow and Bone‘s showrunners to give more depth to his character. Barnes stated that his participation in the process was because he wanted fans to see another side of General Kirigan, all his character is going through, and what he is set to lose. 

“But then what was important to me, and the thing that we worked on really hard was to add something that’s not really in the books, which was my issue when talking about the second season initially, was that there aren’t really stakes for him as a character because he’s all powerful and fears nothing. So we worked very closely with our showrunners on having something for him to be afraid of. Spending another eternity alone is very scary for him but also he’s being poisoned by his own demons. I think it’s much more interesting if there is mortality to this character and awareness of it because when time runs short, that’s when you make decisions that feel important.”

Season two of Shadow and Bone is currently streaming on Netflix.