‘Never Have I Ever’ star Darren Barnet on playing romantic leads: ‘I welcome it’

Darren Barnet is a rising star at the center of two Netflix hits: teen series “Never Have I Ever” and rom com “Love Hard.”

“It was interesting, because the show [‘Never Have I Ever’] dropped during Covid, so it wasn’t like I was in many places where I could be recognized,” Barnet, 30, told The Post. 

“But, I went to New York and it was kind of overwhelming…and I recently went to Costa Rica and that showed me how strong the fan base is internationally. It was the first time I felt famous, which was fun but a lot to handle. But I really do love it when fans come up to say hi.”

Darren Barnet as popular jock Paxton sits on the floor at the foot of a bed talking to Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) in "Never Have I Ever."
Darren Barnet as popular jock Paxton talking to Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) in “Never Have I Ever.”

Co-created by Mindy Kaling, “Never Have I Ever” follows Indian American teen girl Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) who is torn between two boys at her high school: prickly academic Ben (Jaren Lewison) and popular jock Paxton Hall-Yoshida (Barnet). 

“It’s fun getting into the mind of a character like that because he’s the guy that everyone wanted to be in high school,” said Barnet. “He’s kind of the opposite of what I was like in high school. I was not a nerd, I’d say I was well-liked, but I was not by any means popular. I was quiet and I was consistently the new kid. I did play sports, I played lacrosse. But our team was atrocious so there are no bragging rights, there!” 

Darren Barnett stands in a school hallway smiling in "Never Have I Ever."
Darren Barnet as popular jock Paxton in “Never Have I Ever.”

“Never Have I Ever” has been renewed for a Season 3.

“I don’t think I’m allowed to say [much about it]” he said. “We go into production at the end of the month. The love triangle definitely is remaining strong. It’s all of the drama and comedy with even more to offer.”

“Love Hard” (now streaming) is also a love triangle, following Natalie (Nina Dobrev, “The Vampire Diaries”), a writer who connects to her perfect match on a dating app, only to meet him and discover that Josh (Jimmy O. Yang) was talking to her using photos of his friend Tag (Barnet).

“Jimmy and Nina were both so easy to play off of,” he said. “I love to improv any chance I get, and they’re in the same lane.”

Darren Barnett lies on a bed surrounded by red and blue mood lighting.
Darren Barnett

Although his most prominent roles to date have been playing romantic leads, Barnet is also producing and starring in the thriller movie “Apophenia,” which he described as “The Shining” meets “Shutter Island.”

“I welcome it for what it’s worth and I enjoy the ride [of playing a romantic lead],” he said. “But, I’m looking forward to spreading my wings and trying different things.” 

In addition to his rom coms, Barnet, who is mixed race Asian American, is also voice acting in several upcoming animated series for Netflix, including “Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles” and “Blue Eye Samurai.”

“I can really thank Mindy Kaling and the show for opening those doors,” he said. “Mindy was the one who highlighted my Japanese heritage on the show. And both animations that I’m doing with Netflix are based in the world of Samurai. It’s really rewarding to do characters like that.” 

source: nypost.com