Interview: Darren Barnet on Netflix’s ‘Never Have I Ever,’ Isolation, Self-Love, and Some of His Favs

Photographed by Erik Johnson

Actor, Darren Barnet, who viewers may have seen as a young Jack Pearson in the NBC hit show, This is Us, can now be seen as a series regular in the Netflix original series, Never Have I Ever, which premiered April 27 on Netflix. This series is written and created by Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher. Darren plays Paxton Hall-Yoshida, an aloof jock with a ton of heart. He can also be seen as the leading man in the latest American Pie spin-off titled, American Pie Presents: Girls Rules, as well as a recurring character on the final season of Marvel: Agents of Shield set to air this summer. Darren studied Japanese and French and speaks conversational Spanish. His love for languages has given him an innate gift at accents. Glitter sat down with Darren to talk about how long he’s been acting, what his big break was, and his most memorable time on set.

GLITTER: How long have you been acting?
DARREN: I’ve wanted to be an actor since age five, but understandably so, my parents wanted to redirect my energy. I’ve always been what people would call a “character” I guess I really started the pursuit about five years ago.

GLITTER: What was your big break?
DARREN: A big break to me would be a lead in a Scorsese or David Fincher film. But to date, the projects I have cherished the most and that have really opened doors for me were playing Young Jack Pearson in This Is Us and now as Paxton in Never Have I Ever.

GLITTER: What can you tell us about Netflix original series, Never Have I Ever and your character Paxton?
DARREN: Never Have I Ever is a coming-of-age comedy based on a first-generation Indian American girl navigating through high school. It’s loosely based on Mindy Kaling’s life and is as hilarious as it is heartfelt. I play Paxton. An aloof jock with layers to his personality that you may not see on the surface. These aren’t my words, but he is the “high school heartthrob.”

GLITTER: How are you like your character?
DARREN: Paxton is a book judged by his cover, but has a heart of gold if you take the time to pull back his layers. I can relate to that.

GLITTER: Can you tell us about your character in American Pie Presents: Girls Rules?
DARREN: I play Grant. The new kid at school that becomes somewhat of a romantic target for a dynamic group of girlfriends. He’s accustomed to being the new kid but has no idea what’s in store for him this time.

GLITTER: How do you prepare for your roles?
DARREN: It depends on the role. If it’s time period, I like to spend a few days listening to music from that era. If it’s a certain dialect the character has, I watch movies for a few days with that accent and mimic. It’s a difficult question to answer because each role has different prep.

GLITTER: What is your approach to auditioning?
DARREN: I try to find pockets within the scene where I can add my own flavor while still respecting the vision of the writer. This comes with finding relatable qualities of the character to yourself. I guess I imagine what may be “expected” in a scene and try to tiptoe the boundary.

GLITTER: Can you tell us how and why you chose to become fluent in Japanese and French?
DARREN: I am conversational in Japanese, but I definitely need a refresher course. My grandmother was Japanese and she spoke it to me sometimes growing up. I’ve always been very proud of my heritage so I studied Japanese in school for two years.

GLITTER: Most memorable time on set?
DARREN: There are so many but I remember stepping onto the Paramount lot when I did This is Us. It’s such a nostalgic studio lot, I felt like James Dean was going to round the corner at any second. It was one of those moments like, “wow, I’m really here.” Also before entering my scene I was shadow boxing in the dark to get my heart rate up. Our gaffer could see me and I was just imaging how nuts I looked, haha.

GLITTER: Best advice you were ever given?
DARREN: Art is subjective. Never take things personally.

GLITTER: Who is your mentor?
DARREN: I feel like I have many mentors. Even if they don’t know it. All of the greats and the ones I look up to. Brando, Dean, DiCaprio, Depp, Pacino, my acting coach Will Wallace, and my mom. I do my best to take the best advice and habits from various people and places everywhere. Love ya, mom!

GLITTER: Who are you are looking forward to working with next?
DARREN: David Fincher please make another Fight Club and let me be Tyler Durden.

GLITTER: Glitter has a Celebrity #SelfLoveCampaign, and we want to know, what’s self-love mean to you?
DARREN: Self-love to me is really about taking a moment and assessing things. What will bring you joy? Sure, bubble baths and face masks are great and everything, but sometimes you need a box of pizza.

GLITTER What would be a dream role for you?
DARREN: Tyler Durden, Fight Club. The Joker. Or pretty much anything Leo DiCaprio has done.

GLITTER: What’s on your playlist right now?
DARREN: Golden Era Hip Hop.

GLITTER: Social Isolation has become the new normal for now. What are your favorite things to do right now throughout the day?
DARREN: Exercising keeps me sane. But I’ll be honest I’ve been pretty lazy. I love writing scripts and recording music in my room.

GLITTER: Favorite ways to center yourself and relax?
DARREN: Making a delicious dinner and catching up on Money Heist on Netflix.

GLITTER: Favorite foods to snack on?
DARREN: Ugh it’s quarantine and I want to tell everyone I’ve been eating carrots and lettuce, but let’s be real, I just went through an entire box of Captain Crunch.

GLITTER: What are your top 5 binge-worthy shows?
DARREN: Breaking Bad, Money Heist, Altered Carbon, Schitt’s Creek, and I Am Not Okay With This.

GLITTER: Coffee or Tea?
DARREN: Coffee in the morning, and tea before bed.

GLITTER: Favorite fashion indulgence?
DARREN: Marshall’s and TJ Maxx. 😂

GLITTER: Name your top 5 beauty products.
DARREN: Cerave cleanser and moisturizer, antioxidant vitamin C serum, and 24k gold face mask.

GLITTER: Any projects you can tell us about that you’re working on next?
DARREN: It’s a waiting game for everyone at the moment, but you’ll see soon enough 🙂

GLITTER: Any special talents outside of acting?
DARREN: Harmonica, freestyle rapping, and one-arm pull-ups.

GLITTER: Best social platform for fans to find you?
DARREN: Instagram @darrenbarnet