'Gold Digger' Star Ben Barnes Chose Role That Is 'Complete Opposite' of 'Westworld' and 'The Punisher' (Exclusive)

Starting Monday, fans in the U.S. can see Ben Barnes as they've never seen him before in Gold Digger, a BBC drama that just premiered on Acorn TV. To Americans, Barnes is best-known for playing Logan on Westworld and Billy Russo — or Jigsaw — on The Punisher. This new role though is far different from those action-heavy ones, and in an exclusive interview with PopCulture.com, Barnes said he planned it that way.

"I think that's mainly my thirst for like wanting to do whatever I haven't. Just the complete opposite of whatever I've just done," Barnes told PopCulture. "And I just thought it was time for me to like do something a bit less heightened, a bit more stripped back back, and more intimate."

Barnes said that he went straight from filming The Punisher Season 2 to Gold Digger, and read all six scripts in a single plane ride. He said he was drawn to Gold Digger for "its domesticity and its sort of intimate, small nature." He also loved the story because he felt it was "quintessentially British." After a decade of playing Americans, Barnes admits he was excited for fans to hear his native accent again.

Barnes stars opposite Julia Ormond in Gold Digger, a six-part miniseries about a 60-year-old woman (Ormond) falling in love with a much younger man (Barnes) and how it disrupts her family dynamic. The show questions the way older women are treated by society as opposed to older men — a far cry from the gory action Barnes was coming off of on The Punisher.

"Whenever I finished a job, I'm usually open to, you know, reading and doing things that feel very different for me or whatever I've just done," Barnes continued. "It just keeps it really exciting for me, and I'm always excited to like see the world through different people's eyes. And I read all six episodes of this on a plane, and it just sort of worked on two levels to me."

Barnes explained how the drama drew him in, using its soap opera-like premise as a hook to tell a much bigger story. He felt that it captured some heavy themes while still honoring the genre it comes from.

"You know, on a basic level, it's just this kind of soapy family drama about this guy who comes into a family and is he after this woman's money, or her heart? And that soapy element kind of draws you through, but then it's got all these like very carefully woven threads about family, and history, and secrets, and judgment."


Gold Digger premiered on Monday, May 4 on AMC's Acorn TV streaming app in the U.S. The app comes with a 7-day free trial — more than enough time to binge-watch all six episodes of Gold Digger — and then costs $5.99 per month.