Darren Barnet, who you may know as Paxton Hall-Yoshida from Netflix's Never Have I Ever, is moving into the gaming realm with EA's new fantasy action game Immortals of Aveum.


But why does he think we're starting to see so much crossover in talent between movies, television and gaming? Is performing in a game becoming more of a respectable occupation?

Barnet spoke to RadioTimes.com over Zoom, shortly before taking to the Summer Game Fest stage, saying: "Yeah. I mean, I'll call it what it is, too — actors really like to work.

"We're living in that world now, where it's not just you have to be a movie star or on a show like Friends. There's a lot of mediums and a lot of platforms. So I think, yeah, like if it's a good story, and it's cool, like... an actor loves a job, you know?

"And that's partially the reason. But in terms of, like, crossovers, between like video games to film, I've seen that a lot. And if they're executed right, they can be great.

"I think that's just because the writing of these games has become very good. Very, very good. It's also very immersive. You know, it's like, when you playing a game, you're playing it and controlling it, but you're also watching it. It's like you're part of a film that you're kind of creating as you go, which is a lot of fun."

You might assume that Barnet got this gig after his sizeable role in Never Have I Ever, but you'd be wrong! He told us: "When it came across the desk, I was still a bit, you know, lacking knowledge in terms of what that meant for an actor and how it was done.

"This is before I was really doing anything. I wasn't doing Never Have I Ever. I was still just doing little co-star roles here and there."

Barnet continued: "Next thing I knew, I was offered the role. And had no idea where it was gonna go, or what it was gonna be about, but it seemed interesting. So it was an easy yes."

Now, years later, we're starting to see the fruit of Ascendant Studios' labour on the game, which will be published later this year by EA Originals.

Barnet plays the lead character, Jak, in the game. Of the character, he said: "Jak really kind of comes from nothing. He's from the street. And he goes through a very traumatic experience that instils him with this magic power.

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"He climbs the ranks up and then you're gonna see him, basically, as part of the Immortals, which is like the Navy Seals of magic sorcery. And he is in the middle of the Everwar, trying to save the world from Sandrak."

Barnet noted: "There's a lot of high stakes things happening in this game — he's trying to save the world, pretty much — but there's also a very fun side to him, and I think a lot in the game is gonna make people laugh. He's an enjoyable character to play with, I think."

And how did working on a game compare to working in TV and film? Barnet diplomatically said: "I enjoy both jobs. But on a set, it can be taxing because you're working with hundreds of people on the set.

"It's a huge machine to make work. So you're always kind of racing against the clock. And there's hair, there's makeup, there's so many moving parts.

"So it's cool with a video game, because you get to show up, don't have to worry about makeup, hair, or what you're wearing, and just strictly worry about the performance and the story. And you're also not working with a million people that you're at the mercy of their time. So it was a very fun collaborative space."

Darren Barnet's character, Jak, in key art for Immortals of Aveum.
Darren Barnet's character, Jak, in key art for Immortals of Aveum. EA

Speaking to the logistics involved, Barnet recalled, "We did the mo-cap a couple times. But that was before - you know - COVID. I guess we call those the before times. After that, it became a lot of in-studio, like, [wearing] a helmet with a camera."

As the pandemic intensified, at one point, Barnet "had to make a sound studio in, like, a three-foot-wide by like six-foot-tall closet. It was very claustrophobic for a minute there, but the product came out alright".

When you're in a proper studio, though, "there's a screen in front of you with the lines on it. And then you have a camera in front of your face with a light beaming into you. So it's a lot of, you know, imagination.

"You find yourself doing a lot of physicality when they want things like, 'Give me a sound of you dying. Now give me a sound of a quick death, a long death, a painful death."

Barnet added: "It's funny what you do with your body, in those instances, you don't even realise you're doing it." When he was recording the sounds for Jak running along, for example, he said: "My arms were swinging, definitely swinging."

Jak unleashes a magical sigil attack in Immortals of Aveum.
Jak unleashes a magical sigil attack in Immortals of Aveum. EA

Now that Immortals of Aveum's launch is near, Barnet can stop using his imagination for a moment and see the end product. We asked if it's weird to see the fully computer-generated version of yourself, and Barnet replied: "Yeah, it's wild."

But is it cool to see the game coming together after all these years? Barnet enthused: "Oh man, it's a rush. Yeah, I watched a long video last night showing a lot of gameplay and a lot of in-game monologues and scenes, and it's coming together so well. That's really amazing to see."

As for his own gaming habits, Barnet recalled fond memories of playing boxing game Fight Night, as well as NBA Street and NFL Street. And he also gave a shoutout to GTA, which he played "with [his] mother's reluctance."

Nowadays, Barnet said: "I just play story mode. I don't like going online, because people are too good. It makes me hate the game. So I just stay in story mode. That's my mode."

Finishing up our conversation about this magical combat game, Barnet joked: "I hope I don't find myself like playing the game and then instinctively trying to use a sigil in real life.

"I'm still convinced I might have it in me. It's just gonna take the right moment."

Immortals of Aveum launches on the 20th July 2023 for PC, PS5 and Xbox Series X/S.

For more from this interview, see what Darren Barnet told us about Paxton's ending in Never Have I Ever.

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