Narnia's Handsome Prince

updated 05/26/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/26/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

AGE: 26
HOMETOWN: London, England
LATEST GIG: Battling for the throne as the title role in The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

NOW THAT'S A KNIFE: "Sword fighting is as fun as it looks," says Barnes, a London stage actor who got a 4 a.m. call with news he'd won the Prince-ly role over 500 others. "I ran around the house like a madman, screaming." Then he spent six hours a day for weeks learning to ride a horse and wield a sword for the role.

COMING OUT ... AS AN ACTOR: He's the first actor in his Brit family. "I'm the crazy one," he says. (Dad is a psychiatrist; Mom is a psychotherapist.) "When I was 17, I had the courage to tell them I wanted to act. They said, 'Go to university first.'"

SEX SYMBOLISM: Spotting his billboard on L.A.'s Sunset Blvd., "left me short of breath," says Barnes. With his new heartthrob status—"It's embarrassing," he says, "but it brings a smile to my face"—the single actor isn't letting success go to his crown. "My parents and brother would slap me down if it were ever required."

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