Charlie Barnett is a wholehearted actor who never takes life for granted and embraces change as well he accepts new acting challenges. But most importantly, he never ceases to raising awareness to make this world a better place for every person, in which we all could find equality, love, and acceptance.
He is unstoppable; among some of his projects, we have seen him in Chicago Fire, Tales of the City, Russian Doll, Arrow, You, and more recently, in the second season of Special, one of the most relevant comedies nowadays.
This conversation with Charlie Barnett was more than an interview; it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to receive an affectionate message we all should be sharing with others.
Keep reading and join this journey for the change.
Charlie Barnett | Exclusive Interview
VT: I do not know if this is well known, but you have stated you are part of the alumni of Juilliard. How was your experience in that school? Is formal education an important issue for you?
CB: Education is important, period. I’m frustrated by the inabilities and lasting limitations intertwined with some formal schooling. I recognize that I needed that structure and backing (so to speak).
Even without formal education, if you challenge yourself, push your limitations and learn to accept and utilize those boundaries, develop an open mind, a solid willingness to dig for information & advancement, you’ll educate yourself.
You always have to do the work, but that never-ending work goes on long after university, and it is a crux of life. Then you keep educating yourself to do better work and work for more education. And information is all around!
Educating or challenging yourself can weave between entertainment and fun! That being said, Juilliard was CRAZY difficult, and I’m surprised they let me stay the entire way through, no joke.
But equally life-altering and enriching, I wouldn’t change it for all the happiness in the world.
VT: Despite doing theatre and having important roles in groundbreaking projects like the Wolfe Releasing’s Private Romeo, people came to know you thanks to your TV work as being part of the universe of Dick Wolf. So, looking backward, how do you feel about those experiences?
CB: Thankful! Thankful as an actor for one, they initiated my career and provided windows to more opportunities. It also gave me a first-hand education in TV technique, something I didn’t receive in my formal education.
Most thankful, though, to learn and develop a deep respect for the FIRE & RESCUE community and the people involved in the productions. Hands down, I made relationships there that are never-ending.
VT: Some of the projects you have been acting on have the strong presence of particular cities like Chicago, San Francisco, or New York, and I am pretty sure you love all of those places and their people, but when it comes to sports, what are your favorite teams?
CB: Shamelessly, I’ll admit I’m a “Wherever I’m At” kind of fan, you know? I’m a fan of whatever team, in whatever town, at whatever time I’m there, kind of fan.
I enjoy going to games, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve just never settled anywhere long enough. I never want to commit my allegiance to one.
Being raised in the early 2000’s Florida, college football was king. Props to the Tampa Bay Bucs and Lightning! More of a Formula One man as well: GO HAMILTON! I’m in love with a Liverpool fan, so some love there too!
Starting from humanity
VT: Commonly, when an actor has been part of a successful show, he or she, somehow, always seems to be chased by the shadow of that important role, but I truly admire that you have been showing quite an acting range from Tales of the City to Russian Doll. I mean, both characters are so different, but yet you make them so relatable and believable.
Therefore, how do you prepare yourself to impersonate a character knowing that each of those stories might be talking on a personal level to a real person who watches your TV shows and movies?
CB: Well, THANK YOU firstly. I appreciate that! I start from humanity. I have a deep respect for all of our stories and the pathways that make them. I soak in everything I can from everyone I can and relate them, dissect them, then try to find understanding.
I was taught that having compassion for your characters is crucial. And you must understand to have compassion. Plus, I try to do the work! The research, the rooting, the building of the backbone. Develop the secrets, the history, and the applicable relationships with your fellow actors. And then let ALL the work go because you don’t want to show any of it!
Find the ways the character can resonate confident truth through (unfortunately and sometimes fortunately) the limitations of you, the tangible actor. Because you can’t avoid you in the process.
You can hopefully move out of the way to let the character shine. Sometimes you hit it, sometimes you miss it. It’s always a work in progress. But try not to be too hard on yourself throughout. That will be the death of you and all that good work!
VT: This question is slightly similar to the previous one, but what can you tell us about going from being Gabe in You to John Diggle Jr. in Arrow? What excites you when receiving a script and finding out a new and totally different role?
CB: I loved playing each of those roles! I needed to find an off switch to go between each.
It always helps me to find something that roots my character immediately when I’m bouncing between people.
For Gabe, it was breathing techniques. They were each such different people, with the same passion for their ideals! So many of our raw desires, needs, and emotions are extremely similar at the root of people.
Add in a situation, circumstance, environment, history, future desires, boil that up depending on the level of energy your character resonates at, and “DING” you got a whole different human being.
Hahaha, I’m kidding, sort of! It’s way more complicated in relation. But the chemistry of humanity is what excites me. Expanding my own limitations or experiences within that portrayal is my addiction.
VT: Recently, you announced that you are part of the second season of Special. I think that is great news because Ryan O’Connell is a genius. Besides, the show tells a significant story we must share.
Would you like to tell us more about this project and invite our readers to watch this Netflix show?
CB: Please, please, do yourself a favor and give SPECIAL a watch! I was a HUGE fan before being lucky enough to work with the cast and crew. It has such a genuine but punchy comedic voice! And Ryan is not only a genius but so dang warm and welcoming and can have you lying flat out on the ground laughing.
Most of my best stories come from working the consensual “intimate” scenes with Kim (the oh so amazing Punam Patel), managing to be PG while half-naked! But there’s something about being nakedly vulnerable and extremely close to another person while in a home of 30+ clothed onlookers that makes you build a relationship quick. She made me laugh that entire day!
VT: What can you tell us about Wild Game and other projects coming soon?
CB: I was just able to see my first final cut of Wild Game the other night! And I must say I highly enjoyed myself, which is not typical for personal viewings!
It’s a project I worked on in Dubois, Wyoming, at the stunningly beautiful THREE SPEARS RANCH.
A couple of great friends dreamed up this modern western, complete with cowboys, love, drugs, hunting, horseback riding, shootouts, and movie stars. Of course, I couldn’t say NO to that experience!
I worked on a dude ranch in Wyoming for about four summers between college at Juilliard, and it’s one of my favorite places on earth.
The film stars Matt Daddario (Shadowhunters & Trust), Jared Bonner (Marcos Polos), Brock Harris (American Princess & GBF), Creed Garnick (The Last Hunt), and Allison Paige (The Flash & Good Trouble). Not sure when it will be coming out, but I’m looking forward to it!
VT: You have been asking for the end of systemic racism, standing up for equality and social rights for the LGBTQ+ communities, and other similar causes. Do you consider it is important that young people raise their voices and speak out for change in current times?
CB: Not only do I find it essential, but mandatory at times! I wish no person would be forced to arrive at a place where you find yourself HAVING to speak up, incapable of being able to live with the freedom and safety of your fellow human beings.
Unfortunately, that is not the case for so many.
Many people, their family members, and loved ones alike who fall victim to unjust and biased mistreatments, violence, or death have no other option but to speak out. I’m not willing to wait for my son, daughter, partner, parent, or even myself to become another victim before trying to be active enough.
Participating, speaking out for those who couldn’t, speaking out for yourself, raising awareness, and continually challenging your perspectives of yourself and other communities becomes mandatory.
Yes, it’s scary, risky, and can place you directly in a position of harm. So, please, always be safe and conscious of what you’re taking on. Protect yourself and the others around you.
In finding that voice, though, even just starting from a personal level, you start to find power, respect, strength, and an understanding in yourself and our often vast communities. All that being said, I need to and can do so much more!
I recognize the privileges provided to me. And although they don’t require anyone to do more, I’ll never understand a person unwilling to use that privilege and whatever protection it provides to support others. I’m still finding my ways of doing that uncomfortably.
Because pushing for some change is never comfortable. There are options, though.
I have criticized myself often for not doing it “this way or that,” which wastes time. Mostly, centering around utilizing that voice on a social media platform. I have a strong respect and admiration for parts of social media. As well as a significant distrust/fear of the flippancy within the platform. I’m still finding ways to navigate it respectfully for myself.
I am most comfortable actively participating.
Physical activity and direct personal conversations are what fit for me at this moment.
Finding and working at support lacking organizations, food banks, or community centers, involving oneself participating in aid campaigns, making the calls, reading and signing the documentation for change, educating yourself on the situations, non-violent protests, and of course “showing up” is what I do to make a change.
I want to push those boundaries and options further out, demanding more from myself and utilizing my privileges or abilities. I think it’s always important, though, to use first what you know works for you! And never stop trying to push that voice safely and tactfully forward.
VT: Which message would you like to share with those young people who might be having difficult times right now?
CB: That’s a hard one. The world is in a tough place, no doubt.
I can be very “peace and love” and “have hope in the goodness of people” at times. But all that “have faith” stuff doesn’t always keep you afloat! Especially in times like we are currently in.
Historically, we all know life has never been a walk in the park. And honestly, at any age, it can be unbearable. Every new generation faces challenges or battles pushing forward change, and the future inevitably is always undetermined.
I’ve started to have a twisted faith in that unknown, and maybe it helps. It, at the very least, provides an opportunity for something different or better!
We can all see young people taking the reins of that opportunity like never before. It’s incredibly inspirational and empowering to an old or age-developed person like me! So first and foremost, thank you!
With everything happening nationally, internationally, and terrestrially, I know I’m not equipped to give the support or the information needed. But look around at others!
I’m continually blown away by the abilities of our young people within those, sometimes truly terrifying restraints.
Have faith in your possibilities! Of course, challenge them every chance you get, but build up that “faith in yourself muscle” now! It won’t allow you to run scared or procrastinate around your unimagined opportunities.
Reach out to others! Find the people, groups, or environments that make you feel safe and supported. Allow yourself to take chances practicing being honest and vulnerable within them.
I’m constantly surprised to learn I’m not alone, and some person or people out there somewhere can relate, if not also help! And lastly, understand that pain, struggle, and even sadness are an essential part of growth and full life.
You’ll start to see the most formidable challenges as integral to your greatness!
VT: Anything else you would like to share with Vanity Teen?
CB: Find the ways to be brutally honest with yourself, yet always GOOD to yourself.
Find ways to eliminate any mindset that you can’t. And foster the ways that make life fit best for all that makes you, you! It takes time.
You might not ever have it all figured out, but with work, you’ll find freedom and possibly greatness!
Never forget to thank people who help along the way, and don’t be an idiot. Ask for help!
Before we go
Charlie Barnett spoke his heart out, and we cannot thank him enough for that. However, instead of thanking him for his words, I am sure he will appreciate it if we remember his message, take care of the ones we love, and join forces to pursue our dreams of a more welcoming world for everyone.
How about starting now?