Actor Ben Barnes is ready for a bit of on-screen swash and buckle as the new prince of Narnia. Alison Jones caught up with him as he paused to smell the roses at the NEC.
You expect to run into the odd green fingered presenter at a television garden show. Movie stars are somewhat rare flowers, however.
But Ben Barnes the star of the new Narnia movie is attracting a few quizzical looks as he sits clutching a coffee - jet lag woke him at 3am - in the refreshment tent, people possibly making the connection between him and the posters on the sides of bus shelters all across the Midlands.
For Ben, at the NEC to celebrate the fact that a rose has been named after his character Prince Caspian, is enjoying the gentility of this particular press junket where the crowd is more interested in fuschias than film actors.
"I have done interviews on horseback and things like that. In Japan you have these very quirky interviewers who dress up in ridiculous outfits to get your attention."
The Chronicles of Narnia isn't Ben's fantasy feature debut, that came in 2007's Stardust.but this is the first time he will be the main focus.
"I was on a plane flying from New York to Los Angeles and Stardust was the only film that was playing and every single person on the plane was watching it. I thought this is going to be embarrassing, everyone is going to be staring. Not one person batted an eyelid, looked up my way. I was almost offended," he laughs.
"You never know, maybe nobody will notice."
With Ben already signed up for the next Narnia movie, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and roles in Noel Coward's Easy Virtue and Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray destined for cinema release next year, it is unlikely the 26-year-old Londoner will be able to cling onto his anonymity for much longer.
Ben acknowledges his rise through the acting ranks has been rapid. It was only two years ago that he was guest starring in the Birmingham-based daytime soap Doctors.
Shortly after that he was cast in the National Theatre's touring production of the History Boys, which began its run at Birmingham Rep.
He jumped ship, or stage, before it finished though after being cast as Caspian, reportedly much to the annoyance of the NT.
"I didn't not tell the National Theatre I was going," he says, looking uncomfortable.
"I had been touring for six months and I had several weeks left, I had an understudy and everything but I just felt like it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up.
"It was always my dream to work at the National Theatre. I have been going there since I was 10 years old. It is just unfortunate that my dream of being the lead in a Hollywood film came true before the end of the run."
The son of a psychiatrist and a therapist, Ben has been remarkably level-headed in his approach to his career.
He had been a member of the National Youth Music Theatre since he was 16 but chose not to go to drama school. Instead he studied English and drama at Kingston University.
"It was just to make sure that acting was what I wanted... and then I spent the entire time directing plays and taking them up to the Edinburgh fringe festival, so when I got out I didn't really feel like I had got any other choice. I immediately went into a fringe production in London.
"The last four years or so I have just been climbing the ladder really but I have been lucky enough to hit each rung once."
His luck extended to his casting as Caspian. The director Andrew Adamson had spent a year looking for a Spanish speak-ing actor to play the part, as the race Caspian comes from are said to be descended from pirates and Pacific island women.
"They couldn't find someone who could strike the balance between the Mediterranean accents of the Telmarines and the very English vernacular of CS Lewis," he explains.
With his dark brown hair, grown fop-pishly long, as befitting a fairy-tale prince, and brown eyes, he fitted the bill physically.
To prepare for his audition Ben dug out his copy of the Princess Bride and copied the Latin accent adopted by Mandy Patinkin as the swordsmen Inigo Montoya.
A month later Ben found himself in New Zealand and enrolled in "Narnia bootcamp".
"Caspian spends a third of the film on a horse so I had to spend six or seven hours a day on a horse, learn sword fighting and have dialect coaching."
He was also wrestling he idea of what kind of prince he wanted to be.
"The interesting thing is other countries don't really have a concept of a prince other than the romanticised Disney version, a Prince Charming. Whereas we have our own princes who fall out of night clubs but who also go off to secretly fight in wars and other honourable activities.
"I was very keen not to play a stereotypical Hollywood prince because that is not the Caspian I remembered from reading the books when I was eight. He is uncomfortable in the position he finds himself in and with the responsibilities of being a leader and doesn't feel he deserves to be king, which I think is probably quite an English thing."
The second movie has been described as darker than the first, though Ben believes that is because the villain of this particular piece is human, rather than a witch who cruelly bans Father Christmas and transforms people into statues when they displease her.
"If you die in this one you don't just turn to stone. I think this film is more relatable."
Ben believes that his literature studies have given him an extra edge when it comes to teasing out the decent scripts.
"There is so much crap, it is hard to sift through. But I have worked on Alan Bennett then CS Lewis, Noel Coward and now I am just about to start an Oscar Wilde, I have been very lucky in terms of the material coming my way."
He is hoping that this impressively literary body of work might one day eclipse the intriguing footnote on his performance CV that he was once a Eurovision song contest hopeful.
An interview with a teen magazine revealed he was a backup singer in the boyband Hyrise, who were in the running to represent the UK in 2004.
"Eurovision was something (that happened) while I was at college," he mutters. "We had one song and we performed it once. It was... YouTube has a lot to answer for."
* The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian is in cinemas from today.