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Exclusive: Never Have I Ever stars Darren Barnet and Jaren Lewison share their favorite coming-of-age movies

Promotional stills from Never Have I Ever.
Darren Barnet and Jaren Lewison are stuck in a life triangle in Never Have I Ever. Pic credit: Netflix

The sticky love triangle in Netflix’s Never Have I Ever has divided fans into two teams: Team Ben or Team Paxton. On one side, there’s the bantering nerd, Ben Gross, and on the other is the school’s popular jock Paxton Hall-Yoshida.

While the first season of Never Have I Ever hesitated to dive too much beneath the surface for the two characters, things were amped up in the latest season, which premiered on July 15. Playing the two multi-dimensional characters are actors Darren Barnet and Jaren Lewison.

Speaking about his character’s journey in this season, Jaren Lewison told Monsters & Critics, “Ben really goes through a lot this season. You’re going to see him go through tremendous periods of romance and joy and genuine happiness. And on the flip side, he’s going to go through an incredible amount of pain and heartbreak, and trauma. And you’ll have to see kind of how he navigates through that.”

Monsters & Critics had the opportunity to chat with Darren Barnet and Jaren Lewison about their favorite coming-of-age movies and their characters in Never Have I Ever Season 2.

On their favorite coming-of-age movies

While Barnet and Lewison seem to be polar opposites in Never Have I Ever, apart from their mutual love for the show’s main character Devi, the two actors could agree on something: The Breakfast Club is one of the most iconic coming-of-age movies.

When asked if they had any favorite coming-of age-characters or movies that inspired them while filming Never Have I Ever, Lewison shared, “I think immediately for me, it’s like The Breakfast Club or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Both of those are two of my favorites. They’re honestly quite perfect movies.”

“For me, I think Ferris Bueller’s Day Off would be my favorite just because I love the tone. I love the direction. I love the pace. I love the comedic beats. I love how much is going on. And I think that it does remind me a lot of our show as well.”

Adding on, Barnet said, “The Breakfast Club was going to be mine. I mean, that’s all contained in one location, but they’re dealing with so many various topics and very relevant things that were ahead of its time for that period and the soundtrack is amazing. I think that all couples into what this show is, you know.”

On their characters

Both characters, Ben and Paxton, go through the wringer this season. After being unknowingly thrust into an open relationship, they each find themselves navigating heartbreak and betrayal.

Lewison spoke to us about Ben’s storyline this season, “I think that it’s interesting, each situation, he’s kind of figuring out how he deals with everything that he’s feeling and sometimes he’s not quite sure. He makes it up as he goes along. And, you know, we’ll have to see how that kind of impacts his relationship with other characters and all that kind of stuff. So it’s super interesting. And I’m really curious and excited to see what fans think about Ben’s arc this season.”

Talking about diving into his character, Barnet shared that it doesn’t much preparation to transition himself back to high school while playing Paxton.

He said, “Coming out of Season 1, I felt like I had a very good grasp on what he was and where I would love to have him go. And Season 2 answered all of my prayers and wishes on that because it’s really everything I wanted to see. I wanted to see him trying. I wanted to see him, for the first time, having to try and not getting what he wanted. Chasing Devi, chasing a girl for the first time and getting more vulnerable, which he does, and also diving more into his culture.”

Check out our full interview.

Never Have I Ever is currently streaming on Netflix.

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