The Big Time

He's already won an Olivier, but a role in the film Dunkirk is set to propel Aneurin Barnard to international stardom.

Aneurin Barnard

At 29 years old, Aneurin Barnard lives with his fiancée, in South London. Barnard has already won the prestigious Laurence Olivier Award for his role in the musical Spring Awakening and has been nominated for a BAFTA for War and Peace. He was a singer in a band at school, and entered the odd competition so when he was about 14 or 15, managers and record labels started to circle around him which then inspired him and his dad to move to London where they were presented with a huge, life-changing record contract.

Barnard attended a theatre club as a child, resulting in a year-long role in an HTV Wales series, Jacobs Ladder. He then won a place at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and since graduating, he has played roles including photographer David Bailey in We'll Take Manhattan and Cilla Black's husband Bobby in the ITV mini-series Cilla. Adding to his acting profile he’s also just been in a five-part BBC drama SS-GB, with actors Kate Bosworth and Sam Riley, which is based on the 1978 novel by spy novelist Len Deighton.

Barnard was chosen to act in a Christopher Nolan's Second World War feature film, Dunkirk, starring an epic cast that includes Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Harry Styles and Kenneth Branagh. He says, "What an opportunity... it made me feel like I must be good enough at my job for Nolan to have me on board.”

Richard Burton is an idol of his and he says, "My father continuously played War of the Worlds on the stereo (Burton was the narrator), so I grew up listening to his voice. It really empowered me.” Growing up, all the men in his life were coal miners. The son of a coal miner and a factory-worker mum, he knew that money would have transformed the lives of his family. The mining industry collapsed and the village Barnard grew up in, Ogmore Vale, became poverty-stricken. "I realise how lucky I am," Barnard says. "I've always felt unbelievably fortunate that I have the family that I do. They really believed in me when I was taking a chance on a dream of becoming an actor, when others around me may have been saying it was a fantasy." His family had every reason to believe in him. He has fully repaid their faith in his talents.

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