Celebrity News

Ben Barrington: ‘My almighty decision’

The big move that has changed the Almighty Johnsons star’s life.

The sign outside Ben Barrington’s house warns, “Beware of the Dog”. When the Almighty Johnsons star appears at the door, however, there’s an extremely non-threatening, handbag-sized Yorkshire terrier named Jeff sitting snugly under his arm.

First impressions of Ben are also deceptive. He may be a handsome, single star, who plays a powerful god with a penchant for partying, but he’s also recently become the proud owner of a beautiful home, which he is lovingly transforming into a private haven.

“Being a homeowner does feel quite grown-up in a sense, but more than anything else it’s just a nicer way to live,” admits the 35-year-old, who says he’s deeply relieved not to be in a flatting situation anymore. “There’s nothing worse than not looking forward to coming home.”

The Hamilton-born star flatted in Auckland for several years, spent three years in London house-sitting for an aristocratic English family and most recently lived as a lodger at a friend’s place. In his new setup, the happy landlord shares his three bedroom home with his good friend, One News reporter Ruth Wynn-Williams.

And in an outhouse in the corner of his garden he has what he calls “half a flatmate”– a flight attendant for British Airways, who spends every other month there. “I don’t even know when he’s there sometimes. He just turns up with his towel and his toilet bag,” jokes Ben.

Buying his own place has also given him a deeper sense of stability that his lifestyle doesn’t always provide. “Acting means you’re like a rudderless ship a lot of the time,” says Ben, who has also appeared in Outrageous Fortune and has just started filming Jane Campion’s new miniseries Top of the Lake.

“Those milestones in life that a lot of people check off as the years go by aren’t the same for actors, because it’s a different kind of existence. Even when you start a job, you’re thinking, ‘What will I do in three or four months’ time?’ You can’t plan ahead.”

Homeowner Ben has discovered a whole new side to himself. “I actually enjoy doing the cleaning now,” he declares, as he surveys his immaculate, open-plan kitchen and living room. “When you’re flatting you don’t care about these things and when I look back on what I put up with… Now I put music on and I just get into the zone.”

He relied on his own instincts to find the right place to create his home, but he did ask for some female input before he took the plunge. “I liked the house right away but I came back with some girlfriends because I knew girls would look for things that guys don’t. They liked it too, so I got Mum and Dad to check it out.”

As for the decorating, Ben’s sense of style is also coming into its own. “I’m on TradeMe all the time,” reveals the actor, who has a fondness for kitsch retro furnishings, which he seeks from around the country. “When I first bought the place I didn’t have any furniture, but it’s exciting to have my own stuff. I’ve got more to get but I prefer to hunt around rather than buying it all at once.”

Surprisingly, the man who effortlessly plays the party-hard oracle Olaf on screen says he’s yet to throw a housewarming do. Instead, the keen cook is hoping to host some dinner parties – once he’s found just the right chairs to match his dining table, that is.

But despite the leap towards settling down, the eligible bachelor isn’t feeling too tied down by his choices. “Owning my own place doesn’t limit me from living in other countries,” says Ben. “And with my line of work, travelling is always an option. It’s just really nice to know now that this is where my roots are.”

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