Darren Barnet is an American actor famous for playing Paxton Hall-Yoshida in Netflix’s Never Have I Ever. Barnet started auditioning for roles while practicing real estate in California. In 2017, he landed minor roles in This is Us, Criminal Minds, and S.W.A.T. In 2018, he played Hot Seth in the teen drama Turnt.
Barnet appeared in Family Reunion and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D before landing the central role of Paxton in Never Have I Ever. He played the lead role of Grant in 2020’s American Pie Presents: Girls’ Rules and is set to appear as Tag in Love Hard.
Darren Barnet is of Swedish, Japanese, German, and Cherokee Native American descent.
The showrunners incorporated Darren’s Asian ancestry into Never Have I Ever when they heard him speak Japanese
Darren was born on 27th April 1991 in Los Angeles, California. His father is of Cherokee and German ancestry, and his mother is of Japanese and Swedish descent. Barnet grew up alongside an older and younger sister.
Barnet credits his mom for pushing him to be the success he is today. “My mom, in real life, is Japanese and she always pushed me to the edge,” Barnet told BriefTake.
Darren first learnt Japanese from his grandmother, who taught him how to count. He then learned the language in school for two years. To sharpen his knowledge of the language, Darren spoke Japanese with the assistant director Yuko Ogata on set.
One of the co-creators caught wind of Barnet’s Japanese heritage and offered to include it in his character. Barnet said:
“They came up to me and said, ‘Hey were you speaking Japanese with Yuko? Are you Japanese?” and I said, “Yes, my mom is,” and they said, “We’d love to incorporate that into your character, do you mind?” And I said, “Of course, let’s do it!” So my character’s name went from being Paxton Hall to Paxton Hall-Yoshida. That was awesome.”
The appreciation of his Japanese heritage surprised Darren. He’d previously thought that his mixed ethnicity would be a hindrance to success as an actor. “I thought people would go, ‘They had a part-Japanese character and this is the guy they chose?” he said. “He’s not Japanese enough.”
Darren’s great grandfather was Jazz saxophonist Charles Barnet
Before his appearance in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Darren did some research into his family history. “My grandfather, Charlie Barnet, was a big swing musician in the 1930s and 40s,” Darren said.
Charlie’s greatest hits include Southland Shuffle and Cherokee.