The actor turned political advisor Skandar Keynes, was born on 5th September 1991 in England. After shooting to fame playing Edmund Pevensie in “The Chronicles of Narnia” film trilogy, Skandar more or less disappeared from the public eye; even so, he’s fondly remembered by fans of the 2000s movie franchise.
Skandar is of Lebanese-British descent, and hails from an illustrious family, as his father, Randal Keynes, is an author and the great-great-grandson of Charles Darwin, and Randal’s father is the renowned physiologist Richard Keynes. Skandar is also the cousin of Catholic writer Laura Keynes. Two of his brothers went on to become an historian and a neuroscientist.
The Keynes family as a whole has included several notable authors, actors and economists, amongst the latter John Maynard Keynes (who is Skandar’s great-great-uncle). The “Narnia” star’s great-grandfather was the Nobel Prize laureate Edgar Adrian, 1st Baron Adrian, who is respected in the electrophysiology field for providing experimental evidence for the all-or-none law of nerves.
Meanwhile, Skandar’s mother, Zelfa Hourani, is Lebanese, and the Hourani family is equally respectable; his maternal grandfather, Cecil Fadlo Hourani, was an advisor to the late Tunisian president Habib Bourguiba. Cecil’s brothers, George and Albert Hourani, were also philosophers and historians.
Skandar’s older sister, Soumaya, is an economist and journalist, who currently works for The Economist magazine. The Keynes siblings grew up in Islington, London, an affluent area of the city also known for its historic architecture and vibrant culture scene.
Skandar attended Thornhill Primary School and Anna Scher Theatre School, before furthering his studies at the City of London School, where he won chemistry and drama prizes as well as a City of London Corporate Scholarship. In spring 2010, he passed his A-levels, getting outstanding grades in mathematics, applied mathematics, biology, chemistry and history.
In October 2010, Skandar began studying Arabic, Persian and Middle Eastern History at Pembroke College, Cambridge University. In his first year, the actor won a scholarship and a prize in oriental studies, and in his second year, was elected a member of the Faculty Board of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.
During Skandar’s third year at Pembroke, he studied in Lebanon, writing about his experiences in the college’s weekly column, and perfecting his colloquial Arabic. For his dissertation, the actor compared the teachings of history in Saudi Arabia and Iran, translating textbooks from both countries. In June 2014, he graduated with a Double First Class Honors BA degree and was listed in Business Insider’s “16 Incredibly Impressive Students at Cambridge University”.
Skandar got his first taste of acting when nine years old, with a minor role in a 2001 production of “Macbeth” which was televised in Britain. Next, he played a Victorian waif in the TV documentary “Queen Victoria Died in 1901 and is Still Alive Today”. Two years later, the actor’s first notable film role came when he played a young Enzo Ferrari in the racing driver’s biopic, “Ferrari”.
skandar keynes first movie as enzo ferrari in 2003 pic.twitter.com/q9OtCKaPZ4
— erica.mae@palang (@EricaPalang) May 2, 2016
Skandar’s portrayal of Edmund Pevensie in Andrew Adamson’s 2005 “The Chronicles of Narnia – the Lion, the Witch and thew Wardrobe” propelled him into a household name. The movie was shot in New Zealand and Central Europe, and was critically acclaimed upon its release, plus raking in $745 million at the global box office.
Although the other main characters went through a grueling 18-month long casting process, Skandar was cast within weeks, and even performed his own stunts in the horse riding and sword fighting scenes. The actor also voiced Edmund in the film’s videogame, and won a CAMIE Award for his performance in 2006.
Two years later, Skandar reprised his role in the sequel, “Prince Caspian”. Shooting took seven months, and the actors toured Slovenia, Prague, New Zealand, Czech Republic and Poland, which they enjoyed greatly. This time, Skandar was nominated for Best Performance in a Feature Film in the Leading Young Actor category at the 30th Young Artist Awards.
In 2010, Skandar played Edmund for the last time in “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”, directed by Michael Apted and filmed in Australia. While preparing for the role, Skandar earned his Professional Association of Diving Instructors license for the underwater scenes.
Skandar briefly returned to the acting industry in 2014, voicing Sir Allan Kerr in the audio drama “In Freedom’s Cause”, based on the G.A. Henty novel, then in January 2016, he announced his retirement from acting.
From January to April 2015, Skandar undertook a three-month internship at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. While in Jordan, he helped research an important study based on the living conditions of Syrian refugees in the country – “Living in the Shadows: Jordan Home Visits Report 2014”, was published in January 2015 and has since been widely reported and cited.
Skandar then began working as a parliamentary adviser to the British Conservative MP Crispin Blunt. In November 2015, he and the Foreign Affairs Select Committee visited Beirut. Three months later, he attended the European Parliament forum in Brussels, and discussed conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa.
Skandar’s political work was only just beginning, as in February 2017 he met officials and ministers in Qatar, and discussed issues regarding regional crises and bilateral relations. Skandar would subsequently accompany Crispin Blunt on his diplomatic visits to Baghdad, Tunisia, Cairo and Kurdistan; since then, he’s been working tirelessly as a political advisor.
A well-rounded individual, Skandar is a skilled cornet, flute and guitar player, and who’s also run a 42km marathon in aid of Prostate Cancer, UK. He also enjoys taekwondo, extreme sports, cricket and soccer. During his time at Cambridge, he was a rugby varsity player.
The former actor also supports conservation projects. While shadowing the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Skandar travelled to the Jura Mountains in Switzerland, and gave an interview for the Wild Talk Radio Podcast. Other initiatives Skandar has promoted include the World Wide Fund for Nature’s online community – connect2earth – and the Galapagos Tortoise Project.
Due to the nature of Skandar’s current career, the “Narnia” star tries to keep his personal life out of the news as much as possible. As such, apart from a rumored former relationship with his co-star Rebecca Swinton, which allegedly took place between 2005 and 2006, his dating history remains shrouded in mystery.