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Toby Stephens

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: April 21, 1969 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: London, England, GB Profession: actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

It was perhaps only natural that this second son of Sir Robert Stephens and Dame Maggie Smith should follow in his parents' stead and pursue a career as an actor. Handsome, dark-haired Toby Stephens began to land key roles in stage and screen productions almost immediately after his 1991 graduation from LAMDA. He first made an impression with British TV audiences co-starring with Jennifer Ehle in "The Chamomile Lawn" in 1992, the same year he debuted on the big screen in "Orlando". Stephens went on to a distinguished stage career, joining the Royal Shakespeare Company and becoming the youngest actor with the troupe to undertake the lead in the Bard's "Coriolanus" (1994). Daring to step into the shadow of Marlon Brando, he tackled the role of Stanley Kowalski opposite Jessica Lange in the 1996 Peter Hall-staged London production of "A Streetcar Named Desire". His rising status as a leading man was cemented with his turn as Orsino in "Twelfth Night" (1996), Trevor Nunn's feature adaptation of Shakespeare's comedy, and as Gilbert Markham, the Yorkshire farmer who falls for a married woman, in the small screen version of Anne Bronte's novel "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall" (also 1996). Although his next...

It was perhaps only natural that this second son of Sir Robert Stephens and Dame Maggie Smith should follow in his parents' stead and pursue a career as an actor. Handsome, dark-haired Toby Stephens began to land key roles in stage and screen productions almost immediately after his 1991 graduation from LAMDA. He first made an impression with British TV audiences co-starring with Jennifer Ehle in "The Chamomile Lawn" in 1992, the same year he debuted on the big screen in "Orlando".

Stephens went on to a distinguished stage career, joining the Royal Shakespeare Company and becoming the youngest actor with the troupe to undertake the lead in the Bard's "Coriolanus" (1994). Daring to step into the shadow of Marlon Brando, he tackled the role of Stanley Kowalski opposite Jessica Lange in the 1996 Peter Hall-staged London production of "A Streetcar Named Desire". His rising status as a leading man was cemented with his turn as Orsino in "Twelfth Night" (1996), Trevor Nunn's feature adaptation of Shakespeare's comedy, and as Gilbert Markham, the Yorkshire farmer who falls for a married woman, in the small screen version of Anne Bronte's novel "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall" (also 1996). Although his next couple of films didn't fare too well at the box office, Stephens earned mostly good notices for his work, whether playing an early 20th-century photographer in "Photographing Fairies" (1997) or 19th-century men in "Cousin Bette" (1998) or "Onegin" (1999). After making his Broadway debut playing twins in the farcical "Ring Around the Moon" in 1999, the actor was tapped to portray the young incarnation of director-star Clint Eastwood's astronaut in "Space Cowboys" (2000). That same year, he tried to embody F. Scott Fitzgerald's elusive titular character in the A&E version of "The Great Gatsby", but while he cut the proper dashing figure, something was missing in his interpretation of the role. He fared better in his homeland playing a supporting role in the critically-acclaimed BBC2 presentation "Perfect Strangers" (2001) and a return to the stage alongside Dame Judi Dench in "The Royal Family". Director Neil LaBute tapped Stephens to play a self-serving academic in "Possession" (2002) before the actor landed a part that reach his wide audience yet-- the villainous Gustav Graves in "Die Another Day" (2002), the 20th James Bond film. Stephens held his own against Pierce Brosnan as 007, proving one of the more charismatic of the recent Bond bad guys and demonstrating a flair for physical combat in the action-packed fencing sequence with Brosnan.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Machine, The (2013)
2.
3.
 Best Man, The (2006)
4.
 Severance (2006)
5.
 Dark Corners (2006)
6.
 Possession (2002) Fergus Wolfe
7.
 Die Another Day (2002) Gustav Graves
8.
 Space Cowboys (2000) Young Frank D Corvin
9.
 Onegin (1999) Vladimir Lensky
10.
 Cousin Bette (1998) Victorin Hulot
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Raised in part in L.A. and Stratford, Ontario, Canada, as well as in Sussex
1991:
West End debut opposite Jennifer Ehle in "Tartuffe", directed by Peter Hall
1992:
Cast opposite Ehle in the British telefilm "The Chamomile Lawn", directed by Hall; project was filmed in 1991 before "Tartuffe"
1992:
Feature film debut, "Orlando"
1993:
Joined the Royal Shakespeare Company
1994:
Became the youngest actor to play Shakespeare's "Coriolanus" at the RSC
1996:
Cast to star opposite Jessica Lange in a London West End production of "A Streetcar Named Desire"
1996:
Had male lead in the British TV adaptation of "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall"
1996:
Starred as Orsino opposite Helena Bonham Carter and Imogen Stubbs in the Trevor Nunn-directed feature film version of "Twelfth Night"
1997:
Cast as a photographer asked to prove or disprove pictures taken by a young girl that allegedly showed sprites and other mystical beings in "Photographing Fairies"
1998:
Co-starred with Jessica Lange in the film "Cousin Bette"
1998:
Played opposite Diana Rigg in "Britannicus" and "Phedre", performed in repertory
1999:
Broadway debut as twins in "Ring Round the Moon"
1999:
Had featured role in "Onegin"
2000:
Portrayed Clint Eastwood's astronaut character as a young man in flashback sequences of "Space Cowboys"
2000:
Cast in the lead of the British stage play "Japes"
2000:
Starred in title role of the A&E adaptation of "The Great Gatsby"
2001:
Had featured role as the main character's cousin in the BBC2 production "Perfect Strangers"
2001:
Co-starred in the London staging of the play "The Royal Family"
2002:
Appeared in the feature film "Possession"
2002:
Cast as the lead villain in "Die Another Day", the 20th James Bond film
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art: - 1991

Notes

Like his father, Toby Stephens has struggled with alcohol abuse. He first stopped drinking in 1994, but resumed in 1997. By 2000, he had again stopped drinking. As he explained to London's The Sunday Times (January 28, 2001): "I found myself going down the same road as my father, drinking very heavily. I was scared. I knew what could happen, but that was part of the pleasure. There was a nihilism in it, where you say: I can drink my tits off and still be more brilliant than anyone. It's a romantic idea, it's [Richard] Burton and Oliver Reed, and, despite everything I knew, I was drawn to it."

"Acting in isolation isn't a good idea for me, because then you end up talking to yourself on stage as well. So I try to do all my work in rehearsals - what you say to people, what they say to you, how you react to them. I'm a big one for making an idiot of myself in rehearsals; I go to the nth degree with something. I completely embarrass myself and then slowly come back from that. Because unless you take those risks, which is exactly what rehearsal is for, you can miss out on so many choices." --Stephens quoted in InTheater, May 24, 1999.

While appearing on Broadway in 1999, Stephens would train twice a week by climbing walls at a gym. He explained to London's Daily Mail (March 25, 2000): "I read a biography of Mallory and was fascinated by the way they found his body on Everest, perfectly preserved because of the altitude. I want to write a screenplay about him, so I decided to learn about climbing so I had some idea of what I was writing about. I am fascinated by the psychology of people wanting to get to the top, especially in Mallory's day, when it was so dangerous.

"And I must admit the training is quite addictive. It's just you and a rock face and that appeals to me. You have to keep yourself going and it's a real challenge. In a way it is similar to acting, you have only yourself and your confidence to rely on."

"Stephens confirms his position as one of the most charismatic and technically accomplished young actors of our time." --critic John Peter in his review of Simon Gray's play "Japes" in London's The Sunday Times, February 18, 2001.

"Hollywood doesn't appeal to me; I've done that. I went and sat out there for three months and almost went mad. If that (a Hollywood film career) is seriously what you want, you have to devote your whole life to it. There are things I'd much rather do -- namely, theatre. For me, film is a means to an end; it supplements me being able to do more theatre. Sadly, people don't want to go into theatre nowadays. They think film is more glamorous and that's where the money is. But theatre is the bedrock of what I'm about." --Toby Stephens to Terri Paddock in "20 Questions With ... Toby Stephens", Whatsonstage.com, November 19, 2001.

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Jennifer Ehle. Actor. Reportedly had a relationship around the time of the the making of "The Chamomile Lawn" (1992).
companion:
Jennifer Ehle. Had seven; survived him.
companion:
Alison Fogg. Had four; survived her.
companion:
Alison Fogg. Became engaged in October 1996; separated c. 1999.
wife:
Anna-Louise Plowman. Seperated; survived him.
wife:
Anna-Louise Plowman. Actor. New Zealander married in 2001.
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Family close complete family listing

father:
Robert Stephens. Actor. Born on July 14, 1931; died on November 12, 1995.
father:
Robert Stephens. Has one.
mother:
Maggie Smith. Actor. Born on December 28, 1934.
mother:
Maggie Smith. Dentist.
step-father:
Beverly Cross. Had three; survived him.
step-father:
Beverly Cross. Playwright, screenwriter. Born in 1931; died of heart disease on March 20, 1998.
half-brother:
Michael Stephens. Older.
half-brother:
Michael Stephens. Guidance counselor.
half-sister:
Lucy Stephens. Older.
half-sister:
Lucy Stephens. Survived him.
brother:
Christopher Stephens. Actor. Born on June 19, 1967.
brother:
Christopher Stephens. Survived him.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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