Monday, April 23, 2007

Male on Monday - Toby Stephens

This week Natasha Oakley introduces her candidate for Male on Monday ... and it's not William Shakespeare!

Okay, so this is a bit painful. Today is the 23rd April which means, by all that's fair and just, I should be outdoing Trish's St Patrick's Day blog with my own on England's answer - St George's Day.

But ... it's Male on Monday which has me scuppered.

I did wonder whether I'd get away with initiating William Shakespeare into the PHS hall of fame. After all, today is the anniversary of both his birth and death. Only ... from a visual point of view I don't find him particularly inspiring.

Finally, the solution hit me. I've decided my Male on Monday needs to be English and a fine Shakepearean actor. I give you .... Toby Stephens.

Toby was born on April 21st, 1969 in Middlesex, England, the son of the late Robert Stephens and Dame Maggie Smith. His parents divorced when he was four and with his brother (actor Chris Larkin) spent his childhood travelling where his mother's career took her.

Of his parents he's quoted as saying, 'I'm not ashamed of it but when people talk about your "breeding" you could end up feeling like a racehorse'.

Anyone reading this with children will know his mum as Professor McGonagall in the Harry Potter movies. His father was a great Shakespearean actor who sabotaged his career with excessive drinking and died of cirrhosis after a failed liver transplant.

Toby says, 'I gave up drinking while my father was dying, to try to get him to stop. When he died I took it up again. I was my father's son in that respect; I could drink and drink and drink and not be sick. My body had no warning signs. But as soon as I gave it up and turned it off and gave it up, I had a life - the joy of reading a book before going to bed.'

Shortly after he graduated from LAMDA Toby caused a stir playing the title role in the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Coriolanus. The Times said 'Toby Stephens gives a riveting performance. We all knew we were witnessing a phenomenon, the arrival of a splendidly dangerous new actor'. Aged just 25 he won a Sir John Gielgud Best Actor Award and an Ian Charleson Award. I've even managed to find a clip for you. Just click here.

And since this is Shakespeare's birthday you can also catch a glimpse of Toby playing Lysander in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' by clicking here.

I'm also sure if you play about on you'll be able to find his Claudio from 'Measure for Measure', Bertram from 'Alls Well That Ends Well' and Hamlet.

His first TV role was as Oliver in the controversial adaptation of Mary Wesley's 'The Camomile Lawn' - also starring Tara Fitzgerald and Jennifer Ehle. (Jennifer, remember, played Elizabeth Bennet to Colin Firth's Darcy. Incidentally, she's one really lucky girl! Reportedly she dated both Colin AND Toby. Just not fair, is it???)

In 1996 he reunited with Tara to play Gilbert Markham in the TV adaptation of Anne Bronte's novel 'The Tenant of Wildfell Hall'. I really fell in love with him then.

That same year he played the Duke of Orsino in Trevor Nunn's film portrayal of 'Twelfth Night'. I honestly don't know why Olivia preferred Sebastian ...

Worldwide he's probably best known for his portrayal of Gustav Graves in the 2002 Bond movie 'Die Another Day' but fans of Sharpe will remember him as William Dodd in 'Sharpe's Challenge'.

And what about his recent portrayal of Edward Fairfax Rochester in the BBC television adaptation of 'Jane Eyre'? Incredibly sexy I thought!

I wasn't alone either. The BBC boards started humming after the first installment and fan sites have appeared on the web.

If you need to be reminded of why click here.

He seems to have a remarkably steady private life. In 2001 he married New Zealand actress Anna-Louise Plowman and the couple are expecting their first child any day now!

As for fun facts - I can tell you he's 5ft 11", has an ambition to play Macbeth before he's 40, doesn't smoke, plays the guitar and loves to eat curry.

All seems fine to me!

With love


Natasha's latest release, 'Crowned: An Ordinary Girl', is available online at eharlequin now. Read an excerpt here.

And pop over and join all the shortlisted finalists for the Romantic Novelists' Association Romance Prize as they blog about their prepartions for the Awards luncheon at the Savoy in London. You'll find Natasha and her fellow nominees here.


  1. Oooh I loved him as a Bond bad guy. Very dastardly.

    I'll have to remember this name.


  2. He was very good in the film of Twelfth Night. The American trailer seems a little odd to me (it makes comparisons with 'Tootsie' and 'Priscilla Queen of the Desert') but it does give the highlights.

  3. Good choice! Toby is delicious. You can join hundreds of other fans who delight in discussing him at the Toby Stephens Forum and see more pictures, news, & links at Oh, and my favourite YouTube video: You Turn Me On. Love that strut.

  4. ~*~swoon~*~ Oh I absolutely love Toby. I especially loved him in Twelfth Night and Photographing Fairies.

  5. I wonder if his wife has had her baby yet?

    Snowsim, you are responsible for a very lovely start to my day! That youtube video is fun!!

  6. Toby is numero uno in the acting stakes as far as I'm concerned - as well as being DROP DEAD GORGEOUS!

    Thanks for this great blog entry!