Toby Stephens is an actor from England who has worked in the UK and USA as well as India. In his nearly three-decade-long acting career, he has been equally active on all three mediums of performing arts. A London native, Stephens grew up in a family of actors. He received his education at Aldro School and Seaford College, where he found himself to be remarkably unhappy. Later, he attended the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA). In 1992, Stephens made his first on-screen appearance in the television miniseries ‘The Camomile Lawn’. That year, he also had his big screen debut in Sally Potter's ‘Orlando’. His breakthrough role came in 2002 when he was cast as a Bond villain in ‘Die Another Day’. Since then, he has worked in the Indian film ‘Mangal Pandey: The Rising’, ‘13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi’, and ‘The Journey’. Stephens has accumulated an extensive list of theatre credits and is one of the most prolific Shakespearean actors of his generation. In recent years, he has been prominently active on television, portraying roles like the infamous pirate James McGraw/Flint in Starz’s ‘Black Sails’ and John Robinson in the Netflix remake of ‘Lost in Space’.
Childhood & Early Life
Born on April 21, 1969, at the Middlesex Hospital in Fitzrovia, London, Toby Stephens is the youngest of two sons of Dame Maggie Smith and Sir Robert Stephens.
His mother is a triple-crown winning (Oscar, Tony, and Emmy) screen legend, who has portrayed a plethora of memorable screen and stage roles in a career spanning seven decades. His late father was also an accomplished actor. Stephens’ older brother Chris has been active in the industry as an actor under the professional name Chris Larkin.
Stephens was a student at Aldro School before attending Seaford College. He did not enjoy his time there. Eventually, he enrolled at LAMDA, where he received much of his training as an actor.
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In 1992, Toby Stephens had his screen debut in the miniseries ‘The Camomile Lawn’, portraying a character named Oliver. Later that year, he played Othello in the fantasy drama film ‘Orlando’.
He was cast in the titular role in the 1994 Royal Shakespeare Company production of ‘Coriolanus’ not long after he left LAMDA. In the same season, he essayed the role of Claudio in ‘Measure for Measure’ for the RSC.
In 1996, he portrayed Stanley Kowalski in a West End production of Tennessee Williams' ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’. The same year, he played Orsino in Trevor Nunn's cinematic adaptation of ‘Twelfth Night’.
He was featured on Broadway in ‘Ring Round the Moon’ in 1999. In 2004, he was cast as the title character in a production of ‘Hamlet’. He portrayed Terje Rød-Larsen in the 2017 West End revival of ‘Oslo’.
In 2004, he travelled to India to work in the period-drama film ‘Mangal Pandey: The Rising’. Also starring Aamir Khan, Rani Mukherjee, and Kirron Kher, the 2005 film was a critical and commercial success. Stephens came back to India a year later to film the TV movie ‘Sharpe’s Challenge’.
In 2005, he lent his voice to Demetrius in ‘Midsummer Dream’, a computer-animated cinematic adaptation of ‘A Midsummer Night's Dream’. He was cast as Dr. Farquar in the 2013 sports drama film ‘Believe’.
In 2016, he portrayed the slain CIA operative and former Navy Seal Glen "Bub" Doherty in Michael Bay’s ‘13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi’, a biographical war drama on the 2012 Benghazi Attack.
In the 2016 drama film ‘The Journey’, he essayed the role of the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. He shared screen space with Gerard Butler, Gary Oldman, and Common in the 2018 action thriller ‘Hunter Killer’.
Since the beginning of his career, Stephens has portrayed various minor as well as important roles on the small screen. In 2006, he played Edward Fairfax Rochester in the TV adaptation of Charlotte Brontë's 1847 novel ‘Jane Eyre’.
From 2014 to 2017, he was part of the main cast of Starz’s historical adventure TV series ‘Black Sails’ as the notorious pirate James McGraw/Flint.
In 2015, he wrote and directed his first and only directorial venture, the drama short ‘In Vitro’. The film’s story revolves around a couple whose relationship is suffering due to infertility and the effect of cold science substituting passion and a sense of mutual purpose.
Toby Stephens was 33 years old when the 20th entry in the James Bond film franchise, ‘Die Another Day,’ was released, making him the youngest actor ever to play a Bond villain. For his performance as Gustav Graves, he was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor.
In May 2008, he played James Bond in a BBC Radio 4 production of Ian Fleming's ‘Dr. No.’
In the 2018 Netflix remake of the 1965 science fiction series ‘Lost in Space’, Stephens plays the patriarch of the Robinson family, former Navy Seal John Robinson. The first season of the show was extremely well received, and it has been renewed for a second season.
Family & Personal Life
On September 15, 2001, Toby Stephens married New Zealand actress Anna-Louise Plowman. They have three children together: son Elijah Alistair (born May 2007) and daughters Tallulah Tara (May 2009) and Kura Stephens (September 2010).