Bronteana: Bronte Studies Blog Archives

March 16, 2006


Filed under: BBC,Films,Jane Eyre,Jane Eyre (BBC 2006),Media,Productions,Reviews,TV — by bronteana @ 5:16 pm

Confirmation on Jane Eyre 2006

From Frankengirl, a brief interview with Toby Stephens:

As the son of two of this country's finest actors, Toby Stephens would understandably prefer to be recognised in his own right. I'd be happy to oblige, but as we queue for the lift at ITV's South Bank studios, I fail to connect the scruffy figure in the wonderfully actorish ensemble of knee-length red corduroy coat, scarf, narrow jeans and trainers with Gustav Graves, the epee-wielding, electronic-armour-wearing master villain in the most recent James Bond film.'I'm deeply envious of my mother's talent because it's not something I possess'
But then I get a good look at his face. Those finely cut features are framed by long red sideburns – serious, costume-drama sideburns.
Touché! Stephens, son of Dame Maggie Smith and the late Sir Robert Stephens, has indulged his facial hair to play Rochester in a forthcoming BBC adaptation of Jane Eyre.

Well, I hope by 'indulge' they don't mean mouchachioes- villainous or otherwise!

While he admits that his upper-class image works both ways – helping with roles like Mr Rochester – the class thing rankles. Particularly, he says, when he sees actors who went to far smarter schools than Seaford pretend they're working-class.

It is a fact universally acknowledged that this is causing some concern in the circle of Jane Eyre enthusiasts:

Unfortunately for him, he possesses one of the best sneers in the business. Even when he's smiling, it looks like a sneer. "It's something that happens with my face," he says, insisting that he often doesn't realise he's doing it.



  1. Ah, the real credit is due Mrs. Dionysius O’Gall! – 🙂

    A sneering Mr. Rochester? I can’t remember any significant “sneering” in Tenant, but perhaps his face has fallen into a sneer with age? … alas, I hope Jane doesn’t have to suffer too many sneers!!!

    Comment by frankengirl — March 16, 2006 @ 7:02 pm |Reply

  2. I only just went to the forum now! I’ve been marking exams at the university all day.

    I think the ladies at LERO had a photo of the sneer posted back when the casting was announced. Sneering? …Well, we’ll just have to wait and see!

    I haven’t seen you around much lately! How are things going?

    Comment by Brontëana — March 16, 2006 @ 7:48 pm |Reply

  3. Hi, Brontëana!

    I’ve clearly been remiss lately on my Rochester-Devotion – Long Love Neddy! – 🙂 MysticGypsy has been stirring up a great deal of Bertha-intrigue recently, which has been very interesting indeed!

    I hope your studies are going well!!! And thanks for the tip on the pic – I’ll have to check out this famous sneer of his, hehe!

    Comment by frankengirl — March 16, 2006 @ 8:06 pm |Reply

  4. remiss on Rochester-Devotion, eh Frankengirl? *gasp*
    😛 aww dear Neddy!!

    Ah yes, Bertha is intriguing to say the least. By the way, I am eager to hear opinions the theme of Bertha and Imperialism (and Charlotte Bronte).
    (I am not sure if it is ok to ask here in this post..but any comments of any form are welcome!)

    Comment by mysticgypsy — March 16, 2006 @ 9:59 pm |Reply

  5. Oh, I would be interested to hear more about this Bertha-Intrigue, is it posted anywhere? I don’t know much about Bertha and Imperialism, except that Jean Rhys has been accused of the same Western centricism (that’s not the word I mean) that Bronte has. I have been more struck recently how Bertha is described as being corpulent and bloated – perhaps the Other is really all about being overweight!

    Am a little concerned by the long red sideburns. But possibly he will dye them a nice glossy black before shooting starts. Have the ladies at LERO (what is LERO?) discussed Toby Stephen’s height yet? I am a worried he is a little too titchy. He is a little taller than Imogen Stubbs in 12th Night who is reportedly 5 ft 5, and tiny Ruth Wilson is apparently 5 ft 6… I hope I am not obsessing too much over this!

    Comment by Liz — March 17, 2006 @ 4:59 am |Reply

  6. Can I stress that I am not a lady at LERO. Even though I looked damniably attractive in a hoop skirt.

    Comment by Aidan Brack — March 17, 2006 @ 5:52 am |Reply

  7. oh no 😦
    Is Toby Stephen really not that much taller than Ruth? I’d have been nice if he was 6 feet at least…

    that’s sad. I always pictured a tall (but not too tall) Rochester.

    Liz, Frankengirl and I were discussing Bertha in her blog. I was particularly interested in Imperialism and the Brontes because I m eager to find saving grace in Charlotte (or the other Brontes) when it comes to this. We were reading The Professor for a class and Charlotte was shot down by almost everyone in my class for being racist.

    Bronteana, Frankengirl, Liz, anyone else have a different interpretation for Charlotte’s handling of foreigners? I am trying to work out her sympathy towards Bertha, but I am at a loss to explain Crimsworth’s disdain for the Flamands :…and it doesn’t seem like Charlotte disapproved of his opinions in this case.

    Comment by mysticgypsy — March 17, 2006 @ 9:55 am |Reply

  8. I think Lucy’s (and Crimsworth’s as well, maybe, although I’ve not read The Professor in a while) reaction to foreigners in a foreign land is part of a rather prejudicial stage everyone goes through when they decamp abroad; a sudden outburst of national identity before you can fully adapt to a new culture. Her anti-Catholicism, of course, is another issue. 😉 As for Bertha, she is clearly portrayed as the Exotic Other, but it would be facile to call that racist, surely? She is a lot more interesting than that. And when you compare that to the anti-Semiticism in Oliver Twist, and the racism in Vanity Fair, the book is positively overflowing with political correctness! The Victorians, with a few exceptions (George Eliot for example) were at times so casually anti-Semitic that I am probably reading too much into the fact that the only reference to a Jew AFAIK in C Bronte is positive (from Villette) : “I then made a little roll of my letters, wrapped them in oiled silk, bound them with twine, and, having put them in the bottle, got the old Jew broker to stopper, seal and make it air-tight. While obeying my directions, he glanced at me now and then suspiciously from his frost-white eyelashes. I believe he thought there was some evil deed on hand.”

    Comment by Liz — March 17, 2006 @ 12:19 pm |Reply

  9. to Frankengirl:

    My studies are going well. The poetry book came out last semester (ISBN: 0-88753-416-3). I’ve been accepted to a Master’s program where I think there’s plenty of room for me to work on my Jane Eyre adaptations project (yay!). And last week the Medieval literature prof asked to use part of one of my papers in her upcoming book on The Romance of the Rose. Very exciting 🙂 And I went to my first conference, which was a lot of fun. And I got some presents worth about $5 😀

    Comment by Brontëana — March 17, 2006 @ 3:24 pm |Reply

  10. To Mysticgypsy:

    I haven’t done much on Bertha and imperialism. During the Bronte seminar someone gave a paper on Jane and imperialism, arguing that she is ‘colonised’ by Mr Rochester in a metaphorical sense. The presentor did admit, however, that in fact the text shows quite the opposite- that Jane becomes freed from her previous restraints as she comes to know Mr Rochester. I suggested that St.John would be the focus of any ‘colonisation’ in that respect (not to mention the literal colonising mission). He wants to reshape her identity, to destroy her in order to create what he thinks is her more perfect self- one that is completely subservient.

    Comment by Brontëana — March 17, 2006 @ 3:27 pm |Reply

  11. To Liz:

    LERO stands for League of the Extraordinarily Rochester Obsessed. Thisbeciel, our friend Alisa, and I are the founding members. What else are you when you have more versions of jane Eyre than the Bronte society? 🙂 Height did come up but I think everyone was certain that the portrayal is the important point.

    Comment by Brontëana — March 17, 2006 @ 3:37 pm |Reply

  12. to Aidanbrack:

    You always comport yourself as a true lady, Aidan, just one of the qualities I admire in you 🙂

    Comment by Brontëana — March 17, 2006 @ 3:38 pm |Reply

  13. Can I join LERO? 🙂 or is it by invite only?

    Comment by mysticgypsy — March 17, 2006 @ 5:01 pm |Reply

  14. To be an official member of LERO you have to have a livejournal account, and then be approved by Thisbeciel, Alisa, or myself 😉 Only members can see most of the posts there.

    Comment by Brontëana — March 17, 2006 @ 5:29 pm |Reply

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