Bronteana: Bronte Studies Blog Archives

March 22, 2006


Filed under: BBC,Interviews,Jane Eyre (BBC 2006),Media,Productions,TV,Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 11:29 pm

Toby Stephens prefers the Conflicted Man

Here are a few more tidbits for those desperate to hear more from our newest Rochester. From 'I'm much happier playing messed-up guys rather than the heroic lead. It's dull playing those parts'

With his striking good looks and an acting dynasty to die for – no less than Dame Maggie Smith and the late Robert Stephens for his parents – you'd think that Toby Stephens would be cornering the market in dashing, romantic leading roles.

Instead, his forte seems to be quite the opposite; crazed Bond villains (Die Another Day), tormented Cold War intellectuals (Kim Philby in Cambridge Spies) and, about to start filming, the enigmatic and mysterious Mr Rochester in a new BBC adaptation of Jane Eyre.

'I'm much happier playing messed-up guys rather than the heroic lead,' says 36-year-old Stephens. 'It's dull playing those parts. I'd rather play someone conflicted. They're always more challenging, and you've got more to work with.'


Right now Stephens' physical profile is extremely striking; he's darkened his hair and he's growing some pretty impressive sideburns in preparation to play one of English Lit's most troubled and misunderstood anti-heroes, Rochester, in Jane Eyre.

'The perfect messed-up guy – what more could I ask for?' he laughs

Yay! Sorry… I mean, splendid…



  1. Yay! also. The man himself was on the telly in the UK two night ago, playing someone who was certainly a little messed up – the only worry is that he might go a bit OTT with the angst and passion. There’s something about his demeanour that evokes trouble and danger anyway, IMHO, so he only really need exploit that.

    Comment by Liz — March 23, 2006 @ 4:44 am |Reply

  2. I have never seen his work- not even Tenant, so I’m still going on reports from various people and trying to keep an open mind- but it is difficult not to ask people what they think. Most people seem to be worried about an OTT performance, and the sneer of course. But it sounds like he has a thoughtful approach beginning so I am very optimisic.

    Somehow the description of Mr Rochester was ‘the perfect messed-up guy’ amuses me. 😉 It is up there with my other favourite description from an actor playing Mr R:

    “He’s delicious!” -James Barbour.

    My least favourite is:

    “He’s a very very very angry man.” -Ciaran Hinds.

    Comment by Brontëana — March 23, 2006 @ 11:17 am |Reply

  3. Oh, that’s: “he’s hurt and very, very angry, very, very angry”

    But this one is the one that really bothers me, also from Hinds:

    “I wondered why they were offering an Irishman a job to play a quintessential sort of arrogant, chauvinistic Englishman.”

    What isn’t wrong with this statement?

    Comment by Brontëana — March 23, 2006 @ 11:27 am |Reply

  4. Grr… much is wrong with that statement I can’t even begin!

    As for the new BBC mini-series…I admit, at first I was a bit shocked that Toby Stephens was playing my dearest Mr. Rochester. My immediate reaction was negative, simply because I didn’t think he *physically* resembled the character’s description. Nevertheless, ever since I saw Toby Stephens in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Hamlet in 2004, I have been completely in love with the man. Therefore…I was torn…torn between two sexy, but very different men. I simply had to reevalute my immediate reaction. Yes, Toby sneers a lot, but that is what makes him so…well, delicious! He is a very talented and entertaining actor, and after thinking about it, I am definitely willing to give him a chance. With a decent script, he should make a very memorable Mr. Rochester indeed.

    Hehee….at this point I almost don’t care. As long as they put the gypsy scene in, I (along with most rabid fans) will be quite happy! 😉

    Comment by The Moblèd Queen — April 2, 2006 @ 3:20 am |Reply

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