Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Toby Stephens, actor – portrait of the artist (GUARDIAN) Interview by Laura Barnett The Guardian

Toby Stephens Toby Stephens. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian

Your parents [Maggie Smith and Robert Stephens] were both famous actors. Was following in their footsteps inevitable?

No, my parents didn't particularly encourage me initially. They knew how hard the profession is: just because they'd been successful didn't mean I would be. They weren't like, "I tell you what, why don't we all do a production together?" They said, "You're on your own." I'm really grateful: it made me get out there and hone my taste.

What was your big breakthrough?

Playing Coriolanus at the RSC. I was about 25, and the play had never been done there before with anybody of that age. It got rid of everybody's preconceptions about Coriolanus being a 50-year-old fascist dressed in leather who likes beating people up.

Do you suffer for your art?

No. First and foremost, it's a way of putting bread on the table.

Have you ever felt typecast?

Yes: until a few years ago, I was endlessly playing villainous, smug, posh guys on telly, because I'd played a Bond villain [in Die Another Day]. I've only managed to break out of it in the last three years – I changed my agent, and got a break in America with this pirate thing [new TV series Black Sails].

Stage or screen?
Whenever I'm doing stage I want to be doing screen, and vice versa. Screen is satisfying because it's so technical and mysterious. It's like playing roulette: you get a script, you think it's either great or naff, but you have no idea how it will really turn out. On stage, you are your own editor – and you get brief moments of grace, where suddenly you feel free.

What work of art would you most like to own?

William Blake's The Ghost of a Flea. It's both creepy and magical

READ MORE HERE: http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2013/jul/16/toby-stephens-actor-portrait

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