FEBRUARY 2014 : TOBY NEWS
February was very much ‘Black Sails’ month for Toby.
Finally after all the brouhaha, ‘Black Sails’ finally aired on Starz on 25 January. The main plot focused on the hunt for the Spanish ship and its riches, and the machinations, alliances and various acts of violence that the search involves. It all unfolds against the broader background of a dying era. What Captain Flint already sees, even if others do not, is that the British government is preparing to wipe out the Caribbean and mid-Atlantic pirate trade. He knows that the only people to escape the noose will be the few who are rich enough to buy a respectable life or some other form of protection.
The San Franciso Chronicle reported that “Stephens, always one of Britain’s most reliable and capable actors, brings seamless credibility to the role of Flint” and gave the show 3/5.
Others commented, “Toby Stephens, playing it ferocious” and “Toby Stephens, who plays Captain Flint, brings a gruff, sullen man to life. There is so much more to the man’s motivations than we know and it goes much deeper than a quest for treasure. He has many secrets, including the lovely Miranda Barlow, a woman many believe is a witch.” Whilst elsewhere his performance was described as “riveting”
A blogger wrote, “Stephens is a mix of Michael Fassbender and Damian Lewis (it’s a deadly combination)”, and John Doyle for the Globe & Mail, wrote, “Toby Stephens is excellent as the main pirate leader, Captain Flint, a man much feared, but a visionary.“
Toby on ‘Black Sails’:
“There are so many cliches and tropes attached to the whole piracy thing. Black Sails gives you a real sense of what the time and the period were actually like. All of these characters are living on the edge, in situations that are extreme, and they’re just struggling to survive. Captain Flint is a scary guy.”
Source: Krista Smith, Vogue
“There’s been a lot of mythologising pirates over the years. ‘Black Sails’ is gnarly, bringing things back nearer to the truth.”
“That’s all public relations. Captains have to create terrifying personas or they’re fresh meat.”
“Pulverising someone’s head isn’t exactly something I enjoy. But now as a n actor I don’t have to go around for the rest of the series posturing as some kind of strong macho man. My work there has already been done.”
Source: TV Guide
“It’s about survival, and if you were a pirate captain, you had to be feared. They had to develop their own PR. You had to be this scary figure because otherwise you would be gobbled up by your crew or the next merchant ship that attacked. There is that underneath. And I think he’s got this anger, and that is driving him as well.”
“I really knew very little, and I knew there was a golden age of piracy in terms of the Caribbean and Bermuda and the Bahamas. That only lasted a very short period of time, and it was initially encouraged by Britain because it interrupted French and Spanish trade. It was in our interest. I didn’t really low the details. I didn’t know beyond that. What I knew was what I had seen in movies or read in books about the mythology, rather like Arthurian mythology, which developed in the 1800s.”
“You know you are going to go into battle as you are catching up with that ship. They know they are going to have to attack the ship and that sense of danger. I had ever seen that before. It was always people swinging on ropes and romanticised, so I didn’t know anything about the nitty gritty about piracy.”
Source: Wilson County News
“Any day of the week, I would prefer to be doing the show that I’m doing right now. I appreciate ‘Downton Abbey’ for what it is, but I have to say I don’t regularly tune in. It’s not really the kind of show that I enjoy. I appreciate what my mum does in it, she’s great in it, but it’s just not really what I enjoy watching. Playing this kind of thing, for me, is like going on an exotic vacation because we just don’t do this kind of stuff in the UK. We do a lot of the kind of stuff like ‘Downton Abbey’, a lot of period drama, a lot of detective stuff. You know, or me, that’s kind of like, ‘Yeah, I’ve seen that. I’ve done it. I don’t want to do it for the rest of my life.’ This is something that I kind of go, ‘It’s a fantastic character, phenomenal production values, and a fantastic story. And that’s what I want to be involved in.’”
“We put on our pirate clothes, but those are the clothes that we wear. They’re not fancy. They’re not clean. They’re dirty. They smell, we smell, you know? It was very important to us not to kind of pose as these people, we wanted to make them seem like real people. They’re pirates, but you don’t want to have that separation of, like, ‘Oh, they’re from some distant time, and they’re from some mythological world.’ They’re real people in real situations that you can identify with… It wasn’t like some fetish thing where I want to be wearing pirate outfits like Johnny Depp or something. It was, we’re trying to get to a place where you believe these people.”
Source: Dish Magazine
"It’s not a romanticised version. Piracy wasn’t some adventure these buccaneers went on. It was a means to survive. ‘Sails’ isn’t these campily dressed guys who went around with parrots and peg legs. This is telling stories about real human beings in this desperate kind of world."
"There’s a sense of Britain over the horizon coming to stomp them at any time. There’s a sense of urgency, especially for Flint and Eleanor, to try and defend themselves."
"These pirate captains had to a certain extent be politicians. They had to be their own PR people and they had to placate all the constituencies on their ship.”
"He’s a complex, dark person. We’re not trying to paint goodies and baddies. His motives are good, but the way he goes about it is wrong.”
Source: US Today
“Well, I think initially ‘Treasure Island’ was read to me as a child. That was really my starting point to this kind of story. I suppose the Naval battles, like Nelson, that’s part of our culture. It’s part of our history. So you grow up knowing about Battle of Trafalgar. I guess I knew about piracy, but it was really a mythologized version of piracy. I didn’t really understand the history of it or the reality of it, which is something that this really brings to the genre.”
"I did know that from Elizabeth I to Walter Raleigh the buccaneering kind of thing was tacitly, like, ‘Go ahead. Interfere with Spanish French trade. They’re our enemy. We’ll turn a blind eye to it.’ In fact, they encouraged it. And if it interrupted Spanish interests in South America or the West Indies, then that was good. I did vaguely know about that from history, but I didn’t really know about the details of the golden age of piracy, which ‘Black Sails’ deals with.”
“I think what was important to me — and I think, everyone when we were doing this — was that when we put on our pirate clothes, those are the clothes that we wear. They’re not fancy. They’re not clean. They’re dirty. They smell. We smell. It’s like it’s a real world. Also, it was very important to us not to pose as these people. We wanted to make them seem like real people, like they’re pirates, but one can identify with them as real people. That was really important, because if you’re going to go on a journey with these characters, you don’t want to have that separation of, like, ‘Oh, they’re from some distant time, and they’re from some mythological world’. They’re real people in real situations that you can identify with. So for me, that was important. Initially when you start watching it, it takes a while to tune into that world and go, ‘Oh,’ but then once you have, hopefully, you can identify with these people and go, ‘Oh, they’re real people. And they just happen to be in a different century, wearing these clothes.’ So that was what was important. It wasn’t like some fetish thing where I want to be wearing pirate outfits like Johnny Depp or something. We’re trying to get to a place where you believe these people. I think that was the important thing.”
“Mark [Ryan] and I had a lot of fun, actually. It was nice because we’re a kind of double act in the first series, and he’s my sort of secondhand guy. Because of the subject matter, a lot of the time it’s quite serious stuff — and especially Flint, who’s a very enigmatic, kind of serious guy — so it was great, in between takes, to have a laugh with him. I like to work that way. I like having fun on set, because it helps me focus when I need to do it. But you need to have that outlet; otherwise, it’s just relentlessly kind of serious. So it was serious when it needed to be and fun when it could be.”
“I can tell you now, any day of the week, I would prefer to be doing the show that I’m doing right now. I appreciate ‘Downton Abbey’ for what it is. I have to say I don’t regularly tune in. It’s not really the kind of show that I enjoy. I appreciate what my mum does in it. She’s great in it, but it’s just not really what I enjoy watching.”
“Playing this kind of thing, for me, is like going on an exotic vacation, because we just don’t do this kind of stuff in the UK. We do a lot of the kind of stuff like ‘Downton Abbey’ — a lot of period drama, a lot of detective stuff. For me, that’s kind of like, ‘Yeah, I’ve seen that. I’ve done it. I don’t want to do it for the rest of my life.’ This is something that I kind of go, ‘It’s a fantastic character, phenomenal production values, and a fantastic story. And that’s what I want to be involved in’”.
Source: TV Trivia
“He’s not like any pirate I’d ever seen. He’s not Errol Flynn. He’s not Johnny Depp. We’re telling a different story!”
Source: Associated Press
“It was really arduous because it was incredibly hot and the ship that we were shooting on, there was no wind when we were shooting. Also it was just absorbing the heat of the deck and you were stuck in this kind of pen. It was a really tough few days. But in the end I really enjoyed doing it because that’s part of what I do. I love that physicality of it and for me it was the point where, because we’d already shot episode three and episode four, we then went back to one to film that. So it was me really getting to grips with the character of Flint because the physical side of it is so important with Flint.”
“It’s like why are people fighting with this guy? Why is he the top captain? That fight really stamps why he is feared and why he is what he is. So it was a big part of the jigsaw of the character for me to do that fight. Once you’ve done that fight, you don’t have to work quite so hard at posturing about being scary or anything like that because that’s done all your work for you and the audience. They know after seeing that, okay, you don’t mess with this guy. There is something slightly unhinged about him. Although he seems very urbane at times, there is this side to him that is very frightening.”
“I worked with Bob Anderson on ‘Die Another Day’ who was an amazing fight choreographer with swords. I think he was in his 80s at the time and he was just phenomenal. He’d done all the big sword movies, so that was very detailed, it was very thought out. Not that this one wasn’t, but we had a long time to prep it. It was months of working it out. What we were doing in this, we worked out the fight for a long time. I worked on it, I was choreographing it a lot but we wanted something that was very visceral and very real.”
“So it wasn’t really the same as the Bond film. The Bond film was very stylistic. You know it’s a movie. You know it’s got a place in it, but you know Bond is going to survive. In this, you have a real feeling like you don’t know who’s going to survive. In fact, Flint looks like he’s going to die and we wanted to make the violence very real. There’s no glorification of it. It’s brutal, it’s nasty, it’s totally any means to get your end, any means to survive.”
“That’s what I hope you think because also, I think for the first episode, you’re like, ‘Who is this guy?’ He’s on the back foot for the whole thing, so you’re really not quite sure what he is. Only at the end do you go, ‘Right, okay, I see who this guy is.’ That’s good.”
“Himself probably. I mean, I think it’s really interesting because one of the great things I think about this series is if you think you’re watching a pirate show, it’s going to totally flip you because what it does is, it is a pirate show but these people are real people. They’re real human beings and they’ve got very complex lives, complex motives and Flint is really a very complex, very dark personality. His reasons and motives of why he is the way he is and why he’s doing what he’s doing are revealed very gradually throughout the series.”
“I’m now into filming the second series and we’ve now gone back into his past. You’re revealing who he is gradually and through these flashbacks. It’s great fun for me as an actor, but I think it’s really good fun for an audience as well. I think up until now, pirate shows, pirate movies, the pirates in them have been a sort of generalised wash of people. They all sort of speak the same, they all kind of look the same, they all have the same motives which is basically to get treasure and kill people. This is suddenly a very complex story which gives you a historical context to these people, and real reason, an economic reason for what they’re doing.”
“Also the mechanism by which if you raid a merchant ship, you get the treasure. Well, how do you make money out of that? You’ve got to then fence it. It’s got to then be sold on as legitimate trade to get the money for it. So the mechanism of how that worked, how piracy worked is revealed. It hopefully gives the sense of these are real people in a real world.”
“There’s a lot of politics on “Black Sails” that might be more than people expect if they’re just thinking of pirates and action and sword fights. Yeah, yeah, but also I think that’s what makes it fun. It gives it a feel of it’s dealing with things that we’re dealing with now. I think to do a pirate show, just for it to be some fantasy doesn’t really inform us about anything, why are you doing that? Whereas this is taking things that we’re still wrestling with now and puts them in this context. For example, on the ship, on my ship, I’m like the boss. I’m the CEO of this company and they are all my workers and they all have their own constituencies and they’ve all got their beefs. They’re all disgruntled about various things and they’re all complaining. In many ways, it’s like an office context and people can identify with that, so these people seem very present. They may be wearing these costumes, they may be sailing ships but at the same time you can identify with them.”
“I think the ultimate treasure for him, that’s a really interesting question because it’s also something that as we go on is revealed. I think the ultimate treasure for him is to be loved. Like all of us, we all want to be loved, and I think he wants to be loved. He wants his men to respect him, to love him, to see him as this deliverer, but unfortunately just his character makes that impossible. So he’s constantly alienating, even though he’s doing the right thing for them. He can’t help but alienate because of who he is.”
“Yeah, one of the things about Flint, what makes Flint is he’s a pragmatist and he’s incredibly clinical in the way that he analyses situations and the way that he plans things. He’s a planner and a plotter. He’s political and he can see five steps ahead. That’s what makes him better at these things. It’s an instinctive thing. It’s not something that he’s cultivated. It’s just innate within him, but it’s also his flaw because in the end, it’s quite a peculiar thing to be able to do.”
“It’s like a chess player. Somebody who’s brilliant at chess is normally quite a strange personality. That is what he has, but it makes him lack certain human qualities that would make him a more benign ruler. To get to his ends, he will do whatever it takes because he sees that the end is greater than the means. At the same time, that’s what makes him ruthless and brutal, but his motives are good. There’s that sort of duality to him.”
“Both of them, the boats that they’ve created are just so awesome and visually amazing. What’s weird is that you’ve got a green screen behind you and you’re pretending to be in the middle of the sea. When you see it completed and rendered, you would never know. That was what was amazing for me when I watched it for the first time, because while I was doing it, I was having to make that leap of imagination in my head. I’m in the middle of a raging sea trying to sail this vessel, and then you’re actually 500 meters from a motorway on the backlot of a studio with a green screen, wind machines and water machines spraying you. Because the CGI now is so sophisticated, you can do this kind of show for the budget that we’ve got in the conditions that we’ve got and an audience will never know.”
”There’s the enigmatic Mrs. Barlow and we’re not quite sure what their story is together but they live together in the interior of the island.”
Source: crave online
“Most of the show takes place in the island of Nassau which was a real island within the Bahamas, and acted as a hub for pirates where they would fence their stolen goods. I play the most successful of the pirates, and the most terrifying, who is slowly losing a grip on his subordinates. The show will watch my character attempt to survive in this landscape where the currency is fear.”
"He’s not like any pirate I’d ever seen. He’s not Errol Flynn. He’s not Johnny Depp. We’re telling a different story!"
"Deadwood meets The Wire. It’s not just the blood and boobs it’s billed as. It’s more about the mechanism of piracy rather than the fantasy of it.Whatever we’ve seen before has been a mythologised version and what was really good was we got halfway through filming season one and it got such a great reaction at Comic-Con it got recommissioned. Which is just as well as they’ve built three full-sized ships, a water tank and a shanty town on the coast of Cape Town."
"A brilliant man who amassed a huge amount of treasure, but when we meet him he is on the ropes financially and his crew are very disgruntled. He has the capacity for incredible violence and anger, but if you were a pirate you had to be feared otherwise it wouldn’t work."
"It was tough, there’s no dodging it. But at the same time it was such a unique job and a great opportunity. There is a point where FaceTime becomes not enough and there are only so many conversations you can have with your kids pulling faces at themselves.”
"We had no budget, we were working horrendous days and I was in every scene. I said, ‘There’s no way I’m going to have time to put myself on tape for this. I’m not interested in a pirate show.’ My agent was saying, ‘No, it’s not a normal pirate show, it’s brilliant.’ Anyway, she wore me down and then it was agony, the agony actors have when they fall in love with a character and you think, ‘S—-, this is cool, I’m probably not going to get this,’ and this was one of the few times I actually did.
Source: The Times
“Yeah. It removes some of the neurosis that normally kind of attaches itself to being an actor on a TV show. You can relax and you can just get on with what you’re doing rather than going, ‘Ooh! Am I gonna survive?’
“I actually saw most of the episodes… before I saw the credits. … I loved the show anyway as I was watching it, just as an audience member. I was like going, ‘This is a great show.’ And then I saw the credits and I just went, ‘That is just so cool!’ It’s so understated, but yet totally encapsulates the themes of the series.”
“Captain Flint is a very enigmatic character. He’s the captain of a pirate ship in New Providence Island where there’s a whole bunch of pirates. … Historically, he’s been the prime earner out of all of the pirates. But, at the beginning of the series, when we see him — he’s slightly on the ropes. He’s going after this big prize, which none of his crew know about, which is this treasure galleon — a massive, Spanish treasure galleon, which is heading back from South America to Spain and he knows that it’s coming and he’s trying to track it down… what coordinates it’s going to be at at a certain moment, so it’s like a kind of jigsaw puzzle that he’s figuring out. But, this is unbeknownst to his crew, so they’re going, ‘Why aren’t we going after bigger prizes? Why aren’t we earning more money?’ and they’re getting very discontent. Now in those days, on pirate vessels, you voted your captain on and off. These guys all worked on naval ships, merchant ships, they’d all been treated really badly, and when they got a bit of freedom, they were like, ‘Well, we wanna run our own show here.’ So, they voted their captain on and off and they’re about to vote me off, so I’m fighting for survival.”
"Any lengths. He’s a complex character. I mean, what’s so great about TV nowadays is you can tell these incredibly complex stories. It doesn’t have the sort of simplicity of film where you’ve got your good guy, you’ve got your bad guy, you’ve got your romantic interest. This is something where you can deal in human complexity. You can go, ‘He’s good, but he’s also bad and he’s got these character flaws and they’ve all got their motives that change all the time.’ And these characters challenge an audience — especially Flint. I think they want to like him, but then he does terrible things and they’re like going, ‘I don’t know whether I can like you anymore, but why are you doing these things? I want to know.’ And that’s good storytelling, I think.”
“I remember when I got the part, he’d already been cast, and I remember going, ‘It’s this guy Tom Hopper. I’m gonna look him up,’ so I IMDB-d him and these photos of this kind of brute came up. I was like, ‘Oh my God! I’m supposed to be the frightening guy on this show, so what am I gonna have to do to make myself more frightening than this?’ I mean, he’s huge! But, he plays Billy Bones. … All of these characters, by the way — like Flint, Silver and Billy Bones — are all in ‘Treasure Island,’ and in ‘Treasure Island,’ Billy Bones, at the beginning, is this embittered alcoholic wash-up of a pirate, so he’s kind of this tragic figure. But yet, in our series, he starts off as this wide-eyed innocent, kind of wanting to do the right thing.”
“’Treasure Island’ had been read to me as a child. I’d seen countless films of it and also Captain Hook was a big figure in my life — like Peter Pan and Captain Hook and all of that stuff. But… it’s strange — when you get to what we’re doing, it seems very remote from that. So I’d had a sort of romanticised version of it, fantasised version of it. This is much more kind of like pragmatic, how it actually worked, but without being boring. At the same time, it’s an adventure story. It’s epic.”
Source: Access Hollywood
February finally saw the cinema release of ‘The Machine’, an Indie movie from writer/director Caradog James, where Toby plays a scientist who creates a humanoid robot.
Toby on ‘The Machine’:
“I just loved the ideas that the film was dealing with. They’re ideas about the future we’re heading for where we create consciousness in machines. What that would mean for those machines once they have consciousness? How will they treat us? What does it mean for us as a species if those machines are better than we are? All of these questions are dealt with in the movie.”
“Vincent becomes the audience. He is humanity warts and all, not a good guy, not a bad buy. He’s kind of trying to do the right thing, to save his daughter, and I can empathise with that. But the way he’s doing it is not great. He’s morally compromised, but in the end he’s a human being. I loved the resonances with Frankenstein. He is kind of like the Frankenstein of the piece.”
“It’s taken me about 10 years to get back to a point where I can do other films. I remember when ‘Blade Runner’ came out just being to ally overwhelmed by it. This is an interesting story because we’re forging into a future where these things will be around. it’s quite disturbing.
I really liked the echoes of ‘Frankenstein’ and ‘Metropolis’ and Vincent as a character. When he creates this thing, it’s so confusing for him. Initially, it’s treating him like a child would a father, but it’s also Eva, who he liked. So there are all these thing going on for him.”
“The ones I grew up with were 2001, ‘Blade Runner’ and ‘Alien’. What I love about ‘Alien’ is that a lot was left up to your imagination. When you’re working with a limited budget you can’t just throw money at things, and as a consequence I think it’s a much better film.”
“After Bond I was offered villains. I felt that would be career suicide, to play the same thing over and over again. They create such a huge impact those movies, and once you’ve played that, that’s what you are in people’s heads. So I went away and Ive been doing a lot of other things.”
Source: Total Film
“I played sports but never excelled. I was an OK student but never a great one. The only area where I felt I had a real talent was in drama.”
Source : Krista Smith, Vogue
"And sometimes you get a script and you think, ‘Oh, that’s a good script’, and it comes out rubbish. The other thing which I’ve also experienced is you have three children and a mortgage and you go ‘I’ve got to work’ and you do whatever comes along to pay the bills. You can’t polish a turd you know.”
"I’m going to see what happens. I want to settle myself at the moment and I’m quite happy to just be with my family."
"No. Downton has an amazing following but it wouldn’t be right for me. On the whole I don’t watch television. I’ve seen a couple of episodes of it, but not deliberately. When you have kids you don’t really watch TV any more and when I do I binge-watch box sets of ‘Breaking Bad’.”
On Maggie and Shirley Maclean:
"I didn’t see them, sadly. I would like to work with my mum but it would have to be something else. It would perhaps be one scene. And also it’s not that I’m running away from it, but at this stage I want people to know me. I don’t like what happens when you get mulched together."
Source: The Times
On acting dynasty:
"Exactly, and I’ve struggled with that for a lot of my life, so I try to go, ‘This is my mum, this is me.’ We are on totally separate paths and we are separate entities. We are not from some acting dynasty or anything. I don’t want a dynasty. It just so happens that I’m an actor."
"He said, ‘Your mum was an actress? Who?’ And when I told him he said, ‘You’re f——— joking. That’s surreal.’ And I thought that was great. What’s nice for me is that she is in my genetic make-up. I embrace that, I love that. But that’s just part of me."
Source: The Times
“Theatre is always something that I go back to as a touchstone.”
Source: Krista Smith, Vogue
“We took the kids to see ‘The Elephantom’ at the National’s Shed at Christmas. It was a great show - very inventive and fun. I think I enjoyed it more than the kids.”
Source: Charlotte Cripps, Rada
On ‘Phedre’ with Diana Rigg:
"She did forgive me, begrudgingly. It wasn’t easy. I thought she’d be more sympathetic.”
Source: The Times
“‘American Horror Story: Coven’. I love this series because it’s sexy, original, brilliantly written and totally twisted - like Hammer Horror on acid. It has a great ensemble cast, headed up by a fantastically febrile Jessica Lang. I highly recommend it.”
Source: Charlotte Cripps, Rada
“I really watch American stuff, ‘Breaking Bad,’ I was a great follower of, and I think is extraordinary. I really like ‘Boardwalk Empire’ and and ‘Mad Men’, all of those kind of series because I just feel they are so brilliantly written. I also love ‘House of Cards’. It is brilliantly written, and the original British series is really good, and this has taken it to another level”
Source: Wilson County News
“‘The Richard Burton Diaries’. I’m finding it difficult to put it down, and not just because it’s a big damn book. You can’t deny that he had an interesting life! The booze, the marriages, the Welshness, the Taylor ….. It’s all there. He turns out great copy too. A good read.”
“Keith Jarrett’s ‘The Koln Concert’. I’ve been a big fan of Jarrett for a while now. He’s an amazing pianist and composer; it’s epic, uplifting, humane and dark. He does a lot of extraneous grunting and yelping throughout, which is entertaining.”
On Visual Arts:
“I took my daughter to see the Paul Klee exhibition at the Tate. She’s four years old, so it was a quick viewing. I love taking my kids to The Tate; they get to run around the Turbine Hall while I get to read the paper. Small blessings.”
Source: Charlotte Cripps, Rada
"I’m a pessimist, so I’m never going to be disappointed”.
Source: The Times
“I was only seasick once. I went on the QE2 when I was a kid. I went from Southampton to New York and about midway, there was a massive, massive storm and I was doing fine. I was actually doing really fine until I ate this huge breakfast. … we call them a greasy gut buster in England. … It was like eggs, bacon… and I was so sick. I was like really, really sick, but I’ve never been sick since on boats.”
Source: Access Hollywood
On His Tattoo:
"I was in my twenties and I got very drunk. I don’t remember much about it but I remember waking up and thinking what the f—-have you done? I remember it was a guy on the Portobello Road who was covered in tattoos and wore a balaclava. I wish I’d chosen something that was a bit more baroque, but it was a drunken decision and I haven’t had a drink for 13 years now."
Source: The Times
On Anna-Louise & his family:
"They weren’t sure if they wanted a woman’s voice or a man’s voice and I said if I get it I’ll take you out for dinner, if you get it you can take me out. I got it and I took her out and that was that.”
"No, it just happened that way. If we’d planned better there would have been more time in between them. Hard, but great fun. Anna-Louise works and that was always very much understood. I want her to have a career. I want to be able to share responsibilities for the children. In this world women need to work, they need to keep their minds."
Source: The Times
On ‘Private Lives’:
"That play is really about people who chime together. There was absolutely no chemistry at all. Nothing against her but it just wasn’t going to happen. When I met with Anna Chancellor I knew she was a kindred spirit. We got one another.”
Source: The Times
"I think it’s one of those things that builds over a period of time and I hit the point where it was the right time for me to stop. I have a switch, it’s off or on. I don’t have anything in between. There are lots of people who say go on, you can have just one. No I can’t, it’s either on or off.”
"There was a moment of clarity where I got a theatre job in NewYork. They put me in a nice apartment. I bought this bottle of vodka on the plane coming over. I remember looking out of the window at New York and going ‘I am going to f—-this up so badly if I carry on the way I am. I am going to stop for two weeks and get myself together.’ I went through two weeks of not drinking, which was not easy. It was then I realised how sick I was. Nights where I normally drank I couldn’t sleep, I was too wired and felt awful.”
"But after two weeks I felt so good that I didn’t want to go back to the life I was living. I remember reading a book and going to sleep and how nice that had been. I remember thinking, ‘When I wake up tomorrow I am not going to feel like s—-,’ and that was when the switch went: ‘My life is better like this’. Now I don’t even think of it. I used to get a waft of wine and I’d think, ‘Oh I’d really love a glass of wine,’ but I don’t even get that any more."
"I think AA is good for people if they want it but I think there is an addiction to talking about your addiction.”
Source: The Times
On Robert Stephens:
"He’s definitely in there, Robert. It was good meeting him when I did and getting to know him because then I didn’t have this baggage of being angry with him. I had a fantastic stepfather so I didn’t resent him in any way, although I was unnerved by him. He was not an easy man although he was incredibly charming, gregarious and fun.”
"He was diagnosed with something that at the time they called hyper mania which is now called bipolar. People have euphoric phases and massive crashes. It’s a form of depression. He used to suffer from this quite badly. When I found this out it changed my view of him because, prior to that, I’d thought of him as just a boozer and a womaniser and then suddenly I realised he just wasn’t in control; it was a chemical in his body.”
"I got to know him when he was having a renaissance at the RSC with King Lear and I was doing Coriolanus at the same time. I feel he was conflicted.”
"He was proud of me and at the same time incredibly frustrated it wasn’t him, so it was odd. Then I saw him get very, very ill with alcohol. That was hard on everyone, not just me."
"And it was all self-inflicted. All those years of abuse. You have done this to yourself."
"Exactly. That was one of those things where you see how destructive it is. It’s not just affecting one person, it’s affecting everyone around them. It took me a while to figure it out, for it to percolate through my consciousness before I made my decision. I had flirted with sobriety. I had stopped for a year while he was ill to say to him, ‘Look if I can do this you can do this.’ It didn’t work. He was still drinking and smoking. When he died I went, ‘Oh f—-it, I’m going to drink again.’"
Source : The Times
On Beverly Cross:
"He was a lovely man, very stable. He really looked after my mum and was just great. My mother and him had been lovers before she met my father. My parents split when I was four. My mother just went, quite rightly so, I’ve got two children that I’m responsible for and your life is in total chaos and our life is in total chaos.”
Source : The Times
OTHERS ON TOBY:
“He has talked about the way he used to get ribbed as a teenager by his mum.”
“Toby and Mark Ryan really get the brunt of that, dealing with the nautical side of things, like how a ship works, the different parts of it, and how to manage a crew. But we took a three mast ship out and we took some of the modern technology off of it, so that we had to raise the sails by hand and tack them, and all that. It was brutal work. It wasn’t a ship that big, but even the little one we had took a lot of work.”
“The whole cast on this show is incredible, but when you get to face off with Toby Stephens in costume, it’s scary and it’s fantastic. One of the greatest acting experiences ever is getting to work with him.”
“It’s kind of interesting, because many years ago, I was visiting Bob Anderson on the set of a James Bond film which costarred Toby Stephens, but I never got to meet Toby. We were probably in the same lunch tent at the time, but I was busy chatting away with Bob, so we never met. But I knew a lot of people – we have a lot of friends in common in the business, and all I’d heard about him was lovely things, so I was very excited to work with Toby. He’s a wonderful actor, absolutely one of the most charismatic characters I’ve ever worked with.“
“We did laugh a lot, from the first thing in the morning – look, if you’re going to be getting dirtied up, tattooed up, and I’m going to go back to ‘Robin of Sherwood’, because there is something about this which reminded me of Robin, simply because of the process of coming in in the morning clean and then being muddied up and this process of being aged in the morning and having the tattoos put on. While you’re sitting and this is all going on, we discovered that the best way to deal with that was just to take the rise out of each other from the moment we arrived to the moment we left. And we did. It was a constant stream of abuse between us, even to the point where I think people were going, ‘Do they mean it?’ So we had this very mad sense, an eccentric British sense of humour, which carried us through a lot of long nights and otherwise gruelling days of filming. But yes, we laughed a lot. We had permission to laugh, because Brad Fuller – we were at three o’clock in the morning, it was raining, we couldn’t shoot and it was a particularly intense scene they were shooting, very emotionally charged, and we were waiting to come into the scene. We went off into a hut and I can’t even remember what we were talking about, but we were laughing like idiots. And Brad came over. And so I’m walking over to him and I gave Toby a look, ‘Uh-oh, shh, we’re in trouble,’ because I thought maybe we were making too much noise or something. Brad said, ‘I have been watching you two for an hour. You have done nothing but giggle like idiots for an hour. What are you laughing at?’ And I just said, ‘I’m not being funny, I don’t think you’d understand this. It’s just British Carry-On humour. It’s just stupid schoolboy humour.’ And he said, ‘It’s three o’clock in the morning, it’s raining, we can’t shoot and we’re in the middle of this depressing scene. What we need is humour, so you have permission to laugh.’ So we took that as, we were given permission by the producer to laugh. So we did, for five months.”
“Due to Toby Stephen’s brilliant acting and our insane British sense of humour, we got on extremely well…we’d just giggle like schoolgirls most of the time when we weren’t shooting.”
“Toby and I, in later episodes, do quite long scenes together. I think one is almost a record 8 or 9 minutes long, just he and I doing a dialogue scene about the situation we’re in, which is virtually unheard of in TV. I give a two-minute monologue in the middle of one of those scenes where I’m just talking about our spiritual relationship to the ocean. So that kind of thing, I wanted to bring that depth of understanding of the emotional relationship, not just between the men serving on a warship but between them and nature.”
Source: Entertainment Monthly
“Toby was so emotionally committed during the death scene that he almost choked the air out of me and soaked me with his tears.”
Source: crave on line
“I’ve choreographed sword fights where there are arms and legs flying off, but the savagery in that scene? Watching Toby do that was genuinely disturbing”
Source: TV Guide
Digital Theatre announced the online release of ‘Private Lives’ with the production available to buy online from 27 February to audiences in the United States. To date, it has been screened in over 1,000 cinemas worldwide. And this February saw the first screening in Australia.
The ‘Black Sails’ boardgame, based on the Starz drama series set in the Golden Age of Piracy was announced. at a US Toy Fair. It was expected to be available in 205.
Asked by Entertainment weekly what Toby would choose as ‘sexiest song choice’, he chose ‘Lemon song’ by Led Zeppelin.
Asked by Entertainment Today what Toby’s favourite Winter Olympic sport was he replied, “I love that thing where they go round with the brushes - I would watch that - cos it’s just so ridiculous” (Curling!)
GQ issued its best-dressed list for 2014 and listed Toby at 32, a new entry, with Elisabetta Canali commenting “Toby always looks immaculately debonair. Whether in Hollywood films or on the UK stage, he carries a strong, directional sense of style.” GQ editorial responded with “When your mother is Dame Maggie Smith you were born to be fabulous – and he has certainly fulfilled his potential.”
It was announced that Rupert Penry Jones would join the cast of ‘Black Sails’ for the second series. He had this to say: "It’s great fun, it’s filmed in Cape Town with a very old friend of mine, Toby Stephens, who’s lovely. I love American shows, the TV they make is the best in the world, especially at the moment, when they are having a golden vein of TV and there are so many great shows.” Rupert worked with Toby on the BBC2 drama series ‘Cambridge Spies’ back in 2003.
JANUARY 2014 : WHAT TOBY DID NEXT…
Cameras recorded the Chichester Festival Theatre’s performance of ‘Private Lives’ at London’s Gielgud Theatre and it began the rounds of cinemas via Digital Theatre. Toby and Anna Chancellor were busy promoting this unique event.
The marketing machine was at full throttle from the beginning of 2014 promoting the upcoming ‘Black Sails’ from Starz. Premiering on Jan 25th it promised “nudity, swearing and blood”.
Written by creator Jonathan Steinberg as a prequel to the Robert Louis Stevenson children’s classic ‘Treasure Island’ - this big gambit for the premium cable channel isn’t for kids. The gritty 8 hour-long episodes are set in a lawless world during the Golden Age of Piracy when our Toby as Captain Flint is beginning his Messianic quest for the largest haul of treasure in the world.
It was aired on video entertainment network Machinima on January 18 - a week before it premiered on Starz.
IN TOBY’S WORDS:
On Black Sails:
“When my agent sent me the script, I just went, ‘forget it.’”
Source: Inside TV
"It is sort of like a western because they are living at the edge of the known world and, like the Wild West, there are no rules. It’s not romantic, it’s vicious and scary. Everyone is surviving by their wits and they’re driven by high stakes and desperation."
Source: LA Times
"My career has really been in Britain, and in Britain you kind of have to roll with things. Our industry is very up and down. It’s very dependent on the States, whether they’re making movies. It’s dependent on the strength of the pound, the economy. I love working in England, but it is tough.”
"I’ve been lucky that I’ve always done theatre. That’s always been the bedrock of my career. If things dry up in terms of films or whatever else, I always go back to theatre, and I love doing theatre. It’s where I get my fulfilment.”
"I actually see myself as being one of the lucky ones. I’ve worked consistently. I’m amazed that, at this stage of my career, I’m getting a break like ‘Black Sails.’ I had no idea what was around the corner and now, in my 40s, I’m suddenly doing this huge series and having the lead part.’’
"It all seemed familiar, because they had peg legs, they had funny hats and beards and all this stuff. So you know where you are with these people, but I’d never seen a version that made it seem real to me the way this does. There are westerns that are very highly romanticised and mythologised, and then you’ll see one that’s very gritty and real. Seeing the real ones makes you go, ‘Hmm, yeah, this has a feel and a texture to it that’s credible.’ That’s what struck me about Black Sails. It takes place in a world that feels real. There’s a historic context. The characters are pragmatic and they’re talking about stuff that was real. It’s not all about treasure and booty, but also about trade. If you stole from a merchant ship, you had to sell those goods to make money. Suddenly you’re talking about fencing stuff.”
"Also these guys are just trying to survive,. The stakes are high because it’s a brutal world. It just felt real to me.”
"In our version of piracy, piracy is quite democratic. These guys vote their captain on and off.”
"He’s a political creature and thinks long-term, but all the guys around him think short-term.”
“They’re about spending their money on booze and whores and having a good time, whereas he’s thinking, ‘I want to make a lot of money so that I can invest in the island, so that we can have this place which is free of England and free of Spain.’ He wants the island to be an independent place where they can be safe.”
"That’s his big plan. It’s quite a good plan and altruistic, but the ways in which he enacts his plan are not always the best ways or the most moral.’’
"I knew they were wanting to make a big splash with this, but, when I turned up and saw what they were building, it totally blew me away. It’s not chintzy or cheesy. The sets are incredibly and dutifully realised, and it feels real when you’re on the sets.”
"It helps you as an actor, because you don’t feel, a lot of the time, like you’re on a set. You feel like you’re a part of this world. The detail is extraordinary. That care carries over to everything. Watching it, you feel like these are real people on real ships and on a real island, doing real jobs. They don’t feel like fantasy characters.’’
"It’s great for me, as an actor, knowing that I’m coming back, that I’ll be able to take my character further along on this story. It’s also great for the creators, because they can start opening things up. You can start knocking down walls and making things bigger.”
"The world is bigger than Nassau, and the British Empire is a global empire. We can get into the sense of the world beyond the Caribbean. So many of the pirate movies I’ve seen, they’re extremely localised. You don’t get the sense of the massive powers, like England and Spain, that are behind everything. Now we can make the stories even more complex and zero in on the characters and take them, and hopefully the audience, on some really fun journeys.’’
"Obviously my parents and me and my brother (Chris Larkin), who is also an actor, we’ve always moved away from being a dynasty. I hate the idea of us being a dynasty. I don’t see it that way at all.”
"To be honest with you, I got into this business because I genuinely thought it was the only thing I could do. I wasn’t particularly good academically. I knew I wasn’t going to go to university. I knew I wasn’t going to get a regular job.”
"But I did know that acting was the one thing I could do. That’s why I went into it, and I’ve never made a big issue of my parents. I’ve never used them to get work, I’ve never relied on them. I’ve kind of eschewed discussing them. So it’s very satisfying now, at this stage of my career, to have something that’s totally independent of them and to be recognised.”
"The director I was just working with on an episode of ‘Black Sails’, he heard me talking about my past and said, ‘Why were you in Stratford-on-Avon as a kid?,’. "I said, ‘My mother was working there.’ He said, ‘Well, who’s your mother?’ I said, ‘Maggie Smith.’ He said, ‘Jesus, you’re kidding me. I just can’t believe it.’ "He had no idea, and to me that’s a great thing.”
"Of course I’m extremely proud of my parents and everything they’ve done, but it’s not attached to what I do. They’re totally independent of me and vice versa. So that’s my take on it.”
“You’re not quite sure if he’s good or bad. You like him, but he does things you find challenging some times.”
“He’s a survivor. They’re at the edge of the world, really, and they’re surviving the best way they can. He’s got a very cool analytical mind and he’s planning way in advance. Most of these pirates live day by day, but Flint has a bigger plan. He’s going to try and liberate these pirates and give them a safe place to be where they can defend themselves against the Spanish and British without fear of being kicked out. But the way he does it isn’t necessarily the right way. He’s got this burning purpose to free the pirates yet he will stop at nothing to achieve it.”
“We did a lot of physical training because they wanted us to look like we worked on ships. We didn’t want to look like ridiculous pumped-up people but we wanted to look we’re used to hauling ropes. We did fight training for the fight scenes, and sailed ships to know which sails do what. We got an understanding on how these pirate crews worked. What’s surprising is they’re a democracy. A lot of these people had been pressed onto service on naval ships. Now they voted on everything.”
“Any day of the week, I’d prefer to be on the show I am now. I appreciate ‘Downton Abbey’ for what it is. I don’t regularly tune in. I appreciate what my mum does in it. She’s great in it. It’s not really a show I enjoy — It’s just not really what I enjoy watching. Playing this kind of thing for me is like going on an exotic vacation because we don’t do this kind of stuff in the UK. … I’ve seen UK shows, I’ve done it, I don’t want to do it for the rest of my life. This is fantastic story and production values, that’s what I want to be involved in.”
Source: Entertainment weekly
“He was in the British Navy. So he has an advantage over the others. He knows strategy, he knows what the Navy is doing.”
“Until shortly before this story starts, these privateers had almost worked with the British Navy. They had been tolerated, if not actively encouraged,.
“Now suddenly the pirates are being treated as criminals. That’s what’s happened as our story starts.”
“Cable TV can show complex character stories. You don’t have to rely on the shorthand of movies. You’re not so limited in the time you have to develop the character. You don’t have to be so black and white.”
“Flint is so enigmatic that you want to know his motivating force. We can show his strengths and his flaws. And then, after that, we can also leave it to the audience.”
“Part of the fun of any show, at least for me when I’m watching, is figuring it out yourself. I spent an enormous amount of time in this role not showing too much, not giving him away. With Flint for me, less was more.”
“You want the audience to do some of the work itself. This show allows them to do that.”
Source: New York Daily News
“Captain Flint is in ‘Treasure Island’, but he’s dead by the beginning of ‘Treasure Island’. It’s his treasure on ‘Treasure Island’, the one that he amassed, he and his crew. We know that he was a terrifying pirate and we know that he went to bury the treasure with ten men and he came back alone. More than that we don’t know. For John and Robert it was a blank canvas. I really took my starting point from the first script that I was given. I just didn’t want him to be cliche-ridden and I wanted him to be real. I wanted him to be a real human being, and I think that’s what John and Robert wanted and they’ve created this perfect backdrop for him to be a real person.”
“We did a lot of training before we started filming, just to get physically in shape. They weren’t looking for some sort of body aesthetic; what they wanted was people who looked like they worked on ships and actors that were fit enough to do extremely long days doing battle sequences. Most of the drama is about the human politics that are going on, and people just trying to survive. There’s a lot of acting that’s required, but these things are punctuated by these very violent battle sequences that give the audience a sense of what it would have been like to be on one of these ships. There’s nothing romanticised about it or glorification of this. It was really scary, it was very claustrophobic, and it was extremely violent.”
"They wanted to create a complex character who ends up as this person but isn’t necessarily that at the beginning of this show.”
“Because he’s a pirate captain, he has to be feared by both his men and by people who sail in those waters. He has to cultivate this image, and he does it very carefully. The violence is very, very shocking — very real — but it’s designed specifically by him to make people afraid of him. He’s not some sort of brute; it’s actually for political reasons. And I enjoy the way that works.”
“Captain Flint is on the back foot. His crew is getting disenchanted with him. They want to kick him out and get a new captain in, and he’s trying to save his position. So the audience isn’t sure about him. I won’t give it away, but the end of it stamps him: You go, ‘That’s why he’s the captain. That’s why he’s the right guy to be running this ship.’”
“We’re trying to make it as present as possible, so they just happen to be wearing these costumes, they just happen to be in a different century,”
Source: Entertainment weekly
“I was doing a film in Wales that was a low budget film, and I was in every single scene. My agents rang me up and I had this conversation with her on a lunch break. She said, “I’ve got this script. You’ve gotta read it. It’s a pirate show, and there’s a character you have to play.” I was like, “When am I gonna have time to put myself on tape?” And she said, “You have to read this. It’s unbelievable.” So, I kept put it off, and she kept saying, “You’ve gotta read it!” Eventually, I read it and immediately I went, “I want to do this. I want to play this part.” It was just like nothing I had ever seen before on TV. I was like, “This really is a great opportunity.” That makes it slightly painful, as an actor, because you immediately become attached to a character that you know the odds are you’re not going to get to play. So, I put myself on tape. It was the easiest transit from doing the audition to getting the role that I’ve ever had. It seems the gods were with me, and it worked out. This was just a great opportunity. “
“I do feel so privileged to get a chance to play a character that goes on such a journey. He’s an incredibly cool, interesting guy to play. He’s charismatic. What’s great is that an audience has to project all kinds of things onto him before they work out what is actually driving him. It’s revealed so gradually and incrementally, what he is and what’s driving him. It’s just a really interesting guy to play and a journey to go on. I’d never get this opportunity in the UK. I just would never get the opportunity to do this, so it’s great. At the end of the pilot episode, he seems to be trying to protect himself and his position, and you’re not quite sure whether he is going to protect it because it seems like the other guy is really tough. And then, at the end of it, you go, “Now I see who this guy is and what he’s capable of doing.” You think you know what he is, but then, as it goes on, you think he’s this uber-violent, ruthless guy. And then, it’s revealed that he’s actually a very complex human being that has this past and this emotional life that you were not expecting.”
“I think that’s what’s so great about this series. It takes something that you think you know and totally flips it. Generally, in pirate stuff, pirates are a wash. They all where the same kind of clothing, they sound the same, and their motives are the same. They want to rape, pillage, get booty and drink rum. This makes them all into human beings and gives them all a backstory, and they’re all very different. They all have different ways of being a captain. They all have different motives for doing what they’re doing. They’re all very different people. I think that makes it very, very interesting to watch.”
“I don’t think I’m really giving anything away in saying that he comes from a Naval background. He’s someone who was originally in the Navy, and that’s what gives him an edge above a lot of the other pirates. He is Naval trained, so he’s very superior, nautically. He also understands the British Navy’s tactics, so he can guess what they’re doing. Britain is always over the horizon as the enemy. They’re the threat that’s constantly there, that’s going to come and squash them. Britain and Spain are the two oppressive forces. And I think that’s really good because it gives it a real context. It’s not a mythological world. It really takes place in a specific time when there was a huge amount going on.”
When I was filming the first season, I was reading the episodes as they were coming in, and I thought, “Of course, there was the slave trade at that time.” There is a storylines about slaves in a hole that we discover. You’ve got the French Revolution that’s just happened. You’ve got the American War of Independence that’s going to happen in 50 years. There’s the Age of Enlightenment. There’s this whole story that, as we go along, is fed in, more and more. Without it being boring or just a history lesson, it just gives it a real texture and a feeling of, “Wow, this is a world.” But at the same time, it’s a world with themes that are current now. There are economic themes, moral themes and political themes that are still relevant today, so that it gives us a reason for doing this show. We’re not just doing a pirate show for the sake of doing a pirate show. It actually has resonance with what we’re going through now.”
“The more I did it, the more I went, “Actually, this is really interesting.” The most I read about was how a ship ran. It’s one thing to play a captain, but you have to know what that entails and how you became a captain. Also, his Naval background meant that I needed to know how the Navy ran, at the time. He would have joined when he was probably about 10, and he would have worked his way up. I wanted to know what kind of life that was, just to give a sense of knowing who he is and where he is, in this world. That was important to me, and it was actually interesting. I’m interested in that stuff, anyway.”
“Mrs. Barlow is his anchor. It’s revealed, as we go on, but there is obviously a bond there and a pact that they have. That’s deeper than any of the stuff that’s going on, on a superficial level of the day-to-day survival. There is a deep-seeded anger, as well, about his past. It’s a revenge anger. He’s deeply angry with Britain and what it’s done to him, in his past. That’s one of the motivating forces. And anger is not always the best motivating force. I think he’s somebody who’s desperate to do the right thing, but his character flaws get in the way. He wants his men to love him and he wants to do the right thing for them, but he goes about it the wrong way.”
“He’s a pragmatist. He sees that he has to work with this woman, and he sees somebody who wants the same thing. He wants to stand up and have an independent place that’s safe from Britain and safe from Spain, and that can defend itself, but that doesn’t necessarily require them to be pirates, for the rest of their lives. That’s the bond he has with Eleanor. Eleanor wants the same thing. She loves this place. She wants it to work and be a functioning place, and probably also wants it not to rely on piracy. That’s the connection they have. It’s like a father-daughter relationship, but you’re also not quite sure if there’s a romantic thing going on there. It’s an interesting relationship.”
"What was important to me was that, yeah we put on our pirate clothes, but those are just the clothes we wear. They’re not fancy and clean, they’re dirty. It was very important to us not to pose as these people — we wanted them to be seen as real people.”
"Piracy was something that I guess I knew about, but it was really a mythologized version of piracy. I didn’t really understand the history of it.”
On what mum thinks:
"I’m not reliant anymore on whether she enjoys something."
"It’s not going to ruin her day."
"Nerve-wracking" when she comes to see him in a play "and it’s palpable whether she’s liked it or not."
Toby took part in a number of TV shows to promote ‘Black Sails.
Toby was spotted at a Private dinner for the new Starz original series "Black Sails" at the Explorers Club on Tuesday January 14 in New York.
Confirmation was received that Toby would record a further 10 episodes for the second series of ‘Black Sails’ and was back in South Africa for the filming.
Toby joined his mother as an established name in the latest edition of ‘Who’s Who’.
A reminder from years gone by, Toby was once more seen ‘modelling’ for the Italian label Canali as part of their advertising campaign, ‘200 steps’ which celebrates 80 years for Canali. Toby was chosen as “one of the most versatile performers of his generation.”
2013 : TOBY TRIVIA
Toby with the cast of ‘Private Lives’ helped raise £35,000 for the Hand in Hand for Syria Charity helping victims of the civil war. “We felt compelled to do something” he said.
Toby and Anna-Louise co-produced ‘Private Lives’ in London.
Rumours were circulating that Toby was to appear in ‘Broken Wings’, the first film in the Fallen Eagle series. But unconfirmed.
Toby was nominated for the his role in ‘Private Lives’ in the Evening Standard 2013 awards.
Toby donated a sketch for the Momo young persons’ choir project.
‘The Machine’ takes 4 British Academy Cymru Awards on BAFTA WALES:
- Original Music
- Make up and hair
- Costume design
- Special achievement award for film
‘The Machine’ was voted best British Film at the 2013 Raindance Film Festival
It was confirmed that Toby would once again reprise his role as Radio’s James Bond in the new BBC radio adaptation of ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ which was recorded in May.
2013 : OTHERS ON TOBY
“It was a conscious decision. We’d sort of avoided it. We’d always thought we won’t do theatre together because it can be tricky, but this just seemed to be perfect for us and we wanted to produce stuff together. It’s about control. Actors have very little control over their work and what they do. We’ve got three children and inevitably you think it’s great to do theatre but one doesn’t make really enough money doing that if you’ve got a family. So we thought ‘What can we do to try and see if we can be a bit more involved in what we do?’ This is not something new and unique. Actors used to produce and manage their work. I think if it had been Toby and I playing Amanda and Elyot, I don’t think either of us would have wanted to do that. I personally think that would be very difficult for us at this point in our lives with three little children. Why would you do that? It would be quite hard, because you’d have to explore a lot of things about love, which you could do with another actor who’s not your husband or wife. I think one has to look after one’s personal private life and I don’t know if I want to do that on stage. Toby has a way of making the language sound like it has never been said before and I know whenever I work with him he is always in the moment. That’s an amazing skill to have and to watch. People say ‘Toby must have made up some of that.’ He hasn’t made up any of it, he’s made it sound like it’s never been said before and he’s made it seem easy, and that’s the most difficult thing. People say ‘He’s playing himself.’ Toby’s not playing himself, he’s created someone who’s very relaxed and is entirely that person. That is really hard to do.”
“Toby always has a shower before every show.”
“ I think it’s partly because of the people we are; Toby and I are not jealous or competitive of one another’s careers. That would be ridiculous.”
“I gave Toby a smell for Elyot. We’ve even got Anna onto having a smell too. We all smell really nice.”
“There are some actors you know you couldn’t. I think it’s what Coward said: it’s chemical what d’you call ‘ems. There’s no real knowing, is there? We were lucky. As an outsider you think, if they act like that, can it be possible that they can just switch off and go and have a cup of tea? You’d think that those two must really be at it.”
Source: The Telegraph
“Toby tends not to. He doesn’t really like dancing. He’ll be doing his stretching by the side of the stage.”
Source: The Spectator
"I’ve lacerated his face. I smashed the record badly and ripped his face. I actually am covered in bruises.
"Once he threw me in the rehearsal and I went skidding across the floor. There’s always going to be an element of things going wrong if you’re going to throw yourself at it like that."
Source: The Standard
“I love him. It doesn’t always work out in that play. It can be quite a combative relationship because of what’s happening with the characters but it works for us. Toby’s a fantastic actor and I’’m very lucky to be in it with him.”
“It made our working relationship absolutely wonderful. Many Amanda and Elyots have problems over who gets more love from the audience and they will compete for laughs, but we never did.”
“The first time was so absolutely terrifying that I said to Toby, ‘Don’t tell me when your Mum’s here.’ The second time, I overheard him telling a dresser, ‘The Old Lady is in,’ and I thought, I can’t bear it. But she was wonderful when I met her and she sent beautiful flowers. She couldn’t have been nicer and I couldn’t admire her more. It was wonderful for me to have her support.”
Source: BBC America
“There is a sibling element which can suddenly veer without your even knowing into some sort of rivalry that you never even expected. That makes it a dangerous sport. I feel happy if Toby hits a tone and you suddenly hear a laugh that hasn’t happened before. We really want the play to work. I think, if I do that will that ruin your laugh? Because if it will then I won’t do it.”
“We have a very kinetic relationship during the course of the series in the sense that I’m trying to cajole him sometimes to do something, or warn him of something, and he wants to go and do something else. But there’s a lot of humour in there, too. So it’s really a rich and amazing relationship, which we played on during the show
“I have to say, it’s a very, very, talented cast, one of the most talented ensembles that it’s been my pleasure to work with, and we all got on very, very well. Toby Stephens and I really got on well right from the very first reading. I think we both went ‘OK, we’ve got it, we know where we are’. I think it was because we both had the same sense of humour. Very daft British sense of humour! It was a very natural symbiotic relationship. It was great.”
“We had a few sore backs. Also, standing on a rocking ship in a tank at 4 am in the morning being hosed down as the temperature drops and you’re stood there in just a calico shirt and a pair of leather breeches. But that’s when the humour comes in. Toby and I got on so well we were in a shack in the town filming a particularly intense scene. We were waiting to do our stuff, but for some reason we suddenly started giggling at 3 am. It was raining, very cold and a very intense scene. I can’t remember what we were even talking about, but it was something to do with either the Carry On movies or people that we’d known in the business who were funny. We literally laughed for about an hour! Brad [Fuller, Executive Producer] came over, and I nudged Toby saying ‘we’re about to get in trouble now’. He came over and said ‘I’ve been watching you for an hour and you’ve been giggling like schoolgirls! What are you talking about?’ I said ‘you know what, Brad, it would probably take a lot to explain!’ He said ‘I just want to let you know it’s now 4 o’clock, it’s raining, we’re all freezing, tired, everybody wants to go home, and we’re doing this scene. So what we need is more humour, so you have my permission to keep laughing.’ So we did! We literally laughed like fools and had a lot of fun in doing so.”
2013: TOBY ON ACTING:
“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.”
“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.”
“First and foremost, it’s a way of putting bread on the table.”
“Until a few years ago, I was endlessly playing villainous, smug, posh guys on telly, because I’d played a Bond villain. 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.”
“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.”
“To direct – not just plays, but a film. It’s just a question of finding something I really want to do, and then working out when to take the time. I have three kids: it’s imperative I keep the wagon going.”
“I did ‘Phèdre’ in New York in the 1990s, when I was partying and drinking a lot. I played Hippolytus, who is supposed to be a ravishingly beautiful young man; but by the time we were reviewed, I’d become quite a large boy. One of the reviews said, ‘Toby Stephens’s Hippolytus needs to get on a StairMaster.’ It was utterly appalling, but it did galvanise me to get my shit together.”
"Being cast in ‘Black Sails’. It’s a very different kind of character for me."
"I was very lost for a while a couple of years ago. I was doing a lot of great theatre, but I just couldn’t work out how to make ends meet."
Source: The Guardian
“I really like being relaxed when I’m on stage. I hate feeling tense and anxious, so I try and have a shower before every performance just because it relaxes me and gets me to a stage where I feel ready for it.”
“I don’t see myself as part of any dynasty. It started with my mum and dad – there was no one behind them.”
“With my kids, I want them to do what they want. I won’t stop them from doing it, but I would, certainly, want them to consider whether it is the right thing for them. It is such a hard industry to be in, and I don’t think it is getting any easier.”
“Nepotism doesn’t work in this industry, because you can either do it or you can’t. If you can’t, no one is going to give you a job. It doesn’t matter who your parents are.”
Source: The Daily Telegraph
2013 : IN TOBY’S OWN WORDS….
TOBY ON FILMS:
“The film that had most impact on me when I was growing up was Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’. I was 14, at a friend’s house. I was freaked out for a long time afterwards, but I loved being so scared. It made me realise how interesting it could be to play disturbed, psychologically complex characters. With three young children, I don’t get to the cinema as much as I’d like but the last film I really enjoyed, on DVD, was Kathryn Bigelow’s ‘The Hurt Locker’ about a bomb-disposal team in Iraq.”
TOBY ON TV:
“‘Breaking Bad’ is a brilliant US drama created by Vince Gilligan. I still can’t believe he pitched this – about a chemistry teacher with cancer who turns to crime – to TV bosses, and they said: ‘We’ll make that!’ It would never get the green light in Britain. Incredibly, it’s into its fifth series. The cast, in particular Bryan Cranston who plays the lead, are phenomenal, as are the writers. I’ve never seen a duff episode, and you can’t say that about many TV shows. ‘Boardwalk Empire’ is another compelling, beautifully realised US drama. I don’t watch much British TV any more. I prefer American shows because I find them so much more original. We just endlessly repeat the same old stuff.”
TOBY ON THEATRE
“I went to see Jez Butterworth’s ‘Jerusalem’ at London’s Royal Court when it opened in 2009 and it blew me away. Mark Rylance was fantastic in the lead, though I think a lot of people were distracted by his performance and didn’t realise how good the work was: it’s a really powerful play”.
It starts off as a rather parochial piece of work about a ‘gyppo’ who sells drugs, then develops in the second act, arguing that we’ve lost our identity as a nation, don’t really know who we are any more, and have lost our connection to the countryside and the land. I walked out a different person to the one who walked in a couple of hours earlier. You can’t ask more than that, can you? Most recently, I enjoyed a sparkling open- air performance of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, at Shakespeare’s Globe in London, the perfect place to see Shakespeare.”
TOBY ON MUSIC AND RADIO
“My favourite album is Spiritualized’s 1995 album, ‘Pure Phase’. I was working at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford- upon- Avon when this came out. It was a really happy time, and this always reminds me of those days. I reckon I’ll be listening to this in my sixties. I rarely listen to anything these days that really makes me sit up and go ‘Wow!’ But ‘Phosphene Dream’ by ‘The Black Angels’, a psychedelic band from Texas, is a cracker. Before I had kids, I’d have a snooze in the afternoon with Radio 4’s ‘Afternoon Drama’ – my favourite show – in the background. I still do from time to time when I get the chance, in part as I’ll often have a mate in one of the plays. I love recording radio plays: you just turn up and tend to do really good work as you’re reading off the cuff, not having to learn all the lines.”
TOBY ON BOOKS
“Philip Roth is one of the world’s greatest living novelists, and 1997’s ‘American Pastoral’ is perhaps his finest moment. A tragedy about a Jewish man who wants to be all-American – his nickname is ‘The Swede’ because he has blond hair – embodying the American Dream. But he loses touch with his roots and lays the seeds of his downfall. I couldn’t put it down: a modern classic. I sometimes find historical novels hard work as you have to steep yourself in the era to get the story but I’m reading Hilary Mantel’s ‘Bring Up The Bodies’: brilliant.”
TOBY ON ART
“I’m a big fan of the Mark Rothko, in particular his Black On Maroon series. His paintings can be ‘hard work’ but there’s something that appeals to me. They were commissioned for the Four Seasons’ restaurant in New York in the late 1950s and are meant to be viewed together not individually. I saw them at a Rothko retrospective at the Tate Modern a couple of years ago. Recently, I was really taken by the Cinematic Visions exhibition, at the Victoria Miro Gallery in London.”
“William Blake’s ‘The Ghost of a Flea’. It’s both creepy and magical.”
Source: ‘What turns me on’ - Event Magazine
First record bought
“A live Doors album, aged 14.”
Book that changed your life
“‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ by Hunter S Thompson”
“That I am being haunted by someone I can’t see.”
Favourite fairy tale
“‘Hansel and Gretel’. I have young kids and it’s their favourite.”
Poem known by heart
“‘Jabberwocky’ by Lewis Carroll. It’s the only one that stuck from school.”
“The Three Stooges”
Favourite hour of the day
Would sing a duet with
Dream lunch date
“My old friend , the playwright Simon Gray, who died a few years ago. He was great company and I miss him a lot.”
Worth fighting for
Brains or beauty
Money or sex
James Dean or James Stewart
Grace Kelly or Grace Jones
“I don’t drink alcohol, so a triple-shot flat white.”
Film you wish you’d been in
In your Room 101
“Facebook. I sound like an old fart”
Fancy dress theme
Most inspired by
“Having had children of my own, I most admire single parents”
Would like to meet
“Bob Dylan, but I’d die of nerves”
Worth staying in for
“An episode of ‘Breaking Bad’”
Source: ‘My cultural life’ - Harpers Bazaar
2013 : PUBLIC APPEARANCES
Lots of Toby sightings again in 2013.
On 4 June he and Anna-Louise were spotted at the 10th annual Glamour Women of the Year Awards which was held in a specially constructed venue in Berkeley Square Gardens.
On 7 June, he was spotted at the Victoria Miro Gallery for the Cinematic Visions exhibition in support of the bottle top foundation. The exhibition entitled ‘Painting at the Edge of Reality’ ran from 8 June to 3 August 2013.
15th June saw Toby in the BBC radio studios for an interview discussing ‘Private Lives’ with Graham Norton on his Radio 2 show. And later the same day he was to be heard on Gaby Roslin’s BBC London Radio show, together with Anna Chancellor.
‘Private Lives’ had its glittering opening press night party in Soho on 3rd July. Graham Norton and Dominic West were among the stars who attended the opening night. After the curtain fell, the play’s stars headed across the road to Kettners to celebrate with their friends and family.
The following week, on 9 July, Toby and Anna Chancellor continued the promotion for ‘Private Lives’ with an appearance on ‘This Morning’ on ITV;
and on 13 July they appeared on the Andrew Marr Show on BBC1 with Jeremy Vine.
The promotion of ‘Black Sails’ commenced in the autumn and on 1st October there was a press conference at the Mayfair Hotel in London, followed by a reception at Nobo.
On 6 October, ‘The Machine’ was screened as part of the Raindance Film Festival in Leicester Square, London.
The following day, Toby was in Cannes, France, at MIPCOM 2013 continuing the promotion of ‘Black Sails’ for followed by the Starz party.
On October 12 Toby was to be seen in New York at the NY Comic Con once more promoting ‘Black Sails’.
On 17 October Toby was spotted at the ‘Blazing a Trail’ launch for the Rainbow Trust.
2013 : TV & AUDIO WORK
Toby appeared in the much anticipated documentary about Shakespeare called ‘Muse of Fire’ for BBC2.
A cornucopia of stars from the world of theatre and film were interviewed on what performing Shakespeare meant to them. Its aim was to show that Shakespeare wasn’t dull or boring.
Self-funded, Dan Poole and Giles Terera, two actors who met at drama school, persuaded Britain’s finest acting talents to share their thoughts on Shakespeare.
After some very busy years for Toby in the ‘audio’ department, 2013 saw only repeats on BBC Radio and no new recordings were announced.
He did however add his dulcet tones to an advertisement for Roark Gyms.
2013 : TOBY ON ‘BLACK SAILS’
"There’s a very clichéd image of pirates. This is much more gritty, real, dirty.”
"He hasn’t been delivering for the men, they’re ready to throw him off. You’re constantly searching for what drives him. What is his engine?"
Source: Entertainment weekly
“I play Captain Flint, who’s the captain of The Walrus. When we meet him in the first episode, he’s historically been the biggest earner on the island; he has the most fearsome reputation; he’s got the best crew, but he’s on a fallow period where he hasn’t been making so much money, and his crew is becoming discontent. There is a character who wants to become captain instead of him. He believes he’s better and that he could do better, and they want to get rid of Flint. At the time, these crews were democratic. You voted a captain onto the ship. The only time the captain had absolute control was during battle. So, there’s this sense that Flint, this terrifying figure, is on the edge at the beginning of the series, and the crew could get rid of him, and he’s trying to cling onto power.”
“Well, I think having a theatre background always helps, because it’s just part of my palate, as it were. But in terms of somebody who needs to—We’re on an epic canvas here. They’re not small characters. They’re real human beings, but they’re big personalities and they have to hold sway over these crews. So there is a certain theatrical element to what they are. But there’s a reverse side of that where they’re real human beings. These are real people; they’re textured. So, there’s a real theatricality to him, but at the same time he’s a very enigmatic character. We don’t really know what’s driving him, what the engine is. And that’s revealed slowly throughout the series, especially in the second series, which we’re about to film. Why he is what he is and what’s driving him.”
“Well, I think that part of the fun of doing these long-running TV shows, hopefully long-running TV shows, is you don’t know where it’s going. But the creators generally give you enough information about them to inform a coherent character that is nuanced and is real, and you have to work with that material. But like real life, we all change. Things are thrown at us; events happen that kick us into some other part of our life. Other parts of us are reflected or whatever. So, I think I’m starting off from this basis. I don’t know where he is going to go. I’m looking forward to finding out, and I’m all for changing as it goes along, and it being something that is elastic instead of stuck.”
“I think that’s part of the fun of this and what’s exciting about this series. Because we are taking something that is such a cliché written story and world and we’re creating something that is real. And it’s in a historical context that is real. So, it’s such a fascinating period. You have slavery, you have America as a colony. On the horizon, the American War of Independence is coming; the French Revolution; the Age of Enlightenment. This is all happening at the same time. Rather than just these mythological worlds where pirates exist on their own—it just so happens that they’re walking around in 18th century costumes—it’s just a totally fantastic world. Whereas this has a place in time. There’s a pragmatic sense that these guys are there to earn a living, and it’s a really a dangerous world in which they exist. It’s not glamorised. They have to think about what they’re going to do. They’re always living on the edge of survival. And they’re doing this because they have to survive. It creates a totally different world. I think the people who come to this expecting the mythologial world, what they’re going to get is so much more entertaining and so much more interesting.”
“What I loved about what Jon said the other day as well is that this really is like an office situation. These guys go to work, and they work on the ship, and they all have relationships that are totally political relationships that totally reflect a modern society and modern environments we work in, which gives it a real sort of irony and at times and a sense of lightness. They’re all kind of rubbing along together, and some of them don’t get on and some of them don’t like the other person, and it really gives you a sense that these are real people in a real situation, as opposed to some fantastical world.”
“But is there some sort of line you have to tread where on the one hand you want your character to be relatable, but on the other hand, they’re pirates!”
“It’s a fun line to walk, because when you make them personable, you go, ‘Ha, I can relate to this guy! He’s sort of like me!’ And then the next minute, you’re punching someone to death and they’re like, ‘Ahhh, I don’t know what you’re doing now!’ This is terrifying, and that’s a really fun line for us to play as actors. But also audience members: They’ll be sucked into this world and they’ll like these characters. They’ll relate to them, and then they’ll do terrible things, which makes it hard for you to root for them. You’re constantly having to adjust your point-of-view on these people, but yet we create a world in which they understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. And that gives them a conflict. That’s the great thing about these long-running shows now. We’re in the heyday of TV. We can create these very nuanced and complex stories that don’t patronise audiences, that don’t use the shorthand of film. We can really create complex and adult stories for audiences.”
Source: David Crow, danofgreeks
“I play Captain Flint who is the captain of the Walrus. When we join in, historically he has been the most successful pirate on the island. He’s brought in the most money, but he’s hit a foul patch and his crew is becoming discontented and beginning to doubt his captaincy. There’s a guy on the crew who is trying to get him kicked out because these crews are democracies. They’d all be pressed, the crews and pirate ships have all been pressed to naval ships or onto merchant ships. They were taken away from their families, they were treated appallingly, they were paid very little, it was a very hard life, so when they became pirates, they imposed this real democratic system which was terribly inefficient because every time there was a decision to be made, they all kind of had to go by show of hands. The only time the captain had absolute power was in battle. So anyway, there’s this sense at the beginning of this that Flint is this terrifying figure, but he’s on the back foot, he’s in trouble, they’re going to vote him off, and he has to survive.”
“I read ‘Treasure Island’, but it wasn’t really that much help. The only things that are really in there is that he was this terrifying figure, that the treasure on Treasure Island is his, he is dead, he went to the island with 10 crew members and came back alone, so we know this about him and that he still has this hold on these characters at the beginning of ‘Treasure Island’, they all have, you know, they’re all sort of generated from Flint’s power, but really there was a blank canvas. It was more John that really, he went back and wanted to paint something totally credible and much more complex I think than the book. This is a prequel, but there’s so much more we can do to tell this story, you know. We know we connect with it there, but there’s so much more in between that we can, and so much fun we can have. And also, you know, John was saying ‘Treasure Island’ is a kind of children’s camp fire story. We want to tell something that’s much more complex and adult.”
“I think piracy is something that has a very strong connection with people. I think piracy is a prequel to Western. You know, these guys are outside the rules of society. They are free booters, they do what they want, they live by their own rules. I think there’s something very appealing, especially in the male side, about that. And there is this feeling that they are, there’s this kind of combination of all kind of things in there like The Man With No Name, you know, walking into town. They’re bad, they’re good, we’re not quite sure if we side with them or we don’t side with them. There’s a lot of parity with that, and I think that’s one of the reasons why it’s perennial. The thing is that it hasn’t been done before in this way. You know, I think Westerns, they’ve gone back and they’ve done Westerns where they’ve gotta strip back a lot of the mythology and they’ve done this gritty kind of blend on it with piracy. And I think that’s, it’s ripe for doing it, and it just lends it so much more complexity and a real texture. That’s what it would have been like.”
“And historically, it’s been there from day 1. As soon as people started taking merchandise on the sea, there was pirates. And in fact the heyday of what we’re talking about in piracy in the Caribbean, it happened over about 6 years before the British stopped them. Because it was one of those things at first that was working in Britain’s interest. As long as they were raiding French and Spanish ships, hey, we don’t mind, you know? Go ahead. And then when they started affecting British trade to the Americas, then there was a problem and then they had to go down there and stomp on them. And so what we’re really talking about is a five year period where it really, you know, these people flourished and it ended and we know that it ended, and that’s a great start for a piece as well because there is a finite, we know that Flint dies, but I mean, how does he get there and what happens? So it’s a tragedy as well as a…”
“It is a cliffhanger, but it could, you could look at it, it has a sort of, it has some sort of, well, it is a cliffhanger. But it’s satisfying in itself. I want to watch comes next! I want to know how they get out of it.”
Source: NYCC - Black Sails Roundtable Interview #2 Review by Randall Unger
"It was one of the most horrible feelings, knowing that you can’t propel yourself back up to the surface and you’re relying on some guy to come in with air. But when you see the shot, you know it was worth it, but it was tough."
"The battle sequences were very long days, of not just doing the physical stunts but rehearsing it over and over again until they were happy to blow the shit out of the ship. It cost a lot of money, and it had to go right."
Source: Hollywood Reporter
“Really, my root was the script. I read Treasure Island for some clues. But Jonathan’s was an incredibly well-defined character. What I wanted to avoid was posturing as ‘scary.’ I wanted him to be real.”
“The stakes keep getting higher and higher and higher. And that’s one of the great things. As the series progresses the audience is just going to go, how is he going to get out of this?”
2013 : ‘BLACK SAILS’
Following the success of ‘Private Lives’ at Chichester, Toby headed to South Africa to film ‘Black Sails’ for the Starz channel in the USA.
Transformers director Michael Bay was at the helm (pardon the pun) for ‘Black Sails’, a ‘Treasure Island’ prequel starring Toby as the “charismatic but ruthless Captain Flint”. The series which takes place both on ship and on the island of Nassau finds Flint facing off against a rival pirate captain and his cronies as well as his own crew - some 20 years prior to ‘Treasure Island’.
Flint, the most brilliant and feared pirate captain of his day, takes on a fast-talking young addition to his crew who goes by the name of John Silver, who has stolen a map to a Spanish Treasure galleon that Flint is after. Threatened with extinction on all sides, they fight against the British Royal Navy for the survival of New Providence Island, the most notorious criminal haven of its day – a debauched paradise teeming with pirates, prostitutes, thieves and fortune seekers, a place defined by both its enlightened ideals and its stunning brutality.
And six months before its premier, Starz announced it would be filming a second series of a further 10 episodes at Cape Town Studios in South Africa, commencing in November.