Pop Culture, Recommendation

Ranking Toby Stephens’ Work

When I was a teenager and checking out every Josh Hartnett movie from Blockbuster, I thought my obsessive celebrity love would be something I would outgrow.  Yet here I am over a decade later, watching as many things with Toby Stephens in them as possible.  For (probably only my own) your enjoyment, a ranking of everything I’ve seen Toby Stephens in!

1. Black Sails

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This is the show that brought Stephens’ genius to my awareness (and through my inability to shut up – to many other people’s awareness as well).  As James McGraw turned Captain Flint, Stephens is electric.  He is the personification of “hurt people hurt people,” and throughout four seasons we see him wrestle with the trauma of his past while he steps all over people in pursuit of a better world.  He is my sweet murderous baby, and there is no contradiction.

Watch on Starz or Hulu

(If you want to read my episode reviews and essays, head on over to my separate Black Sails website.)

2. Mangal Pandey: The Rising

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One of the great joys of searching movies by actors is that you wind up finding treasures that would otherwise have eluded you.  Such is the case with Mangal Pandey, a Bollywood movie about the British empire/comany’s influence in India and the uprising against them.  Stephens is a Scottish officer who befriends Mangal and questions his allegiance when Mangal rebels.  It’s glorious, and I’m so glad my obsession led me to such a beautiful film.

Watch on YouTube

(make sure you use Closed Captioning for English subtitles)

3. And Then There Were None

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This is a deliciously moody adaptation of Agatha Christie’s murder mystery, and while it is FULL of excellent British actors, my eyes were only on Toby Stephens (okay, and Aiden Turner).  His increasingly anxious and paranoid Dr. Armstrong is a delight, and the scene in which the final four have a cocaine-fueled party?  MY FAVORITE.

4. Jane Eyre

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As an adult, I know that Mr. Rochester is all shades of sketch, but he plays right into my “sassy authoritative man who would die for you” fantasy, so Teenage Tricia is very gratified to see Stephens playing one of her longest lasting fictional crushes.

5.  Vexed

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God bless Twitter for letting me know that this comedy police procedural starring Toby Stephens is now available on Netflix.  Unlike everything else on this list, Vexed is Toby at his silliest.  It’s pure British comedy, which is sometimes painful and other time hilarious.  Toby’s character is a lazy asshole who is still somehow charming (perhaps I am blinded by his Toby-ness), and the crimes are very much secondary to the interpersonal conflict and humor between him and his amazing partner Kate.  Just how I like it.

Watch on Netflix

6. Die Another Day

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This movie is TERRIBLE, but Stephens is a wonderfully sneer-y villain that would have defeated Bond if I’d had my way.  I mean, I can’t stress how bad this movie is – horrible action sequences, 90s filming techniques, painful innuendos, everywhere sexism – but I also cannot stress how gratifying it was to see Stephens running around sword fighting in a white tank top with suspenders.


 

*TO BE UPDATED AS I CONTINUE TO WATCH TOBY STEPHENS’ FILMS*

Recommendations welcome!

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