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Robert Stephens Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (3) | Spouse (4) | Trivia (11) | Personal Quotes (10)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 14 July 1931Bristol, England, UK
Date of Death 12 November 1995London, England, UK  (complications during surgery)
Birth NameRobert Graham Stephens
Height 6' 1" (1.85 m)

Mini Bio (3)

Sir Robert's career fell into two distinct parts. In the 60's, he was widely regarded as the heir of Laurence Olivier. But, after his departure from Britain's National Theatre in 1970 and the breakup of his marriage with Maggie Smith three years later, he suffered a slump made worse by heavy drinking. In the 90's, the Royal Shakespeare Company invited him to play first Falstaff in "Henry IV" and then Lear in "King Lear", and this re-established Stephens's career. He was knighted early in 1995.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gil Neiger <gil@ccm.jf.intel.com>

Sir Robert Stephens was a flamboyant, award-winning Shakespearean actor who called himself 'knight errant.' One of his three ex-wives was the actress Maggie Smith with whom he acted in the 1960's and 1970's on stage and on film. Sir Robert faded from view for most of the late 1970's and 1980's, resurfacing in recent years to give fine Shakespearean performances. He was the recipient of the 1993 Olivier award.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Anonymous

Sir Robert Stephens, knighted in 1995, was a leading actor in the formative years of Britain's National Theater and won fresh acclaim as a major Shakespearean performer late in his career.

His career fell into two distinct parts. In the 1960s he was regarded as the heir of Sir Laurence Olivier. After his departure from the company in 1970, he went into a slump that was made worse by heavy drinking. Not until the 1990s, when the Royal Shakespeare Company invited him first to play Falstaff in "Henry IV" and then the title role in "King Lear", did he re-establish himself at the forefront of his profession. Maggie Smith was his third wife, the couple having performed together since at least 1965.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: A. Nonymous

Spouse (4)

Patricia Quinn (January 1995 - 12 November 1995) (his death)
Maggie Smith (29 June 1967 - 6 May 1975) (divorced) (2 children)
Tarn Bassett (April 1956 - 24 May 1967) (divorced) (1 child)
Nora Ann Simmons (1951 - 1952) (divorced) (1 child)

Trivia (11)

Father of actors Toby Stephens and Chris Larkin.
One of eight actors profiled by Roger Lewis in his 1989 book, "Stage People": the interview with Stephens takes place in the Dirty Duck pub in Stratford-on-Avon.
He was awarded the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award in 1993 (1992 season) for Best Actor for his performance as Falstaff in "Henry IV, parts I & II" at the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Was nominated for Broadway's 1959 Tony Award as Best Actor (Dramatic) for "Epitaph for George Dillon."
Appeared with his then-wife, Maggie Smith, in Much Ado About Nothing (1967), which was, at least, the second film based on a William Shakespeare play, featuring a real-life husband and wife, that was later remade with another real-life husband and wife. The Taming of the Shrew (1929) starred then-husband-and-wife, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, and was remade in 1967 with then-husband-and-wife Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. The Taming of the Shrew (1967) was directed by Franco Zeffirelli, who also directed the stage "Much Ado" with Stephens and Smith which was adapted for television in the same year, with only one recorded change from the stage cast. The 1993 remake of "Much Ado" starred Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson. Stephens worked jointly with Banagh and Thompson in Fortunes of War (1987) and Henry V (1989), while Smith worked with them both separately in the "Harry Potter" films. He and Smith also appeared opposite Laurence Olivier in (possibly separate) productions of "Othello", in which they played "Iago" and "Desdemonda", respectively. In the 1943 American production, those roles were played by then husband-and-wife José Ferrer and Uta Hagen.
Father-in-law of Anna-Louise Plowman.
Stepfather of Quinn Hawkins.
He was awarded the Knight Bachelor of the Order of the British Empire in the 1995 Queen's New Years Honours List for his services to drama.
Provided the voice of Aragorn in the acclaimed 1981 BBC Radio serialisation of The Lord of the Rings.
Variety Club of Great Britain Stage Actor Award for 1965 for his performances at the National Theatre, notably in Royal Hunt of the Sun and Trelawney of the Wells.
Considered for the roles of Fallanda, Bukosvky, Sir Percy and Dr. Armstrong in Lifeforce (1985).

Personal Quotes (10)

[on "The Method"] I once asked two old Russian actors about the Method, because I'd seen American actors in New York use their version of it and it was so awful, amateur and inept and stupid. And they said to me, "If you have a copy of ['Konstantin Stanislavski' 's] "My Life in Art" or "An Actor Prepares", just take it out and throw it in the river". If it was no use to them, it was certainly of no use to me.
[on "Hamlet"] It is undoubtedly the greatest part ever written, but it's so complex. You can't really play it, you just give an opinion of it.
One reason I've never chased after films is that once you become a film star, you can't really stop, because you have to be before the public's eye all the time. I wouldn't care for that. Also, in films the material can't be that good all the time. You have to make mostly bad films, or films that aren't frightfully good. That wouldn't interest me - not that I've ever been offered that opportunity.
[on comedian Sonnie Hale] A gross, unfunny person offstage and someone, on the whole, to avoid.
[on Tony Richardson] He convinced me (wrongly of course) that anyone can make a movie. All Tony Richardson ever did was come in and ask his cameraman what he should do . . . He was a useless, unpleasant creature.
Film acting is difficult to do properly. I remember I once said to George Cukor that I think it's as difficult to be Spencer Tracy as it is to be Laurence Olivier. He said, "Wrong, it's much more difficult to be Spencer Tracy".
[1993, to a journalist about to review his performance in "King Lear"] Enjoy the show, it gets funnier in the second half.
[on Laurence Harvey] An appalling man and even more unforgivably, an appalling actor.
[on Dame Thora Hird] An extremely adroit, skillful actress--John Osborne's favorite actress, for what that's worth--with an extraordinary ability, rather like Maggie Smith, to twist on a sixpence from being terribly funny to terribly touching. She's a bit mawkish, sometimes, but a brilliant comedienne. The tops.
[on Anthony Hopkins] He has all those stutters, scratches and coughs and mini-splutters; it's always the same and it's awful. He's a much better actor than that, but these days he always seems to be doing the same irritating, mannered thing. He's forever coughing and spitting and winking and blinking.

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