Dame Maggie Smith is a well-known, Oscar-winning actress with numerous film, TV, and theatre credits to her name. The London native married her fellow English actor Sir Robert Stephens on June 29, 1967, and they had two sons together, Chris and Toby.
Both men have become successful actors in their own right. Below we break down the careers and personal lives of Chris and Toby, from growing up in the shadow of their very famous mother to creating successful careers in the entertainment business.
Born June 19, 1967 in London, England, Chris Larkin is Maggie’s eldest son. Following in his parents’ acting footsteps, Chris created an illustrious film, television, and theater career for himself. After training at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, Chris went on to act in his first film in 1995, Angels & Insects. From there, he appeared in other films like 1996’s Jane Eyre, 1999’s Tea with Mussolini, and more, also starring in several TV series.
In 2001, Chris played Charles Darwin in the PBS docuseries Evolution and, in 2003, took on the role of Hermann Göring for the Canadian mini series Hitler: The Rise of Evil. He also appeared in the popular shows Doctor Who, Outlander, and Black Sails, a popular STARZ series about pirates that starred his younger brother! More on that later.
Some of Chris’ theater credits include Yes, Prime Minister, His Dark Materials, Noises Off, and The Lady From Dubuque, in which his mother played the starring role.
You may notice Chris has a different surname than his parents. That was a specific choice made by the actor, as he revealed to the London Times in 2013 how he wanted to distance himself from the family name so as not to “trade on the family connection.”
“[My father] never got the changing of the name,” Chris told the outlet. “He would go, ‘Why don’t you change it back?’ But that was the choice I made. And I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself if I had gone back on it. It would have been like admitting defeat… I’ve always been a fiercely independent soul.”
Chris, who changed his surname in reverence to his favorite poet, Phillip Larkin, added that there are “lots of people” in show business who have gotten their big break because of their parents, but “the challenge is to sustain it.”
Chris was married to Suki Stephens in 2005 and they have two children together.
Like his brother and his parents, Toby Stephens got bitten by the acting bug at an early age. Born April 29, 1969 in London, Toby was educated at Aldro School and Seaford College before attending the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. From there, the actor got his start as Othello in the 1992 film Orlando, going on to star in the leading roles in numerous television and stage projects, like Coriolanus, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Hamlet.
Toby continued growing his acting career by taking on other roles on screen, like Custer’s Last Stand, the BBC series Robin Hood, and Strike Back, heading back to the stage at different points as well as voicing characters like James Bond for a radio production of Dr. No.
Toby perhaps got his biggest break when he starred as Captain James Flint in the STARZ series Black Sails, a prequel to Treasure Island set in the “Golden Age of Piracy” in the early 18th century. He was also cast as former Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2016’s The Journey and as John Robinson in the Netflix remake of the 1965 TV series Lost in Space, which ran between 2018-2021.
The London native married the New Zealand actress Anna-Louise Plowman in 2001 and the two share a son, Eli, and two daughters, Tallulah and Kura.
On acting, Toby told the Associated Press in 2015, “People kinda go, ‘Oh, you’re an actor because your parents are actors,’ and you kinda go, ‘Well no … I’m my own person.’ I totally have my own career and I don’t see why I have to sort of qualify that all the time.”
He added, “My mother’s the same, she’s like, ‘Oh god, you’ll be stuck with that all the time.’ But at the same time, I’m immensely proud of her. I adore her and I adore her work. I’m staggered by it.”