Surviving 2020

by Táranis

It seems that I discovered Toby the same way many people are doing it these days. The COVID situation exploded and all of a sudden I found myself quarantined, alone and with a lot of free time on my hands. So I decided that I might as well make some progress with my to-watch list. This is an actual list, where I write down all the TV shows and movies I want to watch at some point. There are hundreds of them, I have no idea why I felt like watching precisely Black Sails. Looking at it in retrospective, it feels like it was one of those things the universe throws at you right when you need them the most. 

I’ve commented on this before, I absolutely love the masterpiece that Black Sails is as a whole. Watching it was life changing as a viewer on every level, and it doesn’t look like any other show is going to come close to that amount of greatness. Characters, acting, plot, writing, symbolism, the list goes on and on. Every aspect of it was outstanding. 

But amidst all of this, Toby Stephens really stood out for me. Of course, there are plenty of wonderful actors and actresses whose work I’ve really enjoyed over the years, but I’ve always been kind of casual about it. I might think that an actor/actress has done a fantastic job in a movie for instance, that they have been convincing, moving, fun, whatever, while I’m watching the work or afterwards. But then I don’t tend to have further thoughts about them until I encounter the person again on the next watch, normally not on purpose.


Things went differently with Toby. The impression he made on me the moment he first appeared on screen was incredibly strong. There was something about him and about his acting, an intensity and emotion unlike anything I have encountered before. Throughout the show, his portrayal of Flint made me feel so, so much. I don’t think I had ever rooted for a character in such a way. I was in awe at his expressiveness, the way he conveyed so many emotions at the same time. There was something that felt so powerful and deep about his performance. I’ve heard him say in interviews that by the end of season 4 he was physically and mentally exhausted, and I’m not surprised. After finishing the show even I needed some time to recover from all that intensity of emotions, from being on the edge of my seat the whole time. Flint was a brilliantly written character, but I think Toby took him to a whole different level. I mean, on more than one occasion I found myself having literal goose bumps on my arms. For me it was something out of this world. 

Naturally, even before I had finished watching Black Sails, I was possessed by the idea of watching as much of his filmography as I possibly could. I just wanted more of him giving me all the feelings. And I had a look at his filmography and it all looked so good I couldn’t believe it. It had such variety of characters and works, even audio books and audio dramas and so many of them that I felt like a kid walking into a candy store. I’m still making my way through it all, I like to take my time and enjoy each thing in depth. But from what I have seen so far, I can confirm that Toby does it for me every time, one way or another. I’m always incredibly invested in his characters and enchanted by his performance. 

As part of what I was saying before about enjoying each of Toby’s works in depth, I always try to find additional material available online: interviews, behind the scenes, etc. And I have come to admire the work that goes into what he does. It’s a delight to hear him dissect his characters, analyze their psychology and motivations and kind of put himself in their shoes with so much empathy. And to top things off, I know I don’t know him personally, but he’s grown so, so much on me as a person as well. 

So, with all this going on over the past few months, I’ll always be grateful to Toby. Because he helped me so much during these dark and difficult times, keeping me happy and entertained. I have to make a special mention to Lost in Space when I talk about this. In the midst of the pandemic I had my own health issue (which fortunately turned out to be nothing serious and it has been mostly resolved by now, but I had a couple of scary months until I found out what the problem was) and watching Lost in Space was a huge source of comfort. At night I could go to bed replaying my favourite scenes in my head instead of overthinking my problems, which only made them worse. 

Now I plan to continue watching Toby’s filmography and enjoy every second of it. And I hope to be able to fulfill soon what has become one of my dreams, to watch him act live on stage. I’m also very happy to have started to share my love for him with all of you, his wonderful family of fans. And I look forward to having more chats about it all!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published