The son of Dame Maggie Smith and the late Sir Robert Stephens, Toby Stephens was to the theatrical manor born. An accomplished actor in his own right, Stephens, who bears a distinct resemblance to his mother, was born in April of 1969. After his parents' divorce when he was four years old, Stephens and his brother (actor Chris Larkin) grew up traveling back and forth across the Atlantic with their mother for her numerous acting engagements.
After training at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, Stephens began his professional career as a stagehand at the Chichester Theatre Festival. He had his film debut with a bit part in Sally Potter's 1992 adaptation of Orlando, but it was on the stage that he first made a name for himself. At the age of 25, Stephens won a Sir John Gielgud Best Actor Award and an Ian Charleson Award for his title role in the Royal Shakespeare Company's 1994 production of Coriolanus. He went on to perform in a number of plays with the RSC, including Measure for Measure, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Antony and Cleopatra.