Mr. Rochester is a hard role for an actor to play. He must be, in equal parts, fearsome, winsome, tormented, provocative, intimidating and charming. The perfect Byronic hero, riddled with secrets and doubts, a living portrait of frustrated idealism.
If I may say so, Toby Stephens has proven himself up to the task.
This week we watched the most beautiful movie version of Jane Eyre I’ve ever seen. It was a BBC production starring not only Toby Stephens as the enigmatic Mr. Rochester, but Ruth Wilson as a richly nuanced Jane. Her performance really captured Jane’s moral courage, her passionate nature, and her evolution from an intimidated child to a confident and empowered woman.
“They spoke almost as loud as Feeling: and that clamoured wildly. ‘Oh, comply!’ it said. ‘. . . soothe him; save him; love him; tell him you love him and will be his. Who in the world cares for you? or who will be injured by what you do?’
Still indomitable was the reply: ‘I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself. I will keep the law given by God; sanctioned by man. I will hold to the principles received by me when I was sane, and not mad—as I am now. Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation . . . They have a worth—so I have always believed; and if I cannot believe it now, it is because I am insane—quite insane: with my veins running fire, and my heart beating faster than I can count its throbs.”
Is it any wonder that I’m feeling so swoon-y lately?