Toby Stephens to tackle his father’s role in West End play

Smith and Stephens won rave reviews for their turn as sparring ex-lovers in a 1972 London production of Noel Coward’s Private Lives, and now their son is following in their footsteps.

The Die Another Day star will play the role his father tackled more than 40 years ago, opposite Anna Chancellor, in a new West End production, which will open at London’s Gielgud Theatre in June (13).

Toby reveals he talked to his mother, Downton Abbey star Smith, about the part because she worked with Coward, and she gave her approval after seeing the show during its first run in Chichester, England last year (12).

He tells the London Evening Standard newspaper, “She worked with Noel Coward so obviously that’s a touchstone for me. It’s very rare to meet people who met him. He directed her in Hay Fever and was around when she was in Private Lives. She is (sic) closer to him than most people… It’s a great play. It’s a coincidence my parents did it. But I was happy that when she came to see it, she was very moved by it and really loved the production.”

Numerous high-profile stars have tackled the lead roles in Private Lives over the years, including Dame Elizabeth Taylor and her on/off husband Richard Burton.