I knew my traveller with his broad and jetty eyebrows; his square forehead, made squarer by the horizontal sweep of his black hair. I recognised his decisive nose, more remarkable for character than beauty; his full nostrils, denoting, I thought, choler; his grim mouth, chin, and jaw--yes, all three were very grim, and no mistake. His shape, now divested of cloak, I perceived harmonised in squareness with his physiognomy: I suppose it was a good figure in the athletic sense of the term--broad chested and thin flanked, though neither tall nor graceful.
"You examine me, Miss Eyre," said he: "do you think me handsome?"
I should, if I had deliberated, have replied to this question by something conventionally vague and polite; but the answer somehow slipped from my tongue before I was aware--"No, sir."
He rose from his chair, and stood, leaning his arm on the marble mantelpiece: in that attitude his shape was seen plainly as well as his face; his unusual breadth of chest, disproportionate almost to his length of limb. I am sure most people would have thought him an ugly man; yet there was so much unconscious pride in his port; so much ease in his demeanour; such a look of complete indifference to his own external appearance; so haughty a reliance on the power of other qualities, intrinsic or adventitious, to atone for the lack of mere personal attractiveness, that, in looking at him, one inevitably shared the indifference, and, even in a blind, imperfect sense, put faith in the confidence.
And yet, Hollywood (okay, the BBC, really) persists in portraying Mr. Rochester with the hottest hotties that hotted. Like Toby Stephens.
Toby as Rochester
Toby in another costume drama
Also, don't you think Toby should totally play Damian Lewis's brother sometime?
Actually, I lied. Hollywood does an okay job at not finding the hottest hotties that hotted for the rest of the Rochesters. But they have yet to find anyone actually ugly for the role. I think Orson Welles comes closest:
The forehead is so right! And he's not... chiselly. The way Toby is. And his eyes are skeery.
I disapproved of moon-faced Ciaran Hinds in this role, though I'm looking at the pics and thinking: you-gly.
Ciaran as Rochester.
Really hilariously ugly Ciaran as Rochester.
Quick! Antidote! Caesar!
And a pint of Wentworth, stat!
And John Hurt is far too blond. And let us not speak of Timothy Dalton. He was up there way past Toby Stephens in the classically handsome land, though not personally to my taste.
So I started to really think: what DID Rochester look like?
Nah. I probably only think that because of Orson Welles.
Mr. Rochester was Charlotte Bront;ë's weird mish-mash of (certainly) her youthful fantasies based on Lord Byron and (probably) the married man she fell in love with while at school in Brussels, Constantin Heger (also, her teacher). The physical descriptions of Heger and Rochester are pretty much a match, and Heger didn't mind reducing Charlotte to tears in the course of teaching her, which, okay, somehow fits with Rochester in my mind.
So. Rochester is basically built like a wrestler, or... something. And looks like Heger. Ish. So....
(And people think Toby Stephens oversneers.)
Yes, that's professional wrestler Hunter Hearst Helmsley.