Dame Maggie Smith's son changed his name when he became an actor because he didn't want to trade on his family connections.

Chris Larkin, who was born Christopher Stephens, admits he wanted to distance himself from his famous mother and his actor father, the late Sir Robert Stephens.

The Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World star chose his adopted last name in honour of his favourite poet - Philip Larkin.

He tells Britain's The Times newspaper, "I wanted to do it on my own. Robert, my father, was always trying to get me to trade on the family connection. He never got (understood) the changing of the name. He would go, 'Why don't you change it back?' But that was the choice I made. And I wouldn't have been able to live with myself if I had gone back on it. It would have been like admitting defeat... I've always been a fiercely independent soul...

"There are lots of people whose parents are in the business who might be able to say, 'Yes, I got my big break because of who my parents are'. Great. The challenge is to sustain it. And if you're not good, you'll be found out. The job is fairly brutal like that."