Rowan Atkinson: biography
The name of Rowan Atkinson is inseparably connected with the well-known and favorite character – Mr. Bean, the hero of the same-name series. This role has brought to the British comedian-actor world popularity and also the army of devoted admirers all around the world. His unusual and memorable appearance equally with his unforgettable mimics has made him one of the most recognizable stars.
However, the actor considers himself to be a calm and dull person. For him, all this bravado is just a game.
"People mistakenly consider that I can make them laugh on the stage or during personal communication."
Childhood and youth
Rowan was born in a big family on the 6th of January, 1955 in a small mountain town of Consett. His parents weren't engaged in the sphere of television or theatre stage. His father Eric worked on the farm, and his mother Ella May helped her spouse to bring up their three children. Already in childhood, the boy had unique mimics with which he could make laugh practically everybody what he practiced at school. Here he was considered to be the major joker and clown what made Rowan one of the most famous and memorable pupils.
At the age of eleven years, Rowan was transferred to prestigious Durham Choristers School. At that time the future prime minister of Great Britain Tony Blair was studying here. Later the actor changes his previous school for the private St. Bees School, situated in the north-west of England. At this school, much attention was paid to different sports lessons during which Atkinson felt rather uncomfortable. His physical shape was far from athletic, and he got quickly tired with the sports training.
His schoolmates quite often mocked at this weak guy and then Rowan decided to use it in his favor. In the changing room, the future comic parodied the teachers. In such a way he turned the mockery into the pure and sincere admiration of the children by his comedian talents. Thus, the young man managed to mask his shame which he felt because of his helpless state in the sport. He tried to deserve the respect of his peers.
Upon the completion of the studies at the college the future actor began to feel awkward for his teenage mockery and became introverted and serious modest guy. Atkinson even didn't think of the career on the stage. He was seriously thinking about the prospects of the scientific career. Rowan entered Newcastle University on the faculty of Electrical Engineering. The comedian enjoyed studying physics since childhood and remembered the long formulas without any difficulties through the majority of students with humanitarian mentality had problems with it.
The technical science always came easily to the actor that's why after the completion of the studies at the university Rowan was invited to Oxford where he had to write the Doctoral Theses. During the studies the actor got acquainted with remarkable people: the writer Richard Curtice and the composer Howard Goodall who have become his best friends and colleagues in his future career.
Atkinson became engaged in the dramatic arts and comics when he was the student of the second course. He just got to the right company which didn’t imagine their life without the stage. He became the participant of Experimental Theatre Club (ETC) and Oxford University Dramatic Society (OUDS). His comic sketches gained huge popularity at the students and teachers. This allowed Rowan to win at a couple of comedy festivals without taking lots of efforts. The actor wrote the scripts in co-authorship with his friend Curtice who also in the future achieved remarkable progress in the movie industry.
After the comic had received the Master’s degree as a member of Etceteras theatrical group he went to England on tour.
In a short time, Rowan gained popularity of the rising star of the comedy sphere of Great Britain. The radio show under the simple title The Atkinson People became the first step to the world glory. Rowan's friend and colleague Richard Curtice became the co-author of the actor one more time. The satirical interviews allegedly taken by Rowan from the imagined characters were highly demanded at the listeners.
Atkinson got on the television due to another comedian - Dave Angus. Their joint performance was shot with the camera and was demonstrated in one of the shows. Later, the actor was offered to shoot his program Not the Nine O'Clock News produced by John Lloyd. It wasn’t without his old friends. Howard Goodall became the composer and composed wonderful music for this show, and Richard Curtice created a couple of episodes for this movie. This sketch show was released in October of 1979 and at once became extremely popular in Great Britain.
After the successful debut on television, the actor received the invitation in the medieval comedy The Black Adder featuring Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry. Due to the role in this movie, Atkinson became one of the most popular comics in England.
Rowan appeared in front of the TV viewers in the role of Edward, Prince Edmund Plantagenet. Before the shooting, the performer of the part even didn't imagine how would look like and sound his personage. Almost all Edward's mimics and movements in the pilot episode of the sitcom were a complete improvisation which turned out to be rather successful. He also had to cut his hair at the fashion of that period.
The comic has gained world recognition after his debut role of Mr. Bean who first appeared on the screen in 1989 the New Year's half-hour release of Thames TV channel. Right after the New Year there was released the full-length same-name series, Mr. Bean. Rowan has imagined his character still being a student of Oxford University. He appeared in this image for a couple of times at the festivals.
In his working process, the actor paid much attention to the mimics and plasticity of the character as Bean almost doesn't have dialogues and speaks very seldom. This role has helped Atkinson to move forward within the borders of Great Britain and to interest the public far beyond his native country.
During five years the whole world was watching the adventures of Mr. Bean. Each episode of the series attracted more than two millions of spectators. The incredible success of the series allowed to create the full-length movie which came out on the screen in 1997 under the title Mr. Bean. The actor repeatedly appeared in the image of the most famous character in numerous shows and TV projects, delighting the spectators with his vivid and bright performances.
However, Rowan began to be tired of the image of Bean and announced that the movie Mr. Bean's Holiday would become the latest appearance in this image. The film was released in 2007 and at first, was displayed on the territory of Russia.
In the picture Rat Race famous comedians John Cleese, Whoopi Goldberg, Seth Green, and Jon Lovitz played together with Rowan Atkinson. This cheerful company of the actors took part in the races for $2 million which were stored in the locker of the provincial town situated 700 km from the starting point. The owner of the casino has organized the totalizator for the public to entertain the wealthy clients.
In 2003 there was released the comedy Johnny English in which the actor changed his image of Mr. Bean and played the role of the British intelligence agent - Johnny English. The picture was a comic parody on the movies about James Bond, the well-known cinematic spy. The movie was successful, and Rowan got the prize of European Film Awards for Best Actor. In 2011 there came out the sequel under the title of Johnny English Strikes Again.
In 2012 Atkinson again played the role of the cult character at the opening ceremony of Summer Olympic Games. Here in the comedy sketch, he was playing the synthesizer at the performance accompanying to the song Chariots of Fire, playing on only one key. After the Olympic Games Rowan gave an interview in which he announced the termination of Mr. Bean’s career. By the words of the actor, the role was difficult for him especially in the physical aspect, as his character has incredibly vivid mimicry.
Rowan visited Moscow in 2015, and he noted that only then when Mr. Bean became the man of average years, he understood better how to perform his role "than 25-35 years ago when they only began".
The actor was confused that the 50-year-old man was behaving like a child. However, this didn’t prevent Rowan to voice-over the character in the animated series released in 2014 and to play the role of Bean in Snickers advertisement.
During the shootings, Atkinson who is 181 cm tall and who is flexible was most of all afraid of stepping on the roof. Even 2-meter height made the actor get nervous, and he only calmed himself with the fact that his professional team would insure him at the right moment.
In 2016 Atkinson enriched his filmography with the movie the main character of which is not a private detective who makes you smile. The film Maigret was shot by the series of the novels of the Belgian writer Georges Simenon about the commissioner of the crime police. Critics have given controversial feedback to Rowan’s acting in this role. The actor himself was delighted with the participation in this project as he was fond of the stories written about Maigret and dreamed of finding himself in the atmosphere of Paris of the fifties.
Though, Atkinson didn’t accept the first invitation for this role having reflected over it during three months. He thought that he wouldn't get into his character which was embodied many times before him. Moreover, the detective genre in which the actor wasn't comic frightened him a little bit. Bu, the film crew including the writer's son John Simenon, was waiting for Rowan during a year.
The commissioner Maigret is a unique character of the British actor who could spend the whole day in the car but never drove the car. This fact disappointed Atkinson very much. Moreover, the fan of car racing was forbidden to take part in such dangerous events during the time of the shootings.
Rowan jokes quite often that he prefers not to give interviews as the journalists ask him questions about his personal life all the time. Unfortunately, Rowan’s private life is not so saturated in events in comparison with Mr. Bean's private life. In his young years, the actor suffered from the stutter. It was especially difficult for him to pronounce the words starting with the letter B. With time his speech impediment has improved for better but Atkinson is still considered to be unsociable.
During some time Atkinson had relationship with Leslie Ash, but then they broke up. In the late eighties, the comic got acquainted with the makeup artist Sunetra Sastry who was working on the BBC TV channel. Their relations were developing promptly, and in 1990 they got married. At first, they celebrated their wedding rather modestly in the family circle and later held a remarkable wedding ceremony in the center of London. They invited 80 people to their wedding.
In this marriage two children were born in the family - a daughter Lily Grace and a son Benjamin Alexander Sebastian. The girl has followed in the footsteps of her father and has performed some secondary roles in Rowan's movies. Though finally she has become a singer and performed soul in London clubs.
In 2013 Rowan filed the documents for divorce, and soon he began to appear in a company of Louise Ford. They got acquainted last year during the performance in West End Theater in the play under the title Quartermaine's Terms. In 2015 the actor officially divorced with Sunetra, and in a month he invites Louise to live together in a country house. There is no information whether Ford became the lawful life of the actor and how they called their son who was born in December of 2017.
Atkinson has a weakness for exclusive cars and races. Once he was writing articles for the specialized magazines. In the 2011Rowan by the miracle survived when he got it up to 240 miles/hour on McLaren F1 worth £650 thousand and crashed into the tree.
In his motor pool, the movie star has BMW 328 and Aston Martin Virage, Rolls-Royce and Morris Traveller, hybrid Honda Civic and Mercedes-Benz 500E. The car of Aston Martin DB7 Vantage brand which was driven by the character in the movie Johnny English also belongs to the actor.
Atkinson doesn’t have personal accounts in the social networks. There are some fan pages on Instagram and Twitter. Here there are published Rowan’s photos in the image of Mr.Bean. Perhaps, such ignoring of the web can be explained by human permissiveness and impunity which disrupt the inner peace. So, in 2016 the actor became the victim of the cruel prank: on Facebook, there was published the announcement about his suicide.
The serious edition The Sun had to stand up for the movie star and to deny this evil joke. However, it’s not the only "death" case in Atkinson’s biography. Fortunately, each time is false.
Rowan Atkinson at present
In 2018 the British actor continued to film in the story about the superspy Johnny English. And as the movies of this series is a parody on the well-known fighter about James Bond, the authors of Bondiana Robert Wade and Neil Purvis also took part in the creating of the script. The picture has received the title Johnny English Strikes Again.
This time the agent English with his assistant performed by Ben Miller have to prevent the global web catastrophe. Emma Thompson plays the role of the prime minister of Great Britain who looks suspiciously similar in appearance to Theresa May. At her personal request, the agent who has already retired comes back on his secret service to help his colleagues as their secret of personality has been disclosed. Great adventures, dangerous challenges and humorous situations which are following the master of espionage all the time are waiting for the characters.
The connection between the movies about the agent 007 and his funny double "provides" the participation of the actress Olga Kurylenko who had already tried herself in the role of Bond's girlfriend in Quantum of Solace.
- 1983-1989 – The Black Adder
- 1990-1995 – Mr. Bean (series)
- 1994 – Four Weddings and a Funeral
- 1997 – Bean
- 2001 – Rat Race
- 2003 – Johnny English
- 2005 – Keeping Mum
- 2007 – Mr. Bean's Holiday
- 2011 – Johnny English
- 2016-2017 – Maigret
- 2018- Johnny English Strikes Again