The rubber faced comedian-actor Rowan Atkinson aka Mr Bean was born Rowan Sebastian Atkinson on January 6, 1955 in Consett, England. His parents were Eric Atkinson, a farmer and company director, and Ella May. He has two elder brothers, Rodney Atkinson, a euro-sceptic economist who narrowly lost the United Kingdom Independence Party leadership election in 2000, and Rupert Atkinson.
He was educated at Newcastle Royal Grammar School, Durham Choristers School, followed by St Bees School, and studied electrical engineering at Newcastle University. He continued with an M Sc at The Queen’s College, Oxford, where he was noticed for the first time at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1976. After university, Atkinson toured with Angus Deayton as his funny man in an act that was eventually filmed for a television show. After the success of the show, he did a one-off pilot for ITV in 1979 called Canned Laughter. Atkinson then went on to do Not the Nine O’Clock News, produced by his friend John Lloyd.
The success of Not the Nine O’Clock News led to his starring in the medieval sitcom The Black Adder, which he also co-wrote with Richard Curtis, in 1983. Atkinson’s other famous creation, the hapless Mr Bean, first appeared on New Year’s Day in 1990 in a half-hour special for Thames Television. The character of Mr Bean has been likened somewhat to a modern-day Charlie Chaplin. Several sequels to Mr Bean appeared on television in the 1990s, and it also made into a major motion picture in 1997. Entitled Bean, it was directed by Mel Smith, his former co-star from Not the Nine O’Clock News. A second movie was released in 2007 entitled Mr Bean’s Holiday.
He appeared as a hapless and error-prone espionage agent in a long-running series Barclaycard. His movie Johnny English was based on his character of this series. He continued to appear in supporting roles in successful comedies, like Rat Race, Scooby-Do, and Love Actually. Keeping Mum was a departure for Atkinson, starring in a straight role.
Atkinson’s style is often visually-based. This visual style, which has been compared to Charlie Chaplin, sets Atkinson apart as most modern television and film comedies rely heavily on dialogue, and stand-up comedy is mostly based on monologues. This talent for visual comedy has led to Atkinson being called ‘the man with the rubber face’.
From December 2008 to July 2009, Atkinson starred as Fagin in Cameron Mackintosh’s West End revival of Lionel Bart’s Oliver!, a musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist. On July 18, 2009, Atkinson left his role as Fagin and was succeeded by Omid Djalili. Atkinson’s performance has been captured on compact disc which was was released in March 2009.