It's hard to know what to expect when one comes face-to-face
with a man who has made a living doing strange things with face
and body, a real clown. Rowan Atkinson, in Australia for the
worldwide launch of his farcical Bean movie, is impeccably
attired in dark blue suit, with an air of quiet pensiveness.
There's no hint of the anarchic and sardonic comic performer that
one associates with the 41-year old Atkinson.
Bean began life as a visual sketch on stage, and two decades
later his creator, Atkinson, has given him a presence on the big
screen, having been determined to be rid of him on the small
"I was bored with what
we were doing with the TV series,"
"I was bored with what we were doing with the TV series,
and felt that there was nowhere for him to go, even though I
think the character had developed slightly throughout the series.
It therefore seemed like a natural extension to THINK about a
film." It was by no means one of those instant sessions
where a movie version of Bean was put into place with assured
"It took us quite a number of years of throwing around
ideas until we reached the point of the movie we ultimately made.
We felt as though we needed to put him in a very different
environment to that in the television show." The environment
in question is Los Angeles, no less, where Bean is mistaken for a
brilliant art expert. "Setting the movie in Los Angeles gave
us all a whole new creative impetus, which was absolutely
necessary, so that we could be BOTHERED to make the film."
"Oh, they were all mad
keen to be in it and managed to tune in on our
Though some cynics might argue that setting the Bean film in
LA was as much to do clever marketing than creative aesthetics,
Atkinson says; "It would be wrong to claim that it was a
disadvantage from the marketing point of view, but it certainly
wasn't the main motivation to set it there." And it wasn't
hard persuading Atkinson's American co-stars, such as ex-Chicago
Hope's Peter MacNicholl, to get into Bean's swing of things.
"Oh, they were all mad keen to be in it and managed to tune
in on our wavelength."
It was also essential for both the sake of Atkinson's own
creative processes as well as audiences, to do something
different with Bean, to make him more of an accessible big-screen
character, apart from sending him to the City of Angels. With
that comes more depth and growth. "In doing a movie with a
narrative structure, you NEED to have a character who develops
and sort of acknowledges what's going on around him." Which
could be a danger if fans of the series expect the selfish and
consistently self-obsessed Bean to materialise in the movie.
"We'll have to see if they accept or reject it. I think
anyone who enjoys the character should enjoy his development and
extension. I think if we'd LEFT him as relentlessly,
uncompromisingly self-centred as he always has been and someone
who completely ignores the effects that his actions have on
others, I think he would have come over as a rather unreal and
dull character after 90 minutes. That's why we felt he HAD to
have his own curve, there had to be highs and lows and a degree
of ACCEPTANCE on his part, of responsibility for his own
"As for another Bean
adventure, who knows? Never say never is what I say."
So is this finally the end of the self-destructive Mr Bean? Mr
Atkinson? "I have no doubt that after he sets foot outside
of Los Angeles, he'll revert to his same old ways. As for another
Bean adventure, who knows? Never say never is what I say."