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Retirement of Mr. Bean Live
In November 2012, it emerged that Rowan Atkinson intended to retire Mr. Bean. “The stuff that has been most commercially successful for me – basically quite physical, quite childish – I increasingly feel I’m going to do a lot less of,” Atkinson told The Daily Telegraph’s Review. “Apart from the fact that your physical ability starts to decline, I also think someone in their 50s being childlike becomes a little sad. You’ve got to be careful.” He has also said that the role typecast him to a degree. Despite these comments, Atkinson said in 2016 that he would never retire the character of Mr. Bean.
In October 2014, Atkinson also appeared as Mr. Bean in a TV advert for Snickers. In 2015, he starred alongside Ben Miller and Rebecca Front in a sketch for BBC Red Nose Day in which Mr. Bean attends a funeral.
In 2017, he appeared as Mr. Bean in the Chinese film Huan Le Xi Ju Ren. In October 2018, Atkinson (as Mr. Bean) received YouTube’s Diamond Play Button for his channel surpassing 10 million subscribers on the video platform. Among the most-watched channels in the world, in 2018 it had more than 6.5 billion views. Mr. Bean is also among the most-followed Facebook pages with 94 million followers in July 2020, “more than the likes of Rihanna, Manchester United or Harry Potter”.
Animated Mr. Bean
In January 2014, ITV announced a new animated series featuring Mr. Bean with Rowan Atkinson returning to the role. It was expected to be released online as a Web-series later in 2014, as a television broadcast followed shortly after.
On 6 February 2018, Regular Capital announced that there would be a fifth series of Mr. Bean: The Animated Series in 2019 (voiced by Atkinson). Consisting of 26 episodes, the first two segments, “Game Over” and “Special Delivery”, aired on 29 April 2019 on CITV in the UK as well as on Turner channels worldwide. All five series (104 episodes) were also sold to Chinese children’s channel CCTV-14 in February 2019.
Atkinson’s film career began with a supporting part in the “unofficial” James Bond movie Never Say Never Again (1983) and a leading role in Dead on Time (also 1983) with Nigel Hawthorne. He was in the 1988 Oscar-winning short film The Appointments of Dennis Jennings. He appeared in Mel Smith’s directorial debut The Tall Guy (1989) and appeared alongside Anjelica Huston and Mai Zetterling in The Witches (1990), a film adaptation of the Roald Dahl children’s novel. He played the part of Dexter Hayman in Hot Shots! Part Deux (1993), a parody of Rambo III, starring Charlie Sheen.
Atkinson gained further recognition as a verbally bumbling vicar in Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994, written and directed by his long time collaborator Richard Curtis), and featured in Disney’s The Lion King (also 1994) as the voice of Zazu the red-billed hornbill. He also sang the song “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” in The Lion King. Atkinson continued to appear in supporting roles in comedies, including Rat Race (2001), Scooby-Doo (2002), jewellery salesman Rufus in another Richard Curtis British-set romantic comedy, Love Actually (2003), and the crime comedy Keeping Mum (2005), which also starred Kristin Scott Thomas, Maggie Smith, and Patrick Swayze.
In addition to his supporting roles, Atkinson has also had success as a leading man. His television character Mr. Bean debuted on the big screen with Bean (1997) to international success. A sequel, Mr. Bean’s Holiday (2007), (again inspired to some extent by Jacques Tati in his film Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot), also became an international success. He has also starred in the James Bond parody Johnny English film series (2003–2018).