‘Disney’ factor keeps character popular: Actor
Said in a deep, guttural tone, the name is universal, and would surely cause the ears of comedy fans the world over to perk up in reaction.
It is, of course, the preferred introductory line of Rowan Atkinson’s utterly silly and remarkably successful character Mr. Bean.
It’s also one of the few things, besides the odd mumbled line, that Atkinson’s creation has ever uttered in his 14 British television appearances or in two feature films.
The film, following the box-office success of 1997’s Bean, follows his quest to find sun and sand on the beaches of France but not before wreaking havoc throughout the French countryside while en route to the Riviera.
Atkinson attributes Bean’s strong international following to his timelessness and the context-less plot situations built around his attempts to handle everyday life in the most convoluted ways imaginable.
“I think there’s a Disney factor with Bean,” Atkinson explains during a recent interview in Toronto.
“Every 10 years, there’s a new batch of children coming along and in theory there’s no reason why the next batch can’t enjoy it as much as the last batch … At the same time, things go in and out of fashion and it would be foolish to think that the great Hollywood silent comedians like Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin would have the same appeal to a modern audience as they had in 1917.”
As he’s explained countless times before, Atkinson attributes the flexibility of the character to the fact that he’s essentially a “child trapped in a man’s body.” Not to mention being completely asexual and seemingly on the outskirts of everyday society looking in — minus any modicum of common sense.
“In the end, the essence of (Chaplin, Stan Laurel and Keaton’s) characters are those of children — vulnerable, naïve, immature, romantic, ambitious, anarchic, quite vindictive, quite nasty they can be. All those characteristics are there in Mr. Bean.”
- Mr. Bean’s Holiday opens in theatres today.