Is one of the world’s most celebrated man-children finally growing up … and saying goodbye?
It looks like Mr. Bean fans may soon have to indulge their love of hijinks, pratfalls and shenanigans elsewhere, as Rowan Atkinson has announced that the time to retire the comedy character is nigh.
It’s somewhat ironic that, for Atkinson, playing a role that brings a smile to so many faces has actually become “a little sad.”
“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,” he 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.”
Mr. Bean, a character whom Atkinson developed while studying for his master’s degree at Oxford University, made his debut in the eponymous television series that ran for 14 episodes from 1990-1995. He was also the star of his own animated series that ran from 2002-2004 and two feature films, “Bean” (1997) and “Mr Bean’s Holiday” (2007).
Mr. Bean was initially described by Atkinson as being a “child in a man’s body,” a gleefully oblivious buffoon who somehow managed to navigate and overcome everyday (and sometimes more outrageous) challenges and obstacles through a mix of innocence and general cluelessness. The character, who rarely speaks, has been compared to roles played by Charlie Chaplin and those of other silent actors known for physical comedy and theatricality.
Atkinson admits that playing the well-meaning but bumbling clown has kept him from scoring more serious roles. He hopes to finally be seen in a different light as he prepares to make his “straight play” debut in a revival of Simon Gray’s “Quartermaine’s Terms” in London’s West End.
Well, at least we still have Pee-wee Herman, as Paul Reubens doesn’t seem to think there’s anything sad about an older man acting like a big kid.