Rowan Atkinson: Mr Bean star admitted James Bond film ‘not fine because of my performance’

Rowan Atkinson stars in 'Johnny English Strikes Again'

Atkinson is back on screens tonight in a new show celebrating the 30th anniversary of his most iconic creation, Mr Bean. The special will see the likes of writer Richard Curtis, and Atkinson himself, explore how the comedy and Mr Bean became one of the world’s most loved programmes. The star became a household name in the Eighties and Nineties for his appearances as Mr Bean, as well as leading roles in sitcom Blackadder and sketch show Not the Nine O’Clock News.

He has consistently earned critical acclaim for his comedic roles, and more recently has matched this with commercial success, courtesy of the blockbuster franchise centring on bumbling secret agent Johnny English.

But reflecting on one of his roles, the now-66-year-old admitted to frustration over his character Nigel Small-Fawcett in the unofficial James Bond film Never Say Never Again.

Starring opposite the legendary Sean Connery, Atkinson offered light comic relief for his portrayal of Small-Fawcett – a Foreign Office representative in the Bahamas.

Atkinson secured the role at the age of 27 in 1983, in what was his major film role.

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He described being given the role as “an extraordinary thing”, and recalled the excitement he felt as he was “in first class on a British Airways flight on my way to shot a Bond movie”.

Yet, it’s one of his appearances that he regrets move, detailing his frustration 35 years on.

He told The One show in 2018D: “Sean Connery was very sweet and the film was fine. Actually it wasn’t very fine in my opinion, because of my performance in it.

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“It’s one of those things that you do when you’re very young and you think this is the way to do it and when I look at it now I think, ‘Hmmm no, I wish I had done something a little different’.”

Connery returned to the role as Bond for a final time, 12 years after he left the franchise in his sixth film as the secret agent Diamonds Are Forever.

The Scottish star famously walked off set declaring he had “always hated that damned James Bond”, adding in 1971: “I’d like to kill him.”

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Reflecting on reprising the role, Connery said his wife Micheline Roquebrune played a key part in making the Highlander star consider going back to Bond.

In an interview with the Daily Sentinel at the time of the film’s release, Connery said his wife told him there was little risk in taking the role again.

He added: “The more I thought about it, the more I thought she was right. There was also a certain amount of curiosity in me about the role, having been away from it so long.”

Atkinson would go on to star in more feature films, including Four Weddings and a Funeral, and Love Actually.

He also made two Mr Bean films, before reprising the character as part of the London 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony.

His popularity was best demonstrated after Mr Bean amassed more followers on Facebook than popstar Justin Bieber, but the character’s success “never surprised” Atkinson.

He added: “Watching an adult behaving in a childish way without being remotely aware of his inappropriateness is fundamentally funny.

“The fact the comedy is visual rather than verbal means it has been successful internationally, too.”

Happy Birthday Mr Bean is on ITV tonight from 8pm.

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