Rowan Atkinson and Richard Curtis created Mr. Bean. The show was produced by Tiger Aspect and starred Atkinson himself as the title character. The sitcom comprises 15 episodes co-written by Atkinson, Curtis, and Robin Driscoll, with Ben Elton co-writing the pilot. But did you know how Rowan Atkinson tested his Mr. Bean character?
Rowan Atkinson first performed as Mr. Bean in front of a French-speaking audience in 1987 at the Canadian Just For Laughs festival. Atkinson insisted on performing for local French Canadians to see if Mr. Bean was amusing to a non-English audience and people who had never heard of him.
Mr. Bean’s Global Popularity
While Mr. Bean began by looking in the mirror, Atkinson decided to trust what he was doing with his face after that first successful performance at Oxford.
In the sketch the following Sunday, I just went through a whole lot of facial expressions. I’m not sure whether there was a particular narrative, a logic to it, but I did my best, and it certainly solicited laughter. But since then, I’ve hardly ever looked at my face. I hope it’s doing what I think it’s doing.Rowan Atkinson, Actor
(Source: Mental Floss)
The Non-Italian Mr. Bean
Before making his television debut, Atkinson performed the Mr. Bean character in front of an audience at the Just For Laughs festival in Montreal, Quebec. To ensure that the character’s near-silent comedy was translated, he requested to perform for a French-speaking audience rather than an English-speaking audience. (Source: Mental Floss)
Was He Always Supposed to be Called “Mr. Bean?”
Mr. Bean didn’t get his name until shortly before he debuted on television after production had already begun. He was going to be called Mr. White at first. The show’s creators then started tossing around some vegetable names, including Mr. Cauliflower, before settling on Mr. Bean. (Source: Mental Floss)
The Mind Behind the Character
Atkinson frequently refers to Mr. Bean as a child in a grown man’s body. In a 2003 interview with IGN, he described him as a natural anarchist. But, at the same time, Mr. Bean is a very self-contained character because he’s so introspective, selfish, and self-centered that there’s no need for another person in the scene to make him funny.
Mr. Bean was on hand for the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics in London in 2012, where he ushered in the games with a rendition of Chariots of Fire. (Source: Mental Floss)
When Did Mr. Bean Retire?
In a November 2012 interview with The Telegraph, Atkinson admitted that Mr. Bean’s time was coming to an end.
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. Apart from the fact that your physical ability starts to decline, I also think someone in their fifties being childlike becomes a little sad. You’ve got to be careful.Rowan Atkinson, actor
During a BBC World Service radio interview earlier this year, executive producer Peter Bennett-Jones said of Mr. Bean’s enduring appeal :
I don’t think anyone could have predicted quite how successful and long-lived it would be.” It’s hard to believe it’s been 25 years since we first went on the air on January 1, 1990. Mr. Bean has been very good to us all, so we adore him.Peter Bennett-Jones, Executive Producer of Mr. Bean
(Source: Mental Floss)
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