Rowan Sebastian Atkinson (born 6 January 1955) is an English comedian, actor and writer, famous for his work on the classic sitcoms Blackadder, The Thin Blue Line and, Mr. Bean as well as doing the voice-over for Zazu in The Lion King and as a British comic secret agent Johnny English. He has been listed as one of the 50 funniest acts in British comedy, and amongst the top 50 comedy acts ever in a 2005 poll of fellow comedians.
Rowan Sebastian Atkinson was born on the 6 January 1955, in Consett, County Durham, England. His parents were Eric Atkinson, a farmer and company director, and his wife Ella May, who married on 29 June 1945. He has two elder brothers, Rodney Atkinson, an economist who narrowly lost the United Kingdom Independence Party leadership election in 2000, and Rupert Atkinson.
Atkinson was raised Anglican. He was educated at Durham Choristers School, followed by St Bees School, and studied electrical engineering at Newcastle Univercity. He continued with an MSc at The Queens College Oxford, first achieving notice at the Edinbough Fringe Festival in 1976. At Oxford, he also acted and performed early sketches for the Oxford Univercity Dramatic Society (OUDS), the Oxford Review and the Experimenal Theatre (ETC), meeting writer Richard Curtis and composer Howard Goodell, with whom he would continue to collaborate during his career.
In 1976, Rowan Atkinson did a one off television series called Canned Laughter for ITV. He then went to do Not the Nine O'Clock News. After that, he played Edmund Blackadder in the popular Blackadder series from 1983 to 1989. Then, in 1990, Atkinson starred in Mr. Bean until 1995. He has also featured in a few adverts.
Atkinson also performed a sketch as a vicar at Prince Chales' Birthday show: We Are Most Amused.
Atkinson's film career started in 1983 when he played a supporting part in the James Bond film Never say Never Again. In 1994, he played a part in the popular film Four Weddings and a Funeral and played the voice of Zazu in The Lion King. Atkinson has continued to play supporting roles in other comedy films.
Rowan Atkinson played Mr. Bean in both Bean films - Bean - The Ultimate Disaster Movie and Mr. Bean's Holiday. In 2003, he played the title role in Johnny English, which was a big success. Atkinson has said that his appearance in Mr. Bean's Holiday may be last we see of mister. Bean.
Marriage and children
Atkinson got married at the Russian Tea Room in New York City, U.S., with Sunetra Sastry. The couple have two children, Benjamin Alexander Sebastian (born 1993) and Lily Grace Atkinson (born 1995), and live in England in the Northamptonshire village of Apethorpe, as well as the Oxfordshire village of Waterperry and London.
In June 2005, Atkinson led a coalition of the UK's most prominent actors and writers, including Nicholas Hytner, Stephen Fry and Ian McEwan, to the British Parliament in an attempt to force a review of the controversial Racial and Religious Hatred Bill — on the grounds that the bill would give religious groups a "weapon of disproportionate power" whose threat would engender a culture of self-censorship among artists.
In 2009, he criticised homophobic speech legislation, saying that the House of Lords must vote against a government attempt to remove a free speech clause in an anti-gay hate law.
With an estimated wealth of £100 million, Atkinson is able to indulge his passion for cars that began with driving his mother's Morris Minor around the family farm. He has written for the British magazines Car, Octane and Evo.
Atkinson also holds a UK LGV licence, gained because lorries held a fascination for him, and to ensure employment as a young actor.
A lover of and participant in car racing, he appeared as racing driver Henry Birkin in the television play Full Throttle in 1995. In 1991, he starred in the self-penned The Driven Man, a series of sketches featuring Atkinson driving around London trying to solve his car-fetish, and discussing it with taxi drivers, policemen, used-car salesmen and psychotherapists.
Atkinson's car collection is dominated by Aston Martins, including the DB7 Vantage used in Johnny English. His Aston Martin V8 Zagato, featuring a novelty registration plate, was driven by his character Ron Anderson in the film The Tall Guy. Atkinson was cited for speeding in the car, just as Jeff Goldblum's character was in the movie. He also received a driving ban as a result of the incident. He also races in his V8 Zagato, from which he escaped unhurt after crashing it into a barrier at an Aston Martin Owners Club event in Croft Circuit in 2001. He is reported to have placed an advanced order for a Morgan Aero Max, which costs £110,000.
Atkinson has raced in other cars, including a Renault 5 GT Turbo for two seasons for its one make series. He owns one McLaren F1, which was involved in an accident with an Austin Metro. Other cars he owns include an Audi A8, and a Honda Civic Hybrid.
The Conservative Party politician Alan Clark, himself a devotee of classic motor cars, recorded in his published Diaries this chance meeting with a man he later realised was Atkinson while driving through Oxfordshire in May 1984: "Just after leaving the motorway at Thame I noticed a dark red DBS V8 Aston Martin on the slip road with the bonnet up, a man unhappily bending over it. I told Jane to pull in and walked back. A DV8 in trouble is always good for a gloat." Clark writes that he gave Atkinson a lift in his Rolls Royce to the nearest telephone box, but was disappointed in his bland reaction to being recognised, noting that: "he didn't sparkle, was rather disappointing and chetif." He also owns a Mercedes-Benz 600 . One car Atkinson will not own is a Porsche: "I have a problem with Porsches. They're wonderful cars, but I know I could never live with one. Somehow, the typical Porsche people — and I wish them no ill — are not, I feel, my kind of people. I don't go around saying that Porsches are a pile of dung, but I do know that psychologically I couldn't handle owning one."