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Atkinson suggests Bean’s end in sight

Nov. 17: Rowan Atkinson, the actor, has admitted that he plans to abandon the comic character of Mr Bean in favour of more cerebral roles on the stage.

The 57-year-old acknowledged that the hugely successful creation had reaped many rewards but said middle-aged actors playing childlike roles risked appearing “a little sad”.

Atkinson is instead preparing to make his “straight play” debut as the lead in a West End revival of Quartermaine’s Terms by Simon Gray. “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 fifties being childlike becomes a little sad. You’ve got to be careful.”

Atkinson admitted that the huge success of Mr Bean, a bumbling buffoon who rarely speaks, had typecast him to a degree and made it difficult for people to see him in other roles. But he said he had rediscovered a love of theatre when playing Fagin in Oliver! in the West End in 2009 and felt “comfortable” in the medium.

The actor, who was lauded for his comic turn in the Olympics opening ceremony, bemoaned the lack of surprise afforded to television and film audiences subjected to ferocious digital marketing. He said Danny Boyle’s triumphant spectacle had succeeded because viewers had no idea what was about to happen. “In the modern media age we are rarely surprised by what we see,” he said.

 
 
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