Rowan Atkinson was one of the founding members of the cult comedy show Not The Nine O’Clock News. Over the years Atkinson has won acclaim, and huge audiences, for his roles as Blackadder and Mr Bean. Now, he returns to the big screen in the Bond spoof ‚Johnny English’. You’re well known for your enthusiasm for fast cars. Were the car stunts part of the appeal of ‚Johnny English’? Unfortunately, because I’m in virtually every scene in the movie, I did very little of the car stunts that you see. I got to do other things, like dropping off an electric cable to grab the crown off John Malkovich’s head. It was something I thought I could do, even though I’m no good at heights. Whether I’ll attempt any stunts in future movies is extremely questionable. Your career is based entirely upon comedy. Do you have any yearning to take on a serious role? I’ve never felt any kind of need, or ambition, to play a serious role just for the sake of it. But there are many characters who are half serious and half funny, with different proportions of both. Even Johnny English is not an immediately ridiculous or silly character. He’s quite a seriously minded man, it’s just that he has failings that become obvious. And it’s out of the discrepancy between how good he thinks he is and how good he really is that the comedy comes. He’s not a terrible spy, it’s just that he’s not very good and he’s certainly not good enough to be Agent One – which is the job that he’s given in the film. Are you concerned that Johnny’s anti-French views will alienate our cousins across the Channel? I read a fantastic thing recently in a Spanish newspaper that said a quarter of French people wanted Saddam Hussein to win the war, which I thought was the most brilliant statistic. I love the French for things like that. They are so uncompromising in their view of the world, which is why they are such a fantastically rich source of comedy. They are so relentless and so clear in their view of things, and they won’t be shoved off that position by anything. What’s also good is that, generally speaking, making jokes about the French appears to be something that nobody really minds. The French don’t even care, they just go about their lives regardless.

www.bbc.co.uk/films/2003/04/07/rowan_atkinson_johnny_english_interview.shtml

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