Thomas F. O'Neill
Living in Suzhou, China, I discovered that the actor Rowan Atkinson commonly known as Mr. Bean is extremely popular here. His short films are aired on some of China’s television networks and not to mention viewed online.
Occasionally, I will play one of his short films in my class not because I’m a huge fan of Mr. Bean. But, because my biggest enjoyment comes from hearing the laughter from my students.
Rowan Atkinson due to his popularity has reprised his iconic comedic role of Mr. Bean in a Chinese comedy film titled ‘Top funny comedian: The Movie.’
He has also been promoting the movie on stage, by playing his beloved character of Mr. Bean to packed audiences of children and adults, in Beijing.
Rowan has been seen with popular Chinese actors including Yue Yunpeng and Guo Degang. He was not only wearing his trademark tweet suit but also expressed the full-fledged Mr. Bean role that the Chinese viewers have grown to love.
Rowan Atkinson is loved throughout Asia but especially here in China. They refer to his Mr. Bean character as ‘the foolish Bean.’ Most of the excitement about this new film is due to the fact that Rowan hasn’t made a Mr. Bean film in ten years.
Rowan’s last Mr. Bean movie in 2007 called ‘Mr. Bean’s Holiday’ was a super hit in China as well. The movie is regularly aired on some of China’s television networks as a way of promoting the upcoming release of his new film.
The Chinese comedy actor Degang told a Chinese television audience about his experience working with Rowan on stage in Beijing. In his televised interview, he said that they were both confused on how to communicate with each other while performing due to a language barrier.
Degang said that he can’t speak English and Rowan is unable to communicate in Chinese. They have non-verbal signals in order to coordinate their on stage comedic routines but the audience is totally unaware of their verbal language deficiencies, he said jokingly.
vHe also went on to say that despite having no language in common. He and Atkinson could transcend the language barrier with humor.
He also went on to say that with facial expressions and gestures on stage they seemed to understand each other. It was really an interesting experience for them, he went on to say, which proves that comedy can transcend boundaries.
The Mr. Bean character says very little and the Chinese view him as a child in a grown man's body. Rowan Atkinson deploys the Mr. Bean character through considerable physical comedic talents and creativity.
The original Mr. Bean TV series reached UK audience figures of 18.74 million in the 90s, and was distributed to 245 territories worldwide, including China. But, Rowan Atkinson’s new movie will only be distributed in China’s movie theaters. But that won’t diminish Rowan’s worldwide appeal.
He recently announced that he will be reprising his role from ‘Love Actually’ in a new 'sequel' being produced for this year's Comic Relief.
Living here in Suzhou, China, I will have to go and check out the new Mr. Bean movie and see what all the Chinese hype is about. I will then get back to you with my Americanized opinion about the movie.
I suppose I can be described as a lukewarm fan of Mr. Bean. But, I do however, get immense pleasure hearing my students laugh at ‘the foolish Bean’ when viewing one of his short films.
Well until next time enjoy the rest of the spring season……
Always with love from Suzhou, China
Thomas F O’Neill
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Other articles, short stories, and commentaries by Thomas F. O'Neill can be found on his award winning blog, Link:
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