"It is as if God had an extra jar of comic talent and for a joke gave it to a nerdy, anoraked, northern chemist."
- Stephen Fry
Rowan Atkinson was born on the 6th of January 1955 in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, England, the youngest of three sons of Ella and Eric Atkinson.
During his childhood
he was always able to amuse his friends. When he was younger he did this by pulling strange faces in the locker room
, but soon he also started performing on stage.
He enjoyed performing skits by his idols, Buster Keaton
, Jacques Tati
, Charlie Chaplin
and Monty Python
, even though he preferred being in the background
, handling the lights.
Despite his obvious comic talents, he didn't want to seriously pursue a career in showbiz. He was a bright student and very interested in mechanics and engineering.
He received a B.Sc. in Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Newcastle University at the age of 20 and graduated with the highest marks of his year.
At Queen's College in Oxford he met English student Richard Curtis, with whom he started writing comedy shows. Curtis almost always performed as Atkinson's straight man.
One of these shows, "Beyond a Joke", was seen by John Cleese's agent, Richard Armitage, when they performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. He was very impressed by Atkinson's nonverbal acting and became his agent.
Atkinson's big break came in 1979, a few months after he got his M.Sc. in Engineering Science, when he performed in the "The Secrets Policeman's Ball" show along with most of the Monty Python stars.
His biggest success so far is the TV series "Mr. Bean", which has been shown in almost a 100 countries. This series really displays Atkinson's talent for nonverbal humour.
He lives with his wife Sunetra, whom he met on the set of Blackadder, in Oxfordshire. He enjoys cars (he owns a McLaren F1 sports car) and for his new year's eve, 1999 party he built an exact replica of the Millennium Dome in his garden.
And yes, Stephen Fry (actor from the Blackadder series, Atkinson's Best Man) got it wrong. Rowan Atkinson isn't a chemist.
Sources include http://www.rowanatkinson.org/ and http://www.geocities.com/TelevisionCity/Stage/1570/