Rowan Atkinson is forever admired for his iconic role as Mr. Bean. To this day, he remains one of the most recognizable faces in entertainment worldwide. In turn, the beloved comedian, screenwriter, actor, and director is now a millionaire–but how many millions does he have in the bank?
The English king of slapstick comedy began making a name for himself in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Atkinson got his comedic feet wet when he appeared on a British satirical sketch show with BBC. He later landed the lead role on Blackadder. With both roles, he became a well-known comedian, but it was Mr. Bean and the James Bond satire Johnny English that really put Atkinson on the global star map. In fact, both ultimately built his staggering and somewhat surprising fortune.
These days, Rowan Atkinson has retired his most famous characters, saying goodbye to Mr. Bean and Johnny English once and for all. But when you look at how much money his roles made him along the way, it’s safe to assume he can afford to retire.
Early Life and Career
Rowan Sebastian Atkinson, CBE, was born on January 6, 1955, in England. Growing up, his father was a farmer and his mother worked as a company director. He was the youngest of four sons. Atkinson attended Durham Choristers School with the future British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Rowan didn’t always have his sights set on becoming a professional actor. Instead, he enrolled at Newcastle University and began studying Electrical and Electronic Engineering. He stayed on that path much longer than many of his fans realize. In 1975, Rowan transferred to Queens College to continue his studies. He walked away from Oxford with a Master’s in Electrical Engineering three years later. But of course, his career as an engineer was not meant to be.
It was at Oxford that Atkinson began performing sketches and found his true calling. The following year, he tried his hand at acting and sketch writing professionally. He made his way to BBC Radio and quickly redirected his career trajectory forever. In 1979, he co-wrote and starred in the comedy series, The Atkinson People. His friend and fellow comedian Griff Rhys Jones produced it. Atkinson moved on to his next project the same year. He created a one-off pilot for London Weekend Television. It was called Canned Laughter and if you haven’t looked into it, you definitely should. Rowan took on three hilarious roles on the series.
But once he was well-known in the British comedy arena, it was his work on Not The Nine O’Clock News with BBC that would become the first real step towards mega fame.
Finding Fame and Fortune
Thanks to his work on BBC, he soon snagged the lead role of Edmund Blackadder in Blackadder. The historical sitcom had a solid four-season run from 1983 and 1989. It became one of BBC’s most beloved and successful sitcoms ever, in major part thanks to Atkinson’s growing appeal as a character actor and comedian.
Blackadder was the moment in Atkinson’s career where audiences and critics alike began realizing his star power. And he’d soon capitalize on that. In 2000, he ranked third on a list of “The 100 Greatest TV Characters” of all time for his role as Edmund Blackadder.
Around the time he signed on for Blackadder, he also found love and got married. Atkinson met makeup artist Sunetra Sastry while working at BBC in the 80s. They wed in 1990, had two children, bought multiple million-dollar properties, and stayed together as he continued building his comedy empire.
Atkinson’s most lucrative career move came in the 1990s. To this day, it remains his biggest claim to fame. When he introduced the world to Mr. Bean, his net worth began skyrocketing overnight.
Becoming Mr. Bean
From 1990 until 1995, Atkinson secured his fate as a household name and it only took 15 episodes of Mr. Bean to do it. As some fans know, Atkinson took his real-life struggles and applied them as character inspiration for the short-lived, but forever popular series. The actor has revealed that he grew up with a crippling and confidence-shattering stutter. Pulling from his own experience, Mr. Bean famously did not speak very often or very well on the series.
The role soon became Atkinson’s calling card. As noted by The Richest, Mr. Bean has been shown on more airlines than any other in-flight feature. It was a hit in more than 94 countries seemingly overnight. Most notably, Mr. Bean earned Atkinson about $9 million. Down the road, the name of “Mr. Bean” proved to be worth every penny, churning out several popular films in the late 1990s and early 2000s. First, he starred in Bean: The Ultimate Disaster debuted in 1997, Johnny English (2003), Keeping Mum (2005), and then Mr. Bean’s Holiday came out in 2007.
It wasn’t just moviegoers who couldn’t get enough of Mr. Bean at the time. Back then, it suddenly seemed everyone wanted to cash in on the success of his character. For a while, you couldn’t turn on a television set without seeing Atkinson reprising his most famous role, promoting something new, and making everyone laugh once again. Playing Mr. Bean, Atkinson appeared in tons of TV commercials and made several memorable film cameos. Officially, he was becoming a pop culture icon. And if you do a quick internet search, you’ll see Mr. Bean is just as popular today.
Believe it or not, the Official Mr. Bean YouTube channel has an ever-growing audience these days. Currently, it has more than 10 million subscribers and continues to be one of the most viewed channels on the planet. Mr. Bean on YouTube has billions upon billions of views every year.
Unsurprisingly, Atkinson has continued to bank off Mr. Bean over the years. Mr. Bean: The Animated Series was launched via ITV in 2014. In all fairness, it’s practically impossible for the actor to escape the hilarious and adored character he created. So why wouldn’t he make the most of it?
With that said, he’s had a successful film career beyond the mega-famous role. Perhaps his other biggest acting cred to date was Johnny English. The spy spoof film grossed $160 million worldwide. Throughout the 1990s, he also made supporting and bit appearances in The Witches, Hot Shots! Part Deux, and The Lion King. He took on a small role in 2003’s Love Actually as well.
Beyond TV and film, Atkinson has done some impressive work on the stage here and there. Most notably, he was an Olivier Award nominee in 2009 for his performance in a West End production of the musical, Oliver! Still, his work in film and television has proven to be the most profitable. And it continues to be.
Rowan Atkinson’s Net Worth
It’s not just his wildly successful acting career that helped Rowan Atkinson bring home the big bucks. In the late 1990s, Atkinson started his own production company and began working as a director. When Hinmeck was still in its heyday, Atkinson’s salary was unbelievable, especially since he was paying himself. By the late 1990s, Hinmeck was said to be raking in about $2.6 million a year. As noted by The Richest, Atkinson was reportedly making an over $1,700,000 cut annually.
On top of those figures, his major endorsement deals with companies like M&Ms and Barclaycard were valued in the millions back then. When you add it all up, Rowan Atkinson has an estimated net worth somewhere between $130 and $150 million as of 2021, and mostly thanks to his celebrity.
How He’s Spent His Millions
As one of the richest comedians of all time, Rowan Atkinson can do just about anything he wants with his millions. And so, he’s spent a significant and shameless stack of his fortune on lavish homes and fancy cars.
Following Rowan Atkinson and Sunetra Sastry’s separation in 2014, he sold their six-acre Waterperry estate for $3.3 million. Shortly after that, he moved into a $5.5 million cottage in London and began dating Louise Ford. Atkinson and Ford are still together. In 2016, they moved into a North London home reportedly worth over $6 million. The following year, they welcomed their daughter Isla into the world. His ex-wife, Sastry, still resides in the $29 million London home they once shared.
In addition to pricey properties, Rowan Atkinson has been known to drop millions on luxury cars over the years. He considers himself quite the collector, and rightfully so. His insanely expensive car collection includes an Aston Martin DB2, a vintage Ford Falcon, a Jaguar Mk7, a Honda NSX, a 1939 BMW 328, and a Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe. But he’s not one of those celebrities who just sits around admiring his hot wheels. No, no. Atkinson has been known to drive them all. And sometimes, very fast. As it turns out, Atkinson once snagged the “fastest celebrity driving time” title on BBC’s Hot Gear from Tom Cruise.
When he’s not shelling out millions on himself and his family, Atkinson has been known to be a pretty charitable guy. He’s contributed to organizations like Amnesty International, CAFOD, Charity Projects Entertainment Fund, Comic Relief, and Global Goals, to name a few big ones. He was also appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for “services to drama and charity.”
Needless to say, it still pays to be Mr. Bean.