Not all comedic actors make a fortune. But some do. Case in point, Rowan Atkinson. He might be lacking the ‘Greek God’ looks of your usual Hollywood star, but that’s not stopped him from achieving the same dizzying heights of fame and fortune. And what a fortune it is. By the latest reckoning of Celebrity Net Worth, Atkinson is currently sat on the whopping net worth of $150 million, making him one of the richest stars in Celebdom. But how did he do it? How did the son of a farmer manage to come about such a seriously huge sum of money? Sit tight, because you’re about to find out.
The Early Years
Atkinson was born the youngest of four brothers to Eric Atkinson, a farmer, and Ella May in County Durham, England, on 6 January 1955. A gifted academic, he won a degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Newcastle University before continuing his education at The Queen's College, Oxford. After graduating with an MSc in Electrical Engineering, he briefly flirted with the idea of pursuing a doctorate. But by that stage, the acting bug had already bit. His first foray into comedy came at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August 1976, but it was on the radio that he’d take his first steps to stardom. The Atkinson People premiered on BBC Radio 3 in 1979; as well as earning him national recognition, it also showed the world what could happen when you united Rowan Atkinson with the series co-writer (and future directing mega-star), Richard Curtis. At around the time he was making his name on the radio. Atkinson was starting to make strides on TV. After showing off his funny bone on Canned Laughter, he was offered a gig alongside Pamela Stephenson, Griff Rhys Jones and Mel Smith on Not the Nine O’Clock News. The show established him as one of the funniest and brightest new things of the day. It also paved the way for his next move – Blackadder.
Blackadder and Mr. Bean
In 1983, Atkinson took on the role of Edmund Blackadder in Blackadder. Written by Ben Elton and Richard Curtis, the historical comedy piece flopped on its first showing, but by the second series, it had found its feet. By the fourth and final series, it was a national institution. But while Blackadder turned Atkinson into a household name in his homeland, it was his other creation, Mr. Bean, that won him international acclaim. The hapless Mr. Bean first saw the light of day in 1990 during a half-hour special for Thames Television. Something about the character (who’s since been described as a modern-day Buster Keaton) captured the public imagination, with the subsequent series attracting widespread critical and public acclaim. As per Wiki, the series was eventually picked up in 245 territories worldwide, earning as much acclaim abroad as it had at home. It also managed to spawn an animated spin-off and two theatrical feature-length films… both of which proved huge money-makers for both its writers and its star, with the first Mr. Bean film generating over $250 million at the box office on an $18 million budget.
Atkinson might have made his name on TV, but’s he not exactly been slow to capitalize on the earning potential of the big screen, either. His first film role came with an appearance on the James Bond movie, Never Say Never Again (1983). More roles soon followed, with some of his most notable performances during this period coming in Dead on Time (1983), The Appointments of Dennis Jennings (1988), The Tall Guy (1989), The Witches (1990), and Hot Shots! Part Deux (1993). But it was his appearance in Richard Curtis’s 1994 box office smash, Four Weddings and a Funeral, that really showed off his acting chops. His star turn as the bumbling vicar proved one of the film’s highlights, paving the way to more success in the likes of The Lion King (1994), Rat Race (2001), Scooby-Doo (2002), Love Actually (2003), and Keeping Mum (2005). By 2003, Atkinson was a bona-fide star. But things were about to get even better.
In 2003, fresh from the success of Love Actually, Atkinson bought the world Johnny English. A parody on the James Bond movies, Johnny English went down a storm both home and away, proving a game-changer for both Atkinson and his fortune. In 2011, the actor revisited the character in Johnny English Reborn. The second outing proved just as popular as the first; by the time of the third installment in 2018 (Johnny English Strikes Again), Johnny English could claim to be one of the film world’s most popular comic creations.As well as cementing Atkinson’s reputation as one of the finest comedy actors of his generation, the Johnny English franchise has also done wonders for his bank balance. The films have grossed £510 million ($618 million) at the box office on a relatively small budget, pulling in a big day for both its producers and its star.
When an actor achieves household name status, there’s one thing that can almost be guaranteed. Brands are going to want them. And brand’s most certainly want Atkinson. Over the past couple of decades, the likes of M&Ms, Snickers, and Nissan have all paid out big time for the privilege of having Atkinson appear in their commercials- something that’s no has done very little harm to the state of his bank account balance.
Atkinson is a man with luxury tastes. Over the past few decades, he’s splashed out millions on high-end sports cars, including a Jaguar Mk7, an Aston Martin DB2, a Ford Falcon, a Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe and a $1 million McLaren F1. But while he’s clearly a man that knows how to spend money, he’s also one that knows how to make it. That $1 million McLaren F1, for example, more than paid for itself when he sold it in 2015 for a whopping $12 million. He’s also one of the most gifted and popular comedy actors around, with a talent for knowing exactly what it is that makes people laugh and delivering it in spades. And that, in a nutshell, is how he wound up with a net worth of $150 million.
Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee