Every country has its national icons, although people don’t always agree on exactly who has earned such an accolade. One person who may deserve to be labeled as such, however, is Rowan Atkinson. Whether it’s for his work in Blackadder or his career-defining performance as Mr. Bean, few British actors can rival him when it comes to laughs.
But while Atkinson is also quite private when it comes to his personal life, that doesn’t mean his time off screen is not newsworthy – quite the opposite, in fact. Why? Well, in 2017 the comedian revealed something that is sure to surprise many people due to his age…
They really don’t come much more naturally funny than Atkinson. Born near Newcastle, England, in 1955, the star has long had a penchant for making people laugh. And throughout his illustrious career, he’s used this ability to his advantage.
At first, though, Atkinson seemed to be going down a very different path by studying for a master’s degree in electrical engineering. Then he began to craft his very own comedy sketches. And following a stint at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, it became apparent that Atkinson had some real potential in his new chosen line of work.
And Atkinson’s big breakthrough came in 1979 with the advent of the satirical series Not the Nine O’Clock News – a program that helped to launch him into the upper echelons of British comedy. However, it was in 1983 when he really cemented himself as one to watch.
That year saw the creation of Blackadder, a British comedy that is still widely regarded as one of the best sitcoms of all time. And the BBC show grew to become a huge success, paving the way for Atkinson to get involved in some fairly different projects.
The performer then drew upon a character he had first imagined back in his university days to create Mr. Bean – an odd, socially awkward person who gets into all sorts of madcap mischief. And Mr. Bean turned out to be Atkinson’s most popular comic persona, with the creation appearing in live-action and animated TV shows as well as two feature-length films.
Yes, seven years after Mr. Bean originally aired, the Bean movie got its theatrical release. Since then, Atkinson hasn’t looked back, starring in films such as Johnny English and Keeping Mum. When it comes to the comedian’s personal life, though, things haven’t always been as successful…
In 1990 Atkinson wed make-up artist Sunetra Sastry, later having two children with her. However, after 25 years of marriage, they ended up getting divorced in 2015. And the split may not have been an entirely amicable one, either, as Sastry went through with the proceedings on the grounds of Atkinson’s “unreasonable behavior.”
Atkinson has also been in a relationship with actress Louise Ford – the woman whom he had been seeing for a year and a half before the end of his marriage. There is a considerable age gap between the pair, though, with Ford being 29 years Atkinson’s junior.
Ford and Atkinson had first encountered each other in 2012 while starring together in the play Quartermaine’s Terms. And after performing alongside each other in the London production, the couple eventually got together in 2014.
Then, in 2016 Ford moved into Atkinson’s North London cottage – seemingly a sign that they were taking things to the next level. And in 2017 it appeared that the couple had made an even bigger commitment, despite Atkinson now being in his senior years…
Yes, it was revealed in November that year that the then 62-year-old Atkinson was going to be a dad once more. The revelation came shortly after Ford was spotted out and about in North London while visibly pregnant; the child would be the first that the couple have had together.
Speaking to the Sunday People in November 2017, a source said of the news, “Rowan and Louise are over the moon and can’t wait for their new arrival. It’s a very happy time for them both.” And the baby came into the world swiftly after that; the child is said to have been born in December 2017.
But although Atkinson and Ford largely remained tight-lipped regarding the pregnancy, fans were more forthcoming. One Twitter user wrote, for instance, “Congratulations to Rowan Atkinson and his girlfriend #LouiseFord on their lovely baby news!! They’ll be excellent parents.” Another said, “Congratulations to Rowan Atkinson and his partner Lucy who are announcing they are expecting a baby.”
Perhaps it’s no surprise that the couple kept their news quiet, however, as in 2016 a source told The Sun, “Rowan and Louise are both incredibly private people.” Even so, the pregnancy announcement didn’t mark the only time that Atkinson has hit the headlines with regards to his family life.
You see, Atkinson’s daughter Lily also raised eyebrows in 2017 for deciding to use her mother’s maiden name. Lily’s choice to deactivate all of her social media accounts similarly made some waves.
Of the matter, a source told the Daily Mail in October 2017, “It’s a real mystery. Atkinson has been Lily’s name all her life, but she’s now dropped it and is styling herself as Lily Sastry.” And while the reason for the radical change is unknown, some have speculated that it’s to do with Atkinson’s divorce from Lily’s mother.
The insider went on, “I hope [Lily] hasn’t fallen out with her dad. The divorce was really hard for everyone in the family.” Whatever the reason for the change of moniker, though, the burlesque dancer continues to be known as Lily Sastry to this day.
Meanwhile, Atkinson is gearing up for a third film in the Johnny English franchise, to be released in October 2018. In 2017 he even reprised his role as Mr. Bean in the Chinese movie Top Funny Comedian: The Movie – a film that has been labeled as China’s response to The Hangover.
And as for Atkinson’s relationship with Louise Ford? Well, even though the star is pretty protective of his private life, he did once say, “I like being alone, but most of the time I enjoy being with people I love.” If that’s the case, then the amount of time he spends around Ford must mean he’s truly taken with her.
So, while Atkinson may still face critics over the abrupt end to his marriage with Sastry, he appears to be intent on staying committed to his current partner. And with a new baby, he’ll be experiencing all that fatherhood has to offer again, too.