Rowan Atkinson is one of the most recognizable comic actors around. In the movie “Johnny English Strikes Again,” out Friday, he returns for a third time as the blunder-prone British spy, seven years since the silly secret agent’s last appearance. This time out, Agent English is brought out of retirement to help bring down a dastardly cyber hacker. Here, Atkinson, 63, tells The Post about his latest English adventure — and the possible re-emergence of his other famous character, Mr. Bean.
Why was it so long between Johnny English films?
Just laziness, I suspect. And the fact there are a lot of other things I like doing apart from the “Johnny English” movies. What have I done since then? Definitely some theater and various odds and sods. I’m afraid I just find the process of filmmaking very taxing. Very tiring. Very exhausting. Generally draining — because I’m involved in every stage. Certainly, “Star Wars” would be amazed at our lack of ability to plan sequels.
What makes your humor so appealing?
It’s pretty timeless. It’s pretty simple. It’s very accessible stuff. Our movies, for example, very rarely get well-reviewed because [critics]tend to find them pretty facile and full of holes. I’m certainly not someone who says that we make anything anywhere near approaching perfection, but they seem to sustain in the public consciousness. They have a repeatability, particularly for children in the 6 to 15 age bracket. They seem to be happy to watch them over and over again.
Were you nervous using your own Aston Martin Vantage in the movie?
No, not at all actually. Well, A) it’s insured and B) I’m not precious about cars. I like them very much, but they are for use. I’m not a collector of cars. I mean, I’ve got some cars, but some people treat classic cars and historical cars like a boy with a toy cupboard, where I’m not really interested in that idea of a collection. I like cars that I will drive on a regular basis. In that same spirit, if you knock a car, or bash it, or crash it, either go buy another one, or you can always mend it.
How do you feel about social media?
The essence of this movie is an attempt to reflect just where we are and how a lot of people feel about the advancement of digital technology. I’m so pleased that I’m not a creature of social media, just because I find that it’s so fantastically relaxing to not be on social media, it seems to me. Ironically, Mr. Bean has a very big social-media presence.
Have you retired your character Mr. Bean?
The thing about our line of business is you don’t have to officially retire either yourself or your characters, you just sort of stop doing them. Or if you want to bring them back . . . I sometimes think about old Bean, whether we should deliver something where Bean either is or looks 80. How will he be? That’s an interesting idea.