Mr. Bean In James Bond Role

In the new spy comedy "Johnny English," British funnyman Rowan Atkinson plays a low level-secret agent who becomes the center of attention after the crown jewels are stolen.

Atkinson, well known for his TV and movie role as "Mr. Bean," describes his character as a "someone who's always dreamed of being James Bond.

"He's a junior agent in the British Secret Service and he's always dreamed of being the number one agent and being sent on glamorous missions, which he's never been allowed to do. He's not qualified," Atkinson says.

"But at the beginning of our movie under mysterious circumstances all of the British secret agents get killed so there's literally no one left to find out what's happened to them except for Johnny English. He is catapulted into the number one spot. He loves it. But, of course, he loves it too much. He overreaches always. He's not as good as he thinks he is. That's the problem."

The film has been compared to "Austin Powers," but Atkinson notes though he is a fan of Powers, "Johnny English" is not a spoof. Instead, he says it is a spy comedy.

Atkinson adds, "The character Johnny English has a lot of in common with Inspector Clouseau. I think the difference between how good Inspector Clouseau was and how good he thought he was, was larger than the gap for Johnny English."

The film also stars multiple Academy Award nominee John Malkovich who plays the very French and very crafty business magnate, Pascal Sauvage. Atkinson says, "I went to a premiere in France and they were laughing hysterically [at Malkovich's accent], which is very good. Fine by me."

Also in the film is Natalie Imbruglia, who plays Special Agent Lorna Campbell. Atkinson says, "She was great. We got on really well. And what's great about it is she provides this wonderful comic contrast to Johnny English. Johnny English who is such a pompous guy, who wants a long and complicated solution to the problem. But she brings cool and common sense. She's the voice of reason in our movie."

The physical comedian known worldwide from such hits as the BBC series, "Black Adder," the comedy show, "Mr. Bean" and its 1997 movie version "Bean" continues to enjoy the success of his latest venture.

"Johnny English" debuted at No.1 in 30 countries and remained in the Top 10 during the first six weeks of release in every country where it has played.

"Johnny English" was adapted from a series of popular British credit card commercials that aired between 1992 and 1997, in which Atkinson played a somewhat accident-prone spy.