After seeing the movie last week, we went back to Manhattan and the Crosby Hotel to meet “Johnny English Strikes Again” star Rowan Atkinson. We loved him in this movie, and it was such fun talking to him about his role in the film.
You drive a really cool car in the film, an Aston Martin. Was it hard to do all the twists and turns in it?
I’ve done that kind of thing a bit before. So I found it relatively easy and very enjoyable. Probably the bit of the movie that I enjoy the most, actually, was driving the car. But unfortunately, at least half of what you see in the movie of the car driving is a stunt driver. Just because of insurance reasons and all sorts of other scheduling reasons, I wasn’t allowed to do as much of the driving as I wanted.
You really seem to have a problem with modern technology in the film. How do you really feel about it?
It can be a fantastic tool — technology. I am reasonably plugged in. You know, digitally outgoing with friends and tablets and computers like most people. I don’t do social media. I don’t use technology in that way because I just find it so much more relaxing to have nothing to do with that sort of stuff. But I buy shirts online. So I can operate in that world.
Have you ever written or edited your own script?
I cowrote the Johnny English script and, I suppose, I’m very much a part of the editing. The strange thing is, to actually shoot a movie, as you may know, takes about three months. But even though that is when I’m doing my main job of acting, the process of writing the script is before then. And then there is the process of editing the movie afterwards. The whole thing takes about two years, not just three months. And because I’m very much a part of the script-writing process — it’s a long process, but I like to be involved at each and every stage.
What was your favorite scene you filmed in this movie?
There’s a scene with virtual reality where he [Johnny] puts on the mask and he doesn’t realize where he is. There’s something very neat about that, and I think it’s genuine. It was quite tricky to put together. We shot all the live-action stuff first, and then we had to create the virtual reality stuff to match it and to edit it. So . . . it’s fun coordinating across the room, the pedestrian crossing. I think I probably enjoyed that the most, and certainly it’s the scene that I enjoy watching the most.
Was the cast laughing when you did your amazing dance moves?
They were quite sweet, actually. It was entirely improvised. I’m afraid that was just me mucking about. I mean, it’s silly dancing, something that happened quite a bit. Not in real life. I mean on screen. I don’t really dance at all in real life. I find in real life, it’s very hard. I can always think of a silly way of dancing, but I can’t think of a serious way of dancing. I think a lot of people are like that.
Do you watch your own movies?
I do, because if I’m part of this process, I sit in through the editing, so I’m almost part of the making of the film. I must have seen this movie probably 200 or 300 times. I know it pretty well. But then after it’s all over, after it’s been out, I don’t see it. I can’t remember the last time I saw the first Johnny English movie, which was made 17 years ago. I don’t sit down and watch the movies. And if they come on TV, then I’ll tend to avoid them, obviously.