I recently came across an interesting character on Facebook, Grant Smith-Pilling. Grant from Whangaparaoa is an avid Warriors fan, seemingly the usual Kiwi type of bloke but he’s actually well known for his uncanny resemblance to the very popular Rowan Atkinson’s UK TV character, Mr Bean. You can spot him sometimes amongst the crowd at the Warriors games, or if you to attend a local charity function you’ll probably find him creating chaos all in the name of good entertainment, he’s very often seen carrying the familiar battered brown suitcase and clutching Teddy (Mr Bean’s favourite companion), to complete the look. We all have that one member of the family that is perhaps a little extrovert, someone that stands out from the crowd; Grant has successfully combined his good nature and quirky image to portray a very different personality. He really is an affable, busy chap and I was instantly intrigued by his take on Mr Bean, so I sought him out to ask him a few questions for our readers:
- When did you first realise that you looked like Mr Bean? I had to go to a work conference as someone famous. My wife flippantly suggested James Bond however, while shaving my neck and under my nose I realised Mr Bean was looking back not James Bond.
- How long have you been impersonating him and did it take long to perfect the character and his mannerisms? I did Mr Bean at the conference in 2007 and I won the best character. Several people offered to manage me as Mr Bean as they said I did it really well. Apparently I didn’t need any time to perfect his mannerisms, I was a natural idiot. I didn’t do Mr Bean again until the following year when I managed to get into Times FM’s “Living with Brownie” Contest carrying a cardboard cut out of Clint Brown around for 2 weeks
- Mr Bean is a very funny character often oblivious to what is going on around him and always creating confusion. Are you anything like Mr Bean in real life and do you find it easy to slip into his character? I don’t think I am like his character, but others may disagree as I often create confusion with my family. I find it easy to slip into character. In normal situations you try not to get noticed or embarrassed. You try not to stand out and you might even feel a bit self-conscious. However, all that changes with Mr Bean and those embarrassing situations are really funny. The more awkward the better.
- What is it do you think, that makes the character so appealing to people? I think people can see a little bit of themselves in Mr Bean and the way he reacts to situations. He is always trying to outdo other people and appear more important than he really is.
- Have you ever met Rowan Atkinson? No. That would be cool.
- If you have the chance to meet him is there anything you would like to ask him about Mr Bean’s character? I think I would just stand there and look like a complete fool. It would be something like Mr Bean’s moment meeting the Queen. I would probably end up head butting him or spitting at him while trying to say something.
- Of all the events you have attended what is your favourite and why? My favourite moment was going to the Warriors Finals Game at Mt Smart while doing the competition with Times Fm. I ended up late to my seat (because I was cheering the Warriors out of the tunnel) I had a ticket right at the front so had to walk all the way down the steps to the front. As I was the only person standing and it was all quiet everyone noticed me. Then a chant started “Bean, Bean, Bean” I got to my seat to find a big Warrior supporter sitting in my seat. I was about to try to think of ways to get this big guy out of my seat, when someone further back shouted out “BEAN YOU”RE IN THE WRONG SECTION” I skulked of with everyone cheering & clapping. I don’t think anyone realised it was an accident.
- What has been the best moment that you have had when impersonating Mr Bean at an event? I think I enjoyed The TV3 Telethon and doing the dance off with Martin Henderson, Karl Urban, Ada Nicodemou, Carolyn Taylor and Kimberly Crossman. It was the first invite to appear on TV with real stars. It was quite a buzz.
- Do you have a favourite Mr Bean episode or moment on TV? I do like Mr Bean’s DIY skills and his stuffing the turkey. But my favourite episode would be Mr Bean in Room 426, probably because it has not been played as much as the others.
- Does Mr Bean have a favourite food? Beans on toast maybe? Sorry, Mr Bean can’t bear beans on toast or Broad Beans
- Have you ever lost Teddy or left him behind anywhere? No, but I do have to hang on to Teddy at a lot of events (especially around teenagers) as they try to take off with Teddy and often I end up having to run along behind them otherwise they would pull Teddy’s head or arm off.
- Do you have a partner like Irma Gobb? Not as part of my act. I am married however. My Wife is very shy and is embarrassed by Mr Bean. At some events I get her to take photos & carry a drink bottle for me. The photos are always so far away you can’t tell who anyone is. The water bottle I usually don’t get until after the event, because I can never find her. That is why most of my photos are selfies.
- The first TV episode that Mr Bean featured in, it appeared that he actually came from outer space. Do you think Mr Bean is an alien? With his brown suit and Teddy he certainly seems like a Space Head.
Grant is available for private and public functions if you need a performer to enliven your event, take a look at his website and give him a call. For more information and book Grant for your event, take a look at Mr Bean’s website:
PO Box 55
Mobile: 021 507 309
Home: 09 428 4081