Rowan Atkinson is trying to overcome the depression caused by the critical mauling of his last film by becoming a villain - he's playing LORD VOLDEMORT in the new Harry Potter film.

The British 48-year-old star had to check into a rehabilitation clinic in America after last year's (03) Johnny English was slammed by critics - even though it did relatively good business at the box office.

However, the rubber-faced funnyman has decided to expand his repertoire by signing up for the part of evil Voldemort in the upcoming THE GOBLET OF FIRE, which is due for release in 2005.

A source comments, "Its a very major career change for Rowan. He has been looking to spread his wings and branch out into other roles.

"He doesn't want to be the nice guy or the rubber-faced chap forever."

Atkinson's character has previously appeared only as a spirit, but is brought by to life by "death eaters" in the Goblet Of Fire, which will follow this year's (04) third Potter installment, THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN.

07/01/2004 02:32