The comedy actor has made the claims in a new ITV series honoring his comedy character on his 30th birthday.
In the show, titled Happy Birthday Mr Bean, Atkinson recalled a scene from his 1992 comedy show in which the character is seen running with a turkey on his head.
Six years later, the American sitcom friends directly imitated this joke for his 1996 episode “The One With All Thanksgivings”.
It shows Joey (Matt LeBlanc) running frantically with a turkey stuck on his head.
Monica (Courteney Cox) is also pictured wearing the turkey head later in the episode.
“When we made the movie Bean in 1996, we decided to plagiarize ourselves and use the turkey on the head again,” Atkinson said, adding, “The shooting in the 1990s was also friends – and they stole the joke.
Atkinson said that due to reusing the joke for Mr. Bean’s big-screen adventure, many people then assumed it was the opposite and that he stole the joke from friends.
Atkinson collaborator Richard Curtis, who wrote the turkey gag, also spoke about the documentary.
“I am absolutely dazzled by the friends thing, ”he said. I only saw him the other day. I literally can’t believe what happened there. Weird. ”
Atkinson added, “At the end of the day, you can’t steal jokes. But jokes are there to be stolen or to inspire. Inspire others. ”
Find our review of Happy Birthday Mr Bean here.