Samuel Alexander “Sam” Mendes, CBE is an English stage and film director. He is best known for directing “American Beauty” (1999), which earned him the Academy and Golden Globe Award for Best Director, the crime film “Road to Perdition” (2002), and the James Bond film “Skyfall” (2012). He also is known for dark re-inventions of the stage musicals “Cabaret” (1994), “Oliver!” (1994), “Company” (1996), and “Gypsy” (2003). He directed an original stage musical for the first time with “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (2013).
In 2000, Mendes was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II for “services to drama” and in the same year was awarded the Shakespeare Prize by the Alfred Toepfer Foundation in Hamburg, Germany. In 2005, he received a lifetime achievement award from the Directors Guild of Great Britain.
James Bond: 2012-2015
On 5 January 2010, news broke that Mendes was employed to direct the 23rd Eon Productions installment of the James Bond franchise. The film, “Skyfall”, was subsequently released on 26 October 2012, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Bond films. Mendes had been employed as a consultant on the film when it was in pre-production, and had remained attached to the project during the financial troubles of MGM.
The film was a major critical and commercial success, becoming the 14th film to gross over $1 billion worldwide.
Following the success of “Skyfall”, Mendes was asked if he was returning to direct the next Bond film. He responded, “I felt I put everything I possibly could into this film and it was the Bond film I wanted to make. And if I felt I could do the same again, then absolutely I would consider doing another one. But it is a big task and I wouldn’t do it unless I knew I could.”
It was reported that one reason Mendes was reluctant to commit was that one proposal involved making two films back-to-back, based on an idea by “Skyfall” writer John Logan, which would have resulted in Mendes and other creative personnel being tied up with filming for around four years. It was reported in February 2013 that this idea had since been shelved and that the next two films would be stand-alone. The same report claimed that Mendes was “75% on board, but was waiting to see the finished script before committing.”
However, Mendes said in an interview with Empire Magazine in March 2013 that “It has been a very difficult decision not to accept Michael and Barbara’s very generous offer to direct the next Bond movie.” He cited, amongst other reasons, his commitments to the stage version of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “King Lear”.
However, on 29 May 2013, it was reported that Mendes was back in negotiations with producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli to direct the next Bond film, going back on comments that he had previously made on 5 March 2013 announcing that he would not be directing the 24th Bond film in order to focus efforts on his career in theater. Wilson and Broccoli were willing to postpone production of the film to ensure Mendes’ participation.
On 11 July 2013 it was announced that Mendes will direct the 24th James Bond film, due for release in 2015. This makes him the first filmmaker since John Glen to direct two Bond films in a row.