Exclusive: Sam Mendes Says He Was “Not At All” Interested In Bond At First, Took Direct Inspiration From Nolan’s ‘Dark Knight’ Films

Exclusive: Sam Mendes Says He Was "Not At All" Interested In Bond At First, Took Direct Inspiration From Nolan's 'Dark Knight' Films

Sam Mendes may be a self-confessed long-time fan of the James Bond franchise, but he’s known for more humanistic dramas like “American Beauty,” “Road to Perdition” and “Revolutionary Road,” and the director said the Bond series wasn’t something that appealed to him as a filmmaker. Asked if he was interested in doing a Bond movie during an exclusive interview with The Playlist, Mendes the filmmaker said quite the contrary, “No, not at all,” he admitted, and noted that his mind was changed by Daniel Craig who approached the filmmaker to see if he was interested in helming “Skyfall.”

“I was never interested and I don’t think I saw most of the Pierce Brosnan films,” he said. “I was not into them at the time and then when Daniel got cast [in ‘Casino Royale‘] I was interested because he was a friend and I had worked with him. And I thought, ‘Wow, that’s interesting.’ I was on record as saying that I didn’t think he was good casting. Then I saw it and was blown away and was suddenly interested again, as a character, and eager to see the next one. I was slightly disappointed with ‘Quantum of Solace’ although I think it’s got a bit of a short shrift, there’s a lot in it that’s interesting. But when I met with Daniel and he asked whether or not I was interested in doing it, I found myself saying yes very quickly. It was just good timing.”

Just as “Casino Royale” reinvigorated the Bond series, Christopher Nolan did the same with his Dark Knight’ series and when asked, Mendes says he was “directly inspired” by what those films achieved.

“In terms of what [Nolan] achieved, specifically ‘The Dark Knight,’ the second movie, what it achieved, which is something exceptional. It was a game changer for everybody,” he explained about how it influenced his approach.

“We’re now in an industry where movies are very small or very big and there’s almost nothing in the middle,” he continued. “And it would be a tragedy if all the serious movies were very small and all the popcorn movies were very big and have nothing to say. And what Nolan proved was that you can make a huge movie that is thrilling and entertaining and has a lot to say about the world we live in, even if, in the case with ‘The Dark Knight,’ it’s not even set in our world. If felt like a movie that was about our world post-9/11 and played on our fears and discussed our fears and why they existed and I thought that was incredibly brave and interesting. That did help give me the confidence to take this movie in directions that, without ‘The Dark Knight,’ might not have been possible. Because also, people go, ‘Wow, that’s pretty dark,’ but then you can point to ‘Dark Knight’ and go ‘Look at that – that’s a darker movie, and it took in a gazillion dollars!’ That’s very helpful. There’s also that thing – it’s clearly possible to make a dark movie that people want to see.”

“Skyfal” hits theaters nationwide on November 9th. Look for more from our interview with Mendes closer to release, and in the meantime check out our “Skyfall” review out of the U.K. where we call the film one of the best in the series— Interview by Drew Taylor

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Comments

Brian

While I was watching Skyfall, all I could think about was TDK and TDKR. There were so many similarities, even in the score, that I got completely pulled out of the story. I knew what was going to happen. It was like they mad-libbed TDK and TDKR scripts with words and characters ubiquitous throughout the Bond franchise. "Storms coming"…seriously?! Studios, and directors, need to stop referencing Nolan's material just because they think it will be successful. Better give it to David Fincher next time if you want to make it dark!

Right

Interesting that Mendes admits that Dark Knight influenced Skyfall… considering a major plot point, the bad guy letting himself get captured only to unleash hell from within after being interrogated, is copied directly out of Nolan's film (though he wasn't the first to do it, the similarity is uncanny).

Loved Skyfall, nonetheless.

Amar

Nolan has achieved his popularity its own he is fantastic filmmaker and has fans all over the world. People can't deal the popularity and success he got even their favorite masterful filmmaker have not got that obviously they are pissed-off.

Bash

Heads up for UK readers:

Sam Mendes: Licence to Thrill – A Culture Show Special

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01nmjt7

oh yeah

greengrass c'mon man.theres no glass.

SFlare

You're correct, Rob. It probably shouldn't, but it does feel unusual to me. And I do like that he wants to keep the film option alive in the face of digital take over.

SFlare

Touché Rob. You make a great point. There's nothing wrong with being a fanboy, just don't make death threats and stuff. Lol. But yeah, it feels weird to read a positive article comeout about Nolan.

SFlare

@YER I'm not a fanboy, dumb*ss! But i do know that Nolan's popularity comes with a lot of negative blowback. And sometimes the only thing worse than his supporters are his detractors!

SFlare

David Cronenberg was right. And Chris Nolan deserves to be a punching bag.

SFlare

How do you know all those directors like Nolan? Do you like Nolan? In anycase, I actually quite getting used to him being a bit of a punching bag. David Cronenberg was a lot of people's hero for what he said regarding Christopher Nolan.

jt

It is nice to read a critically-acclaim director give Chris Nolan his props, because most well-regarded directors love to trash him.

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