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