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6 Directors Who Could Helm The Next James Bond Film

6 Directors Who Could Helm The Next James Bond Film

The following is an updated version of a
Bond feature we ran in

Somewhat shocking (to fans), but not completely surprising news this AM.
Sam Mendes, the director of “
Skyfall,” the highest-grossing — by a large margin with $1.1 billion — and arguably most popular
James Bond film ever
decided to
pass and won’t be directing

Bond 24.” While the “
American Beauty” director suggested in recent interviews

might take on the next installment
— something the Bond producers would have loved, we’re sure — he had flipped
and flopped, and it doesn’t come as huge surprise Mendes moved on if you’ve paid attention to his creatively peripatetic


The director remained noncommittal in the interim, saying in one
 interview last
year, “I felt like everything I wanted to do with a Bond movie, I put into this film. So I would have to be convinced that I
could do something that I loved and cared about as much if I was to do it again. I think the great risk of repeating oneself is
that one doesn’t have the great store of ideas that you have when you first tackle a subject.”

Mendes was an unusual choice to begin with and one that had some fans scratching their heads at first. Known for theater,
adult chamber dramas, “
Revolutionary Road,” “
American Beauty,” the moody crime film, “
Road To Perdition,” and the slightly looser and more off-the-cuff dramedy, “
Away We Go,” Mendes was no one’s first choice to direct a movie that relied heavily on action and blockbuster
set pieces. But the Bond Broccoli producers and
Daniel Craig (who was the first person to float the idea) recognized those tentpole elements can sort themselves out and
what was missing from Bond was a heart and soul and urgent dramatic stakes (a la “
The Dark Knight” trilogy, something Mendes himself said

helped inspire “Skyfall.”
). It was a risky, bold choice, not something the Bond producers are known for given how
cookie-cutter-ish the franchise has been in some eras, but it paid off immensely, beyond anyone’s wildest dreams, racking
up $500 million more than the second-highest-grossing Bond flick. The dar
k edge of the movie even made “
Casino Royale” — up until that point the rawest Bond film, and credited with revitalizing the going-stale
franchise — look like something light and fluffy. 
(Worth reading: “

What Worked &
Didn’t Work In ‘Skyfall


The gamble having paid off, we’re assuming (and hoping) the keepers of the Bond flame are going to keep pursuing this
newer direction and keep pushing Bond into uncomfortable situations. And that likely means being copacetic with choices who
might not be well-versed in action, but have a full grasp of drama and directing actors (though both qualities are surely a CV
plus; action purists hopefully need not apply). And so with the director’s chair vacated and an opening in the MI6 world,
here are six directors we think could handle Bond if they were interested.

Rupert Wyatt
Why He Might Do It: Wyatt just

stepped away from the high-profile
The Equalizer” starring
 Denzel Washington
, so he’s got a new window to work within. He’s also possibly the best-equipped director on this list given that
he helmed, “
Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes,” a surprise tentpole hit in 2011, that spawned a quick sequel and possessed all the
elements we’ve been discussing: heart, soul, pathos, plus blockbuster bang and entertaining thrills. In that film, Wyatt,
who was only known for smaller films like
The Escapist” up until that point, proved with ‘Apes’ he could handle all challenges, like working with
difficult VFX (the motion capture work is stellar), drama, action, but perhaps most importantly pulling emotional, striking
performances out of actors in a movie with a concept that could be absurd in the wrong hands. ‘Apes’
did look silly even to the geek constituents before it was released, but the film was no joke and surprisingly heartfelt
on top of being engaging and taut. Being English can’t hurt either. Every British director likely has Bond DNA inside them
somewhere. He would be an excellent choice and fufills all the requirements.

Why He Might Not (And Maybe Can’t): The fact of the matter is while Wyatt is off “The Equalizer,” the
reason he had to bail on the project in the first place was because he has the WWI movie “
Birdsong” on deck that

Nicholas Hoult

. It’s likely shooting this summer, which means he probably can’t be free in time for “Bond 24”
which we assume the producers will want to shoot as soon as possible. He’s also directing a

pilot for
, so that’s more evidence why his calendar is too full. That is, unless he were to ditch everything for
“Bond 24” (assuming it was even offered), but dropping those comittments, even if it were a possibility, could prove
to be impossible.

Joe Wright
Why He Might Do It: Seven years since his feature film debut,
Joe Wright has marked himself as a more interesting filmmaker (almost) every time he’s been at bat. His
2005 debut “
Pride & Prejudice” and 2007”s “
Atonement” saw him pegged by most as a prestige helmer, one with a flair for tracking shots and a
grounded approach, but arguably more a younger take on a director like
John Madden than anything more interesting. The poorly received “
The Soloist” didn’t exactly change anyone’s minds. But Wright has turned things around, with the
bonkers pop-art spy picture “
Hanna” last year, and this year’s “
Anna Karenina,” a gorgeous, hugely cinematic take on the Tolstoy novel that shows him to be a far more
playful filmmaker than many thought he was to begin with. In many ways, he’d be the obvious heir to Mendes; possessing a
similar prestige-y background, and with some impressive action experience in “Hanna” under his belt to boot. He’d
be capable of dealing with the high-profile cast that are in place —
Daniel Craig,
Ralph Fiennes,
Ben Whishaw,
Naomie Harris, maybe even
Albert Finney — and attract further quality acting talent too. And while he’s resisted franchise
territory so far, he’s been

the adventure-y sounding “
The Secret Life of Houdini” more recently, which suggests he may be ready to get stuck into that kind of

Why He Might Not: Well, for one thing, he’s pretty busy with two theatrical productions in London next
year, at the Donmar Warehouse and the Young Vic, and possibly ‘Houdini,’ after that. He also just signed up direct an
adaptation of
Neil Gaiman‘s “

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane
.” Whether or not he could make a potential 2015 release date could be tricky. Furthermore, “Hanna” and
“Anna Karenina” are more experimental than anything that Mendes has made before, and there could be a concern on
Broccoli and Wilson’s part that Wright could end up delivering an abstracted, non-naturalistic take on the franchise
(though we’re sure Wright would toe the line to a degree, but we’d hope not
too much). He’d be a fascinating choice, and one that would make sense after Mendes, but we suspect it could be a
long shot. Then again, we’d have said that about Mendes.

Bennett Miller
Why He Could Do It:
Bennett Miller made one of the more assured feature debuts in recent memory with 2005’s smart, tender and
impeccable “
Capote,” which picked up Best Picture & Director Oscar nominations, and won for its star
Philip Seymour Hoffman. Miller took his time for his followup, but it finally came when he stepped in for
Steven Soderbergh on “
Moneyball,” and again did a tremendous job, producing the best studio movie of 2011, one that proved that
he could do great work within the system. And while he’s sticking to more leftfield territory for his next film, the


Foxcatcher,” with
Steve Carell,
Channing Tatum,
Mark Ruffalo and
Sienna Miller, the director seems to have expressed some interest in moving into the franchise world. Miller
was down to the last two to make “
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” and it was

seemingly only his insistence
that the tentpole be delayed six months so that he could make “
Foxcatcher” first that saw the job go to
Francis Lawrence. Clearly, Miller’s keen for the cachet that could come with a massive studio picture,
feels ready to make such a film, and presumably wouldn’t be too upset about the money. With “Foxcatcher” heading
for a fall 2013 release, he could be ready to move on to Bond by the end of next year, and as far as we’re concerned, could
be a great choice to pick up where Mendes left off. They both have the same skill with actors, the same strong, stately
visuals, and the capacity to pull off something surprising and entertaining.

Why He Might Not: We’re assuming a 2015 date, but if Eon & co. want to get back on the
film-every-two-years track, they’d probably need someone working on the film full-time from the summer, and with Miller
likely to be on the awards circuit next season, that would be impossible. Even if 2015 is the case, Miller may not be the
natural choice. There hasn’t been any real action element in anything he’s made so far, and while picking a prestige-y
choice turned out well with Mendes, it didn’t so much with previous Bond helmer
Marc Forster, whose inability to shoot and cut for action really hampered the picture (after all, Mendes had
at least had some gunfire in “
Road To Perdition” and “
Jarhead“). Also, Bond holds a particular lure for British (or at least Commonwealth) helmers, and Miller
may simply not be a huge fan of the franchise. It’s also worth noting that an American has never directed a Bond movie,
though we can’t see many people objecting were that to be the case. Still, we reckon he could be a solid choice.

Cary Fukunaga
Why He Could Do It: Only two films into his career, and
Cary Fukunaga (who’s still only 35) is shaping up to be one of the more exciting and unpredictable
directors of the next wave. The NYU grad made his debut with 2009’s thrilling Spanish-language film “
Sin Nombre,” a gripping picture about Mexican immigrants trying to make it to the U.S., and followed it
two years later with something at the entirely different end of the scale — the haunting, romantic period-drama “
Jane Eyre.” Both were excellent, and have placed Fukunaga firmly on the map. The director was on the
shortlist for both

The Wolverine

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,”
and he’s got

a two-part adaptation
Stephen King‘s “
It” set up at
Warner Bros. So he’s clearly not telling his agency to turn down franchise prospects, and while an artist,
he’s careful to make his films entertaining at the same time. Technically gifted, and good with suspense and tension
(“Sin Nombre” was more exciting than most blockbusters released that year), he could be a fine choice for Bond — and
having spent a couple of years in the U.K. for “Jane Eyre,” might be a little more of an Anglophile than some of the

Why He Might Not: He’s very, very busy, for one. The 
HBO crime series

True Detective
Matthew McConaughey and
Woody Harrelson is now rolling in front of cameras, and on deck he’s got a Civil War train heist picture

No Blood, No Guts, No Glory,”
sci-fi flick


and “

”  all jostling for attention.
 This doesn’t rule Fukunaga out unless he then goes on to a movie straight
away, but it makes things trickier. Furthermore, what Fukunaga lacks is marquee value.
Sam Mendes might not be quite a household name, but as an Oscar winner, he certainly was able to convince some
audience members who might otherwise be Bond-averse. Fukunaga has fans in our circle, but is essentially unknown to the general
public, and a 007 flick “from the director of ‘Jane Eyre,'” doesn’t have the same effect as “from
the director of ‘Road to Perdition.'” So hiring Fukunaga, as inspired a choice as it might be, could end up
risking the momentum gained on “Skyfall.”

Juan Antonio Bayona
Why He Might Do It: A man whose sole released film to date was a foreign-language ghost tale might not be the
obvious call for a Bond movie. The 37-year-old Spaniard came up through music videos and shorts before enlisting
Guillermo Del Toro to produce his feature debut, “
The Orphanage.” The clever, wrenching and terrifying spookfest premiered to raves at Cannes in 2007, and
he immediately became a hot property in Hollywood, as 
he was courted to make
the third “Twilight” movie, and was attached to direct “
Hater” for Universal. Neither came to pass, and it’s taken Bayona five years to follow up his first
film, but “
The Impossible” saw him work on a bigger, broader scale than before with a highly emotional tsunami-set real-life
drama that sees Bayona achieve an impressive degree of destruction on a relatively meager budget. Bayona’s ended up on
recent shortlists for

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes,”
so again, he could well be on the hunt for this sort of thing, and
has the right blend of critical plaudits and commercial appeal to be in the mix. Plus he has nothing firm lined up after this,
so could get to work quickly, and he’d be on the cheaper end of the scale, which always helps.

Why He Might Not: Nothing in “The Orphanage” or “The Impossible,” other than the heat
behind them, makes Bayona an obvious pick for Bond. The films have a very specific style, and the horror of his first film, and
the bruising disaster-movie stylings of his second, doesn’t quite fit into either. This isn’t to say he couldn’t do
a good job (he’s arguably got more experience at large-scale action and set pieces than anyone on this list), but we wonder
if he’s tonally the best fit. He also just signed up to helm
Warner Bros.

” and may be committed to that franchise first.

Joe Cornish
Why He Could Do It: The British comedian/DJ turned director has been one of the hot prospects out there in the
last few years. Having turned screenwriter with pal
Edgar Wright to pen “
The Adventures of Tintin” and “
Ant-Man,” Cornish made his directorial debut midway through 2011 with “
Attack The Block,” a glorious John-Carpenter-in-a-hoodie action-horror that became a serious fan
favorite. Since then, Cornish has been courted for several blockbusters, including “
A Good Day To Die Hard” and, yes, “

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,
” but has pretty much preferred to stick to the beat of his own drum
to date. But, and I say this as a Brit, 007 holds a very special place in the British psyche, and as Mendes has shown,
directors who might not otherwise dream of making a franchise picture would still consider it. And Cornish is a confessed and
avowed Bond fan — witness his loving ribbing of the series in
a faux “
Quantum Of Solace” theme song
composed for his radio show with
Adam Buxton a few years back. Furthermore, the sensibilities shown in his debut, for thrills and laughs in
equal measure, all with real directorial skills and a firm sense of Britishness (one of the refreshing things about Mendes’
entry), suggest a Cornish Bond could be something truly excellent.

Why He Might Not: Cornish’s next film

is slated to be
the “
Iron Giant“ish sci-fi “
Rust.” Word has been quiet since it was announced a little while back, but it’s presumably intended
to shoot sometime during 2013. When exactly that film rolls may be the deciding factor for the director when it comes to
availability, but even then,

he’s developing
an adaptation of seminal cyberpunk novel “
Snow Crash,” and possibly a new original script too. So there’s a certain amount on his plate.
Furthermore, Cornish is cautious about jumping early into the big-budget world, 
late last year of his “Die Hard” offer, “Ultimately I think it would have been too big a step to
take.” Bond would seem to qualify similarly, unless he’s able to fit it in after “Rust.” And even then,
we’re just not sure how interested Cornish would be in actually directing a Bond movie, as big a fan as he might be of the
series. Time, we suppose, will tell.

Other Contenders:  Well, everyone loves to throw his name up on the wishlist, but 
Christopher Nolan
 is a
long shot. During the summer Nolan 

said “it
would have to be the right situation and the right time in their cycle of things,” but we assume you can count him way
out. Some fans are already screaming on Twitter out for Danish 
Nicolas Winding Refn (“
Drive“) but after three
Hollywood-ish/big-budgeted films fell apart for him (the last one 
being “
The Equalizer“) the last thing he probably wants to do is that 
song and dance again (especially when he has
a few of his own original projects still brewing). You can also name some of the biggest directors in the world if you like,
but Bond generally doesn’t go there; Mendes being the biggest name director to helm these films ever and he wasn’t all
that “big” in this world to begin with (even as the only Academy Award-winning filmmaker to ever direct a Bond
So count out the
Peter Jacksons,
Spielberg‘s et al. They aren’t 
realistic choices.

Who else might be a contender to helm? Our best guess is that the days of journeymen helmers like 
Michael Apted and 
Roger Spottiswoode are done. Producers have seen the benefits of bringing in an A-list auteur, and are likely
to try and repeat the trick, even if they have to pay out for it. And yet they’re going to need to be available relatively
soon, with a release in 2015 being loosely targeted.

Given that he’s made two of the great Bond movies, we certainly wouldn’t be against the idea of “
Casino Royale” director
Martin Campbell coming back, especially as he’s coming off the gigantic misfire of “
Green Lantern,” and could probably use a hit. Rising star
J. Blakeson (“
The Disappearance Of Alice Creed“) is on a lot of shortlists these days, though he’s

supposed to be shooting
the crime thriller “
Bad Blood And Trouble” with
Bradley Cooper in the latter half of next year, and we suppose
Rupert Sanders might be feasible, but we’d rather someone with a firmer sense of story in charge.

Danny Boyle‘s been rumored for Bond in the past, and he’s done with “
Trance,” but will 007 seem like a step down after Oscar and Olympic triumphs?
Ang Lee could be an interesting choice, and is a theoretically free agent after “
Life Of Pi” hits in a few weeks, while the idea of
Tomas Alfredson tackling Bond is a very intriguing one, though he likely feels he’s scratched his
espionage itch after “
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.” And for more leftfield choices, the great
Jonathan Glazer (“
Birth“) should be finished with his long-gestating “
Under The Skin” in the immediate future; he’s possibly too sedate for 007, but we’d love to see
his take on the franchise. British helmer
Ben Wheatley could also be fascinating, though he seems happy carving out his own path for the most part. And
with “
Lawless” marking a more commercial side to
John Hillcoat‘s work, he might be in the running in theory, which we’d like to see if only for a
Nick Cave-penned Bond theme.

Anyone else you’d like to see considered? Let us know in the comments section below.  –
Oliver Lyttelton with additional work by Rodrigo Perez

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