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Sam Mendes Says Making James Bond Films Is ‘Not a Healthy Way to Work’

Mendes went to hell and back directing Daniel Craig in two Bond movies, the Oscar-winning "Skyfall" and the more divisive "Spectre."

Sam Mendes and Daniel Craig on "Skyfall" set

Sam Mendes and Daniel Craig on “Skyfall” set

Danjaq/Eon Productions/Kobal/Shutterstock

Sam Mendes directed what many James Bond fans would call one of the best 007 movies ever made with the Oscar-winning “Skyfall,” but don’t expect the “American Beauty” and “1917” filmmaker to return to the spy franchise in the future. Mendes calls the Bond production machine “unhealthy” in a new GQ profile on 007 leading man Daniel Craig. Mendes went through a tumultuous production on “Skyfall” follow-up movie “Spectre,” which continued to have various script changes through the film shoot. That’s nothing compared to Craig’s “Quantum of Solace,” which started filming without a completed screenplay. Mendes says, “There has always been an element that Bond has been on the wing and a prayer. It is not a particularly healthy way to work.”

Bond’s on-the-fly production machine left Mendes and Craig emotionally and physically exhausted, so much so in the latter’s case that Craig infamously joked he’d rather “slit his wrists” than make another Bond movie. Craig was being hyperbolic, but he was serious about wanting to walk away. As the actor told GQ, “I was never going to do one again. I was like, ‘Is this work really genuinely worth this, to go through this, this whole thing?’ And I didn’t feel…I felt physically really low. So the prospect of doing another movie was just like, it was off the cards. And that’s why it has been five years.”

Mendes made headlines last December for being critical of getting involved with the Bond franchise. “When I think of them my stomach churns,” Mendes told The Sunday Times of his Bond movies. “It’s just so hard. You feel like the England football manager. You think, if I win, I’ll survive. If I lose, I’ll be pilloried. There is no victory. Just survival.” The director added there are simply too many fans across the world to please when it comes to the James Bond films, saying, “Everyone has their own version of it in their head.

Craig’s next Bond outing, “No Time to Die,” will be his final time playing 007. The Cary Fukunaga-directed tentpole recently pushed back its release from April to the Thanksgiving holiday in November because of the worldwide coronavirus outbreak.

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