Sam Mendes’ ‘Stomach Churns’ Thinking About Directing Bond Films: ‘There’s No Victory’

Mendes was the filmmaker behind "Skyfall" and "Spectre," the latter of which is considered one of the weakest entries in the Bond franchise.
Daniel Craig and Sam Mendes
Daniel Craig and Sam Mendes
Jonathan Hordle/Shutterstock

Sam Mendes is a frontrunner to earn a Best Director Oscar nomination in 2020 for “1917.” Mendes’ virtuoso direction of the World War I action thriller is something of a comeback for the English filmmaker after his last directorial effort “Spectre,” the 2015 Bond film that is often considered one of the weakest installments in the 25-film franchise. Ahead of “1917” opening in theaters this Christmas, Mendes told The Sunday Times (via The Independent) that directing Bond films was a no-win situation.

“When I think of them my stomach churns,” Mendes said of his Bond movies, which include “Skyfall” and “Spectre.” “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.”

Mendes said there are simply too many fans across the world to please when it comes to the James Bond franchise, adding, “Everyone has their own version of it in their head.”

Mendes’ first Bond outing, “Skyfall,” brought the spy franchise back to greatness following the critical misfire of “Quantum of Solace.” “Skyfall” is often cited as the best Bond film ever made. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning the prizes for Best Sound Editing and Best Best Original Song (“Skyfall” by Adele and Paul Epworth), and it became the highest grossing Bond film ever released with $1.1 billion at the worldwide box office. The popularity of “Skyfall” set the bar high for Mendes’ follow-up “Spectre,” which earned more middling reviews and $880 million worldwide.

The Bond franchise is returning next year with “No Time to Die,” from director Cary Fukunaga. The movie will be Daniel Craig’s fifth and final outing as the 007 character. For Mendes, leaving Bond behind allowed him to move on to “1917” and it was a decision that appears to be paying off. The filmmaker is nominated for a Golden Globe and is a top contender for the Best Director Oscar. “1917” is also expected to land a Best Picture Oscar nomination, among several noms in the craft categories.

“1917” is opening in theaters Christmas day. The next Bond film, “No Time to Die,” will hit theaters nationwide April 8, 2020.

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