September 28, 2022
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Sam Mendes’ James Bond Career Could Have Ended With Skyfall

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Mendes might not have seemed like an obvious choice to helm “Skyfall.” He rose to prominence in the West End, directing Judi Dench in a stage version of Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard,” and working with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal National Theater. He later compared Shakespeare to Bond, telling BBC Radio:

“There are actually quite strong similarities… You have a kind of familiarity with it.”

When you consider his experience with The Bard, classically trained actors, and a “Skyfall” cast that includes Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, and Albert Finney, all of whom trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), it isn’t surprising that the film has a far more Shakespearean tone than any other 007 adventure. 

Mendes’ stage work gained the attention of Steven Spielberg, whose encouragement helped him land the directing gig on “American Beauty.” The film hasn’t aged well, largely due to Kevin Spacey’s middle-aged dad sniffing around after a teenage girl, but you can’t fault Mendes’ assured direction. It won the Oscar for Best Picture, and Mendes took home the Best Director award.

Skip forward several movies (including “Road to Perdition” and “Jarhead”) and producer Barbara Broccoli revealed how Mendes got the “Skyfall” job (via HeyUGuys):

“[Mendes and Daniel Craig] were at a party in New York, and we got a call the following day from Daniel, who said, ‘I was at a party and had a few drinks, met Sam Mendes… I think I offered him the job, which I’m not sure I was allowed to do, but what do you think?’ And we said, ‘That’d be fantastic, is he interested?’ And he said yeah, so we leapt on a plane, went to New York and had dinner with Sam and discussed it.”



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