A profile of Sam Mendes, director of Bond 23

When MGM and EON Productions announced the release date for Bond 23 back in January, they also confirmed that Sam Mendes was on board to direct, which had been so strongly rumoured that had been almost accepted as fact.

Samuel Alexander Mendes CBE was born on 1st August 1965 in Reading, England. He went to Magdalen College School in Oxford and went on to take his BA at Peterhouse, Cambridge in 1987. Mendes was attracting attention before he was 25 years old with his production of “The Cherry Orchard” by Anton Chekhov. As it happened Judi Dench also starred in this West End production. He moved on to the Royal Shakespeare Company where his noted productions were The Tempest, Troilus and Cressida and Richard III.

His stage career continued to develop quickly when he was appointed as artistic director of the Donmar Warehouse in 1992. He transformed the theatre located in Covent Garden to one of the most exciting theatres in London. Mendes went on to produce Oliver, by Lionel Bart in 1994. This turned out to be London Palladium’s longest running show, closing in 1998.

It wasn’t until 1999 that Mendes made an astounding directorial debut with American Beauty. The film won 5 Oscars and pulled in dozens of other awards. Road to Perdition was his second movie in 2002, which also won an Oscar. Jarhead came out in 2005 to mixed reviews. Revolutionary Road featured Mendes’ wife Kate Winslet and was released in 2008. His last release was Away We Go, opening at the 2009 Edinburgh International Film Festival.

However, talented director of stage and screen that he is, there are still those who think that Mendes skills are mismatched for directing a Bond movie; he is seen having artistic pretensions and lacks the credentials of an action director, such as brought to Casino Royale by Martin Campbell. In fact there is nothing remotely “James Bond” in his portfolio, and some point to the parallels with Marc Forster, director of Quantum of Solace, who was also brought in thanks to his credentials.

Mendes will be aware of these views and the need to meet the aspirations of the general cinema going public, as well as the Bond fan community. We will have to wait until 9th November 2012 to see the results for ourselves.

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