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Exclusive: Sam Mendes Says He Was "Not At All" Interested In Bond At First, Took Direct Inspiration From Nolan's 'Dark Knight' Films

by Edward Davis
October 18, 2012 4:25 PM
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Sam Mendes may be a self-confessed long-time fan of the James Bond franchise, but he's known for more humanistic dramas like "American Beauty," "Road to Perdition" and "Revolutionary Road," and the director said the Bond series wasn't something that appealed to him as a filmmaker. Asked if he was interested in doing a Bond movie during an exclusive interview with The Playlist, Mendes the filmmaker said quite the contrary, "No, not at all," he admitted, and noted that his mind was changed by Daniel Craig who approached the filmmaker to see if he was interested in helming "Skyfall."

"I was never interested and I don’t think I saw most of the Pierce Brosnan films," he said. "I was not into them at the time and then when Daniel got cast [in 'Casino Royale'] I was interested because he was a friend and I had worked with him. And I thought, ‘Wow, that's interesting.’ I was on record as saying that I didn’t think he was good casting. Then I saw it and was blown away and was suddenly interested again, as a character, and eager to see the next one. I was slightly disappointed with ‘Quantum of Solace’ although I think it’s got a bit of a short shrift, there’s a lot in it that’s interesting. But when I met with Daniel and he asked whether or not I was interested in doing it, I found myself saying yes very quickly. It was just good timing."

Just as "Casino Royale" reinvigorated the Bond series, Christopher Nolan did the same with his 'Dark Knight' series and when asked, Mendes says he was "directly inspired" by what those films achieved.

"In terms of what [Nolan] achieved, specifically ‘The Dark Knight,’ the second movie, what it achieved, which is something exceptional. It was a game changer for everybody," he explained about how it influenced his approach.

"We’re now in an industry where movies are very small or very big and there’s almost nothing in the middle," he continued. "And it would be a tragedy if all the serious movies were very small and all the popcorn movies were very big and have nothing to say. And what Nolan proved was that you can make a huge movie that is thrilling and entertaining and has a lot to say about the world we live in, even if, in the case with ‘The Dark Knight,’ it’s not even set in our world. If felt like a movie that was about our world post-9/11 and played on our fears and discussed our fears and why they existed and I thought that was incredibly brave and interesting. That did help give me the confidence to take this movie in directions that, without ‘The Dark Knight,’ might not have been possible. Because also, people go, ‘Wow, that’s pretty dark,’ but then you can point to ‘Dark Knight’ and go ‘Look at that – that’s a darker movie, and it took in a gazillion dollars!’ That’s very helpful. There’s also that thing – it’s clearly possible to make a dark movie that people want to see."

"Skyfal" hits theaters nationwide on November 9th. Look for more from our interview with Mendes closer to release, and in the meantime check out our "Skyfall" review out of the U.K. where we call the film one of the best in the series-- Interview by Drew Taylor

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  • Brian | November 18, 2012 12:56 AMReply

    While I was watching Skyfall, all I could think about was TDK and TDKR. There were so many similarities, even in the score, that I got completely pulled out of the story. I knew what was going to happen. It was like they mad-libbed TDK and TDKR scripts with words and characters ubiquitous throughout the Bond franchise. "Storms coming"...seriously?! Studios, and directors, need to stop referencing Nolan's material just because they think it will be successful. Better give it to David Fincher next time if you want to make it dark!

  • Right | November 9, 2012 10:17 PMReply

    Interesting that Mendes admits that Dark Knight influenced Skyfall... considering a major plot point, the bad guy letting himself get captured only to unleash hell from within after being interrogated, is copied directly out of Nolan's film (though he wasn't the first to do it, the similarity is uncanny).

    Loved Skyfall, nonetheless.

  • Amar | November 3, 2012 7:37 AMReply

    Nolan has achieved his popularity its own he is fantastic filmmaker and has fans all over the world. People can't deal the popularity and success he got even their favorite masterful filmmaker have not got that obviously they are pissed-off.

  • Bash | October 19, 2012 12:39 PMReply

    Heads up for UK readers:

    Sam Mendes: Licence to Thrill - A Culture Show Special

  • oh yeah | October 19, 2012 11:45 AMReply

    greengrass c'mon man.theres no glass.

  • SFlare | October 19, 2012 12:20 PM


  • SFlare | October 19, 2012 7:04 AMReply

    You're correct, Rob. It probably shouldn't, but it does feel unusual to me. And I do like that he wants to keep the film option alive in the face of digital take over.

  • SFlare | October 19, 2012 1:10 AMReply

    Touché Rob. You make a great point. There's nothing wrong with being a fanboy, just don't make death threats and stuff. Lol. But yeah, it feels weird to read a positive article comeout about Nolan.

  • Rob | October 19, 2012 1:52 AM

    Why should it feel weird? All of his films have met with acclaim and box office success. My understanding is that he hasn't been someone to make volatile statements about other film makers. PTA, Wes Anderson, Steven Spielberg, and Tarantino are all avid film enthusiasts, but Christopher Nolan is the only director who has been vocal about demanding for its continued use in the place of digital. I don't think this makes the 'negative' as opposed to 'positive'. With the 'death threats' Nolan never condoned any such actions to my knowledge. As such, I don't think anyone can knock the guy- Just a bizarre fringe group of fans.

  • SFlare | October 18, 2012 9:53 PMReply

    @YER I'm not a fanboy, dumb*ss! But i do know that Nolan's popularity comes with a lot of negative blowback. And sometimes the only thing worse than his supporters are his detractors!

  • SFlare | October 18, 2012 9:45 PMReply

    David Cronenberg was right. And Chris Nolan deserves to be a punching bag.

  • Rais | October 20, 2012 9:25 AM

    You're probably a puking bag I assume. I feel humiliated to know that a pathetic creature such as you Exist on this Earth. *PITY THE FOOL*

  • rob | October 18, 2012 11:12 PM

    Why? Because some pretentious internet commenters think that their opinion is the definitive statement. I'll admit I'm a fan, but I don't think a lot of the zealots are any good. However, what director doesn't have a bunch of crazy fans? Does Tarantino, PTA, Malik, or other directors with rabid fans automatically have their work suffer because some fans are nuts? No. If that is the detractors best argument, then they are more pathetic than those crazy fans.

  • SFlare | October 18, 2012 8:23 PMReply

    How do you know all those directors like Nolan? Do you like Nolan? In anycase, I actually quite getting used to him being a bit of a punching bag. David Cronenberg was a lot of people's hero for what he said regarding Christopher Nolan.

  • Alan | October 19, 2012 12:37 AM

    @Yer "Spielberg, Boyle, Brad Bird, Fincher, Rain Johnson, Wes Anderson, Tim Burton, Stephen Daldrey, Werner Herzog, Michael Mann, Curtis Hanson, Ron Howard, Ridley Scott, Duncan Jones, James Cameron, Greenglass, and Darren Aronofsky have given him the thumbs up."

  • yer | October 18, 2012 8:53 PM

    It's amazing to see the Chris Nolan fanboys enter a whole new level by attempting to create this situation where Nolan is some sort of matyr where famous directors are shitting all over him. Give it a break.

  • Pat | October 18, 2012 8:46 PM

    When Inception and TDKR came out, they had a spread with filmakers talking about the influence Nolan has had. In terms of him being a 'punching bag' that comes from minority opinions like Jim Emerson and people not crazy about his extreme fans who endlessly whine. However, every director has that. Nolan just has acclaim mixed with movies that make huge money. To my knowledge, Chronenberg is the only filmmaker to make disparaging remarks about his work.

  • jt | October 18, 2012 6:03 PMReply

    It is nice to read a critically-acclaim director give Chris Nolan his props, because most well-regarded directors love to trash him.

  • Wash | October 19, 2012 9:03 AM

    Yeah, I would have said the exact opposite, JT. He seems well respected in the industry, even if only for BB and TDK, which are sited by many modern blockbuster and reboot directors as influential.

  • Chris138 | October 18, 2012 8:42 PM

    A majority have praised him, but there are also people like David Cronenberg, Francis Ford Coppola and Jane Campion who have at least dissed his Batman films. Coppola and Cronenberg are both fans of Memento, but neither like The Dark Knight and I think a lot of that is because they just aren't superhero fans in the first place.

  • Pat | October 18, 2012 6:38 PM

    Really? Who? I know Spielberg, Boyle, Brad Bird, Fincher, Rain Johnson, Wes Anderson, Tim Burton, Stephen Daldrey, Werner Herzog, Michael Mann, Curtis Hanson, Ron Howard, Ridley Scott, Duncan Jones, James Cameron, Greenglass, and Darren Aronofsky have given him the thumbs up. Greenglass and Herzog went as far as saying TDK was one of the great films of the last decade.

  • Dan | October 18, 2012 6:09 PM

    By most do you mean, David Chronenberg? From what I've read, most have gone out of their way to praise him.

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