Bond 24 director Sam Mendes, speaking at a special charity event held at Windsor Castle in the UK, revealed that following up on the huge success of Skyfall is a ‘big challenge’ and ‘gruelling’, but also fun.
The Skyfall director was the guest of honour at a special event held by the charity ‘Films Without Borders’ on the evening of Tuesday, July 8. The special event was located in the grand Waterloo Chamber at the Queen’s Windsor Castle residence, just outside London. The charity was celebrating its 4th anniversary and, very appropriately given the unique Royal setting, Mendes was interviewed on stage by Prince Edward, who conducted the interview on behalf of the charity. At one point, Mendes, who was sitting in a gilded chair, quipped, ‘I think this is the closest I’m ever going to get to sitting in a throne!’
Asked about the fantastic success of the 23rd 007 adventure Skyfall, Mendes spoke about how the spirit of the 2012 Olympic Games, being held in London at the time, had influenced the pro-British enthusiasm in the movie, and he said that he remembers thinking ‘I think this might be O.K.’ as he edited the film. He recalled watching the now famous Mo Farah race and being inspired by the 80,000 people cheering the same guy: ‘There was a feeling around London and England that changed the way I cut the movie. It fed into it in an interesting way’.
Quizzed briefly about the next Bond movie, on which he has been carrying out pre-production work, Mendes said that following up on the huge success of Skyfall ‘is a big challenge for me… I am just hammering it [the script] out now. It’s gruelling but it’s fun’.
Responding to further questions by Prince Edward, Mendes said that, after directing Skyfall, which was hailed as a more ‘modern’ approach to James Bond, he knew that he wanted to direct a follow-up story: ‘We had taken Bond where people aged and were getting old and dying. It had come out of this bubble of timelessness, I felt. I thought I would need to say what happened next, in the next year or two’.
Mendes added that he knew he would do the next 007 film as soon as Daniel Craig also confirmed. He also explained to the Prince: ‘I spent a long time doing movies that defied easy categorisation. But with Bond, it was very clear what was demanded. With Bond you have to know everything Bond has done before. You can’t repeat it. You’re not going to reinvent the wheel’.
Mendes also referred to the formative experience of seeing Roger Moore’s first Bond movie Live and Let Die (1973), when he was aged 10: ‘It was adult sexuality, weird glamour, violence… it was really powerful’. He also recalled that, back then in the 1970s, film releases like the Bond movies felt like big-screen ‘special events’, something ‘that you don’t switch off or pause… to me that is what Bond should still be’.
Returning back to the success of Skyfall at both the box office and with the critics, Mendes told the Prince that the impact ‘went way beyond what I imagined: it was a capturing-lightening-in-a-bottle moment’, which had only happened once before for him, when his debut movie American Beauty seemed to capture a unique moment in Clinton-era America in the 1990s.
Interestingly, when asked about his career working across various genres, Mendes smiled and teased the audience, saying that ‘after the next one, I’m not going to do any more spy movies’.
Contrary to recent reports in the media, the JBIFC understands that Bond 24 is still due to start shooting in late October this year. It is also thought that part of the story will involve wintry scenes set in a north Scandinavian country.