The Bond special was devoted to a face-to-face interview with the new Bond director and a detailed profile of his career so far, both in the theatre and in films. The interview was conducted by the BBC’s film critic Mark Kermode.
The programme opened with various comments about Mendes from the actors involved in ‘Skyfall’, including Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes and Judi Dench. Fiennes praised the ‘lucidity’ and ‘perception’ of Mendes as a director, while Dench said ‘you feel that he is completely in control’.
Mendes revealed that he saw his first James Bond movie when he went with his Dad to see ‘Live and Let Die’ (1973), and he said the ‘voodoo stuff’ really scared him, while the boat chase ‘thrilled’ him.
Discussing his own particular approach to directing a Bond movie, Mendes said he felt that some of the Bond movies, such as ‘Moonraker’, had become more like travelogues in their approach, losing sight of the story and Bond as the central character. He said he felt that Daniel Craig in ‘Casino Royale’ had helped make James Bond the centre of the story again, and this was the approach he also sought for ‘Skyfall’. On Daniel, Mendes said he believed that Craig is the ‘hardest working actor’ he has ever met.
The programme also discussed the other movies directed by Mendes, including his first movie ‘American Beauty’, which picked up numerous top awards and high praise. He said he was also ‘very proud’ of ‘Road to Perdition’, where he also (of course) first encountered Daniel Craig (he was struck with Daniel’s ‘blue eyes’ in particular).
Returning back to ‘Skyfall’ towards the end of the interview, Mendes said his deliberate approach to the new Bond movie was to combine the ‘modern’ and contemporary with a strong nod to the past, with the last third of the movie especially being a nod to the last 50 years of 007 (hence the return of the Aston Martin).
His next project, he said, will be ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, based on the book by the children’s author Roald Dahl, which was one of the first books Mendes fell in love with as a child.