Sam Mendes On Directing ‘Spectre’: ‘I Had To Find My Way Back Into It’

Spectre director Sam Mendes recently opened up about why he changed his mind about directing another James Bond film.

During an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Mendes was asked whether or not producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson were able to successfully persuade him in returning to the franchise.

“They wooed me the first time and were very clear that they wanted me, but I had to find my own way back into it. I felt like I didn’t know where to go narratively after the last one. These things take a lot out of you… I didn’t feel I had any headspace to try to work out how to crack it again, and they wanted an answer straightaway.”

Mendes explained that his plate was essentially filled when he took on a major theater project, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Sam Mendes

That was the same response that he gave Empire magazine during a March, 2013, interview when the news of his decision to walk away from the franchise first made headlines. While admitting that “directing Skyfall was one of the best experiences of [his] professional life,” Mendes addressed the need for “complete focus” on his other commitments — including his theater projects.

The 50-year-old director told the Hollywood Reporter that it was much more difficult for him to decide to direct Skyfall than it was for its follow-up.

According to Box Office Mojo, the 2012 film made $1.1 billion at the box office worldwide — including over $304.3 million generated from domestic U.S. ticket sales.

Many fans and critics assumed that the pressure of achieving that type of success twice in a row would have scared off any director — including Sam Mendes.

However, Mendes says that he felt comfortable with directing Spectre after he “had a bit of time to think about it and about the narrative.”

The longtime director also identified the opportunity that he saw with Spectre, which allowed him to dive into the early stages of the James Bond franchise — focusing on the darker characters of Bond’s past.

“I felt like there was an opportunity [with Spectre] to perhaps reimagine on a more epic scale some of the darker characters and organizations that had haunted Bond in in the early part of the franchise — which are all of course rooted in Ian Fleming’s novels… By the ’60s and ’70s, dark was not commercial. And that has changed. People are much more willing to go to different and more interesting places in commercial features now. So there’s a lot to be rediscovered from the Bond back-catalog.”

According to Screen Rant, the official synopsis of Spectre proves just that. Like Skyfall, the upcoming follow-up (and 24th film of the franchise) will focus on bringing an aspect of James Bond’s past into the spotlight.

“A cryptic message from Bond’s past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organisation. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE.”

With two-time Oscar winner Christoph Waltz playing the villain, it is evidently clear that Daniel Craig’s James Bond will have his work cut out for him yet again.

Spectre

When asked whether or not he would return to the franchise for its 25th film, Sam Mendes identified two key factor that would play a part in that type of decision: the desire of others for him to do it and timing.

“You can only make this decision if people want you do it, but one thing I learned from the last one is that you’re in no fit state to make any decision about your career – or any form of creative involvement in Bond – until at least six months after you’ve finished. So I think it would be foolish of me at this stage to offer anything concrete.”

Since Spectre made its official debut in the United Kingdom on Monday, perhaps that 6-month clock for Sam Mendes has already started ticking.

[Image Credit: John Phillips / Getty Images]