Sam Mendes

Sam Mendes

Birth name: Samuel Alexander Mendes
Born: August 1, 1965
Age: 58
Birthplace: Reading, Berkshire, England
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Samuel Alexander Mendes, CBE (born 1 August 1965),[2] is an English stage and film director best known for directing the drama film American Beauty (1999), which earned him the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Director, the crime film Road to Perdition (2002), and the James Bond films Skyfall (2012) and Spectre (2015).

He also is known for dark re-inventions of the stage musicals Cabaret (1994), Oliver! (1994), Company (1995), and Gypsy (2003). He directed an original West End stage musical for the first time with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2013).

In 2000 Mendes was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II for "services to drama" and in the same year was awarded the Shakespeare Prize by the Alfred Toepfer Foundation in Hamburg, Germany. In 2005, he received a lifetime achievement award from the Directors Guild of Great Britain.[3][4] In 2008 The Daily Telegraph ranked him number 15 in their list of the "100 most powerful people in British culture".[5]

Mendes was born in Reading, Berkshire, the only child of Valerie Helene (née Barnett), an author of children's books and Jameson Peter Mendes, a university professor.[2][6] His father, who is from Trinidad, is a Roman Catholic of Portuguese descent,[7][8][9] and his mother is an English Jew.[10] His grandfather was the Trinidadian writer Alfred Hubert Mendes.[6][7]

Mendes's parents divorced when he was a child. He grew up in Oxfordshire and attended Magdalen College School and Peterhouse, Cambridge, where he graduated with a first in English.[6][11][12] While at Cambridge, he was a member of the Marlowe Society and directed several plays, including a production of Cyrano de Bergerac with Tom Hollander among the cast members.[13] He was also a "brilliant" schoolboy cricketer, according to Wisden and played for Magdalen College School in 1983 and 1984.[14] He also played cricket for Cambridge University.[15]

Aged 24 Mendes directed a production of Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard in the West End that starred Judi Dench.[16] Soon he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, where his productions, many of them featuring Simon Russell Beale, included Troilus and Cressida, Richard III and The Tempest.

He worked at the Chichester Festival Theatre in 1988 as assistant director on a number of productions, including Major Barbara, and directing in "The Tent", the second venue. He later directed at the Royal National Theatre, helming Edward Bond's The Sea, Jim Cartwright's The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, Harold Pinter's The Birthday Party, and Othello with Simon Russell Beale as Iago.




In 1990 Mendes was appointed artistic director of the Donmar Warehouse, a studio space in London's Covent Garden which he helped transform into one of the city's more notable theatre venues.[17] He spent his first two years overseeing the redesign of the theatre, and his opening production was Stephen Sondheim's Assassins in 1992.[17] Several successful productions followed.[17]

In 1993 Mendes staged an acclaimed revival of John Kander and Fred Ebb's Cabaret starring Jane Horrocks as Sally Bowles, Alan Cumming as Emcee, Adam Godley as Cliff Bradshaw and Sara Kestelman as Frau Schneider.[17] The production was approached with a fresh concept, differing greatly from both the original 1966 production directed by Harold Prince and the famed film version, directed by Bob Fosse. This production opened at the Donmar and received four Olivier Award nominations including Best Musical Revival, before transferring promptly to Broadway where it played for several years at the Kit Kat Club (i.e. the Stephen Sondheim Theater). The Broadway cast included Cumming once again as Emcee, with Natasha Richardson as Sally, Mary Louise Wilson as Frau Schneider and John Benjamin Hickey as Cliff. Cumming and Richardson won Tony Awards for their performances.

1994 saw Mendes stage a new production of Lionel Bart's Oliver!, produced by Cameron Mackintosh. Mendes, a longtime fan of the work, worked in close collaboration with Bart and other production team members, William David Brohn, Martin Koch and Anthony Ward, to create a fresh staging of the well-known classic. Bart added new musical material and Mendes updated the book slightly, while the orchestrations were radically rewritten to suit the show's cinematic feel. The cast included Jonathan Pryce (after much persuasion) as Fagin, Sally Dexter as Nancy, and Miles Anderson as Bill Sikes. Mendes, Pryce and Dexter received Olivier Award nominations for their work on Oliver!.[18]

He has also directed productions of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie, Stephen Sondheim's Company (which had the first ever African American Bobby), Alan Bennett's Habeas Corpus and his farewell duo of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya and Twelfth Night, which transferred to the Brooklyn Academy of Music.[17]

In 2003 Mendes directed a revival of the musical Gypsy. Originally, he planned to stage this production in London's West End with an eventual Broadway transfer, but when negotiations fell through, he brought it to New York. The cast included Bernadette Peters as Rose, Tammy Blanchard as Louise and John Dossett as Herbie. Mendes also directed the 2014 Olivier Award-nominated stage adaptation of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.[19]

Mendes directed Jez Butterworth's The Ferryman for the Royal Court Theatre in London in 2017, of which he won an Olivier Award for best director.[20]


In 1999 Mendes made his film directorial debut with American Beauty, starring Kevin Spacey. The film grossed $356.3 million worldwide.[21] The film won the Golden Globe Award, the BAFTA Award and the Academy Award for Best Picture. Mendes won the Golden Globe Award, Directors Guild of America Award, and the Academy Award for Best Director,[22] becoming the sixth director to earn the Academy Award for his feature film debut.[23]

Mendes's second film, in 2002, was Road to Perdition, which grossed US$181 million. The aggregate review score on Rotten Tomatoes is currently 81%; critics praised Paul Newman for his performance. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actor, and won one for Best Cinematography.

In 2003 Mendes established Neal Street Productions, a film, television and theatre production company he would use to finance much of his later work. In 2005, Mendes directed the war film Jarhead, in association with his production company Neal Street Productions. The film received mixed reviews, with a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 61%, and a gross revenue of US$96.9 million worldwide. The film focused on the boredom and other psychological challenges of wartime.

In 2008 Mendes directed Revolutionary Road, starring his then-wife, Kate Winslet, along with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kathy Bates. In a January 2009 interview, Mendes commented, about directing his wife for the first time, "I would open my eyes in the morning and there Kate would be, going, 'Great! You're awake! Now let's talk about the second scene.'"[24] Mendes's comedy-drama Away We Go opened the 2009 Edinburgh International Film Festival. The film follows a couple (John Krasinski, Maya Rudolph) searching North America for the perfect community in which to settle down and start a family. The film was well received by critics but performed poorly at the box office.

In 2010 he co-produced a critically acclaimed documentary film Out of the Ashes that deals with cricket in Afghanistan.[25][26] In 2012 Neal Street Productions produced the first series of the BBC One drama series, Call the Midwife, following it with a second season which began transmission in early 2013.[27] In April 2016 he was named as the President of the Jury for the 73rd Venice International Film Festival.[28]

James Bond

Mendes (right) collaborated with Javier Bardem for Skyfall, November 2012

On 5 January 2010, news broke that Mendes was employed to direct the 23rd Eon Productions installment of the James Bond franchise.[29] The film, Skyfall, was subsequently released on 26 October 2012, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Bond films. Mendes had been employed as a consultant on the film when it was in pre-production, and had remained attached to the project during the financial troubles of MGM. The film was a major critical and commercial success, becoming the 14th film to gross over $1 billion worldwide.[30][31]

Following the success of Skyfall, Mendes was asked if he was returning to direct the next Bond film. He responded, "I felt I put everything I possibly could into this film and it was the Bond film I wanted to make. And if I felt I could do the same again, then absolutely I would consider doing another one. But it is a big task and I wouldn't do it unless I knew I could."[32]

It was reported that one reason Mendes was reluctant to commit was that one proposal involved making two films back-to-back, based on an idea by Skyfall writer John Logan, which would have resulted in Mendes and other creative personnel being tied up with filming for around four years.

It was reported in February 2013 that this idea had since been shelved[33] and that the next two films would be stand-alone. The same report claimed that Mendes was "75% on board, but was waiting to see the finished script before committing."[33] However, Mendes said in an interview with Empire Magazine in March 2013 that "It has been a very difficult decision not to accept Michael and Barbara's very generous offer to direct the next Bond movie." He cited, amongst other reasons, his commitments to the stage version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and King Lear.[34]

However, on 29 May 2013, it was reported that Mendes was back in negotiations with producers Wilson and Broccoli to direct the next Bond film,[35] going back on his previous comments.[22][36] Wilson and Broccoli were willing to postpone production of the film to ensure Mendes's participation. On 11 July 2013, it was announced that Mendes would direct the 24th James Bond film. Named Spectre, it was released in October 2015.[37] This made him the first filmmaker since John Glen to direct two Bond films in a row.

Personal life

Mendes and the actress Kate Winslet met in 2001, when Mendes approached her about appearing in a play at the Donmar Warehouse Theatre, where he was then artistic director.[24] They married in May 2003, on what they characterised as a whim, while on holiday in Anguilla.[38] Their son Joe Alfie Winslet Mendes was born on 22 December 2003 in New York City.[38] Mendes also had a stepdaughter, Mia, from Winslet's first marriage to filmmaker Jim Threapleton.[38]

Mendes and Winslet's representative announced on 15 March 2010 that "they separated earlier this year". The couple were divorced in 2011.[38]

Mendes married trumpeter Alison Balsom in January 2017, their daughter Phoebe Mendes was born in September 2017.



Year Film Director Producer Notes
1999 American Beauty Yes Directorial Debut;
Academy Award for Best Director
Golden Globe Award for Best Director
Directors Guild of America Award for Best Director
Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Director
London Film Critics' Circle Award for Director of the Year
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Director
Nominated- BAFTA Award for Best Direction
2002 Road to Perdition Yes Yes Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Director
ShoWest Convention, USA Director of the Year
2005 Jarhead Yes Hollywood Film Award for Director of the Year
2008 Revolutionary Road Yes Yes Nominated- Golden Globe Award for Best Director
2009 Away We Go Yes
2012 Skyfall Yes BAFTA Award for Best British Film
Saturn Award for Best Action or Adventure Film
Jupiter Award for Best International Film
Empire Award for Best Director
Evening Standard British Film Awards Film of the Year
The Kermode Award Best Director
2015 Spectre Yes
2019 1917 Yes Yes Pre-production

Producer only

Year Film Notes
2006 Starter for 10 Executive producer
2007 Things We Lost in the Fire
The Kite Runner Executive producer
2010 Out of the Ashes Documentary;
Executive producer
2012 Blood Executive producer


Producer only

Year Film Notes
2007 Stuart: A Life Backwards TV movie
2012 Call the Midwife
Richard II TV movie
Henry IV, Part I
Henry IV, Part II
Henry V
2014 Penny Dreadful
2016 The Hollow Crown: Richard III TV movie
The Hollow Crown: Henry VI, Part I
The Hollow Crown: Henry VI, Part II
2017 Britannia
2018 Informer

Stage productions

  • 1988: directed Translations at Chichester Festival Theatre.
  • 1988: directed Heartlands at Chichester Festival Theatre.
  • 1989: directed Summerfolk at Chichester Festival Theatre.
  • 1989: directed Loves Labours Lost at Chichester Festival Theatre.
  • 1989: directed The Cherry Orchard with Judi Dench in the West End at the Aldwych.
  • 1990: directed London Assurance with Paul Eddington in Chichester and in the West End at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.
  • 1990: directed Kean with Derek Jacobi at the Old Vic.
  • 1990: Began directing for the Royal Shakespeare Company.
  • 1990: directed Troilus and Cressida with Ralph Fiennes at the Royal Shakespeare Company.
  • 1991: directed Plough and the Stars with Judi Dench at the Young Vic.
  • 1991: directed Richard III with Simon Russell Beale at the Royal Shakespeare Company at The Other Place and on UK Tour.
  • 1991: Began directing for the National Theatre.
  • 1991: Directed The Sea with Judi Dench at the National Theatre.
  • 1992: Directed The Rise and Fall of Little Voice with Alison Steadman and Jane Horrocks at the National Theatre and in the West End at the Aldwych.
  • 1992: became artistic director of the Donmar Warehouse theatre
  • 1992: directed Stephen Sondheim's Assassins at the Donmar Warehouse.
  • 1992: directed The Alchemist at the Royal Shakespeare Company.
  • 1993: directed revival of Cabaret at the Donmar Warehouse with Alan Cumming and Jane Horrocks.
  • 1993: directed Translations at the Donmar Warehouse.
  • 1994: directed Glengarry Glen Ross at the Donmar Warehouse.
  • 1994: directed The Birthday Party at the National Theatre.
  • 1994: directed revival of Oliver! (with score specially revised and augmented by original composer and lyricist Lionel Bart) at the London Palladium; the show ran for four years, becoming on 8 July 1997 the longest-running show at the venue.
  • 1995: directed The Glass Menagerie with Zoe Wanamaker at the Donmar Warehouse and in the West End at the Comedy Theatre.
  • 1995: directed revival of Company with Adrian Lester and Sheila Gish at the Donmar Warehouse and in the West End at the Albery Theatre.
  • 1996: directed Habeas Corpus with Jim Broadbent, Imelda Staunton, Hugh Bonneville and Brenda Belthyn at the Donmar Warehouse.
  • 1997: directed Othello with David Harewood and Simon Russell Beale at the National Theatre as a co-production with the Salzburg Festival and on a world tour.
  • 1997: directed The Fix in the West End.
  • 1997: directed The Front Page starring Griff Rhys Jones and Alun Armstrong at the Donmar Warehouse.
  • 1998: directed Broadway revival of Cabaret (with Rob Marshall as Co-Director and Choreographer) closely based on his previous production with Alan Cumming and Natasha Richardson at the Henry Miller Theater. It then became the first production at the newly renovated Studio 54, where it ran for 5 years.
  • 1998: directed David Hare's The Blue Room, starring Nicole Kidman and Iain Glen at the Donmar Warehouse and on Broadway at the Cort Theatre.
  • 1999: directed Wise Guys (workshop) in New York with Nathan Lane and Victor Garber.
  • 2000: directed To The Green Fields Beyond with Ray Winstone and Dougray Scott at the Donmar Warehouse.
  • 2002: directed Uncle Vanya and Twelfth Night at the Donmar Warehouse and at BAM with Simon Russell Beale, Helen McCroy, Emily Watson and Mark Strong.
  • 2002: directed Cabaret at State Theatre, Sydney, Australia, with Tina Arena. Mendes's Australian production opened in Sydney in August 2002, under the guidance of American director B.T. McNicholl.
  • 2003: directed a Broadway revival of Gypsy, at the Shubert Theatre starring Bernadette Peters.
  • 2003: started film and theatre production company, Neal Street Productions, with Pippa Harris and Caro Newling.
  • 2006: directed The Vertical Hour on Broadway, with Julianne Moore and Bill Nighy and Andrew Scott.
  • 2008: Founded the Bridge Project International Touring Company.
  • 2009: directed The Winter's Tale and The Cherry Orchard for The Bridge Project at BAM and the Old Vic, and on world tour with Simon Russell Beale, Sinéad Cusack, Rebecca Hall and Ethan Hawke.
  • 2010: directed As You Like It and The Tempest for The Bridge Project at BAM and the Old Vic, and on world tour starring Stephen Dillane and Juliet Rylance.
  • 2011: directed Richard III, for The Bridge Project at the Old Vic and BAM and on a world tour starring Kevin Spacey Vic (June-September 2011).
  • 2013: directed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane which ran for four years.
  • 2013: directed a Broadway revival of his production of Cabaret at Studio 54 with Michelle Williams, Emma Stone and Sienna Miller.
  • 2014: directed King Lear, at the Royal National Theatre with Simon Russell Beale.
  • 2017: directing The Ferryman by Jez Butterworth, at the Royal Court Theatre[39] and at the Gielgud Theatre in the West End.[40]
  • 2018: directing The Lehman Trilogy by Stefano Massini, adapted by Ben Power, at the National Theatre, starring Simon Russell Beale, Ben Miles and Adam Godley.[41]

Recurring collaborators

Actor American Beauty Road to Perdition Jarhead Revolutionary Road Away We Go Skyfall Spectre
Dylan Baker N N
Chris Cooper N N
Daniel Craig N N N
Ralph Fiennes N N
Naomie Harris N N
Alison Janney N N
John Krasinski N N
Conrad Hall N N
Roger Deakins N N N
Thomas Newman N N N N N N

Awards received by Mendes' works

Year Film Academy Awards BAFTA Awards Golden Globe Awards
Nominations Wins Nominations Wins Nominations Wins
1999 American Beauty 8 5 14 6 6 3
2002 Road to Perdition 6 1 3 2 1
2007 The Kite Runner 1 2
2008 Revolutionary Road 3 4 4 1
2012 Skyfall 5 2 8 2 1 1
2015 Spectre 1 1 1 1
Total 24 9 29 10 15 5

Stage Awards

Year Award Title Result
1989 Critics' Circle Theatre Award for Most Promising Newcomer The Cherry Orchard Won
1992 Evening Standard Theatre Award Best New Comedy The Rise and Fall of Little Voice Won
1993 Times Critics Award for his work at the Donmar - Won
1995 Critics' Circle Theatre Award for Best Director The Glass Menagerie Won
Laurence Olivier Award for Best Director Won
1996 Laurence Olivier Award for Director of a Musical Company Won
1998 Tony Award Best Revival of a Musical Cabaret Nominated
2000 Tony Award Best Revival of a play The Real Thing (producer) Won
The Hamburg Shakespeare Prize - Won
2002 Critics' Circle Theatre Award for Best Director Uncle Vanya and Twelfth Night Won
South Bank Show Award Won
Evening Standard Theatre Award Director of the Year Won
2003 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Revival Won
Laurence Olivier Award for Best Director Won
Society of London Theatre Special Award - Won
2005 Directors Guild of Great Britain Lifetime Achievement Award - Won
2015 Britannia Award John Schlesinger Britannia Award for Excellence in Directing - Won
2017 Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Director The Ferryman Won
2018 Whats on Stage Award Best Director Won
Laurence Olivier Award for Best Director Won

[ Source: Wikipedia ]

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