Three and a half decades into a career arguably more storied than that of any other British film and theatre director, Sam Mendes continues to push boundaries. In fact, he has just chalked up a professional first: his debut solo original screenplay. The project? Empire of Light, a hymn to the magic of cinema, also directed by Mendes, starring Olivia Colman, Toby Jones and Colin Firth. The film will hit our screens in January, a big month for Mendes, which will also see the return to the West End of his acclaimed production of The Lehman Trilogy, fresh from a Tony award-winning run on Broadway.
As a young man, Mendes was more interested in cricket than drama. But he developed a passion for theatre at Cambridge University and stepped into the role of artistic director at the Donmar Warehouse just three years after graduating. His lauded productions of Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins, Cabaret and David Hare’s The Blue Room, for which he brought Nicole Kidman to the London stage, drew the attention of Hollywood. His debut movie, American Beauty, won five Oscars in 1999.
On stage, Mendes has directed hit after hit, ranging from musicals such as Gypsy and Oliver! to Jez Butterworth’s The Ferryman. On screen, he has brought us Revolutionary Road, Road to Perdition, 1917 and the James Bond films Skyfall and Spectre.
Now’s your chance to quiz Mendes about his extraordinary career. What’s the outlook for the performing arts in a recession, perhaps? Does he still play cricket? And who does he fancy for the next Bond?
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