“Skyfall” director Sam Mendes spent time answering questions for student journalists in a conference call this week.
Mendes shared secrets of the creative process while directing his first James Bond film and his selecting of the cast and crew. “Skyfall,” the 23rd Bond film, is the third to star Daniel Craig as the refined secret agent and premieres in U.S. theaters on Nov. 9.
The State Press: In the film, Daniel Craig as James Bond says that his hobby is resurrection. How did you resurrect Bond from previous films while keeping the franchise from becoming repetitive and irrelevant?
Sam Mendes: You tell a story that hasn’t been told, and you push the character in directions he hasn’t been pushed before. My producers allowed me to go places we hadn’t gone in other movies. If I felt like I was making the same movie over and over again, I wouldn’t have made the film. You have to have an actor who is capable of going in new areas.
SP: With a classic series, it seems like everyone has opinions of what they want a Bond film to be. How do you deal with this information?
SM: I tune it out. One of the things with making a Bond movie is that it will be surrounded by white noise. The truth is, wherever you go, you’re going to have someone state the opposite opinion of what you think. I went with what I want as an adult to see and what my inner 12-year-old would want to see. The thing about making Bond movies is that this is my Bond movie, and there will be others that come along, but this is mine.
SP: Can you describe your Bond?
SM: If I could describe him, I wouldn’t have made the movie. I don’t want to describe it. I couldn’t describe it. He’s an evolving character that’s going to new places. I think that’s up to you guys (the audience) to tell me what you think. The character isn’t just interesting because he’s called Bond. In a sense, my way of treating him is to not assume that the audience knows him at all.
SP: You brought together a crew of new and old talent in making this film. How do you think this has influenced the making of “Skyfall?”
SM: A director is only ever as good as his crew. I brought on people that had never worked on a Bond film before, and they were willing to be daring and try to new things. At the same time, I used a lot people who had experience. I think it’s a good combination of people trying something new and veterans.
SP: What was it like working with a cast of many Hollywood veterans?
SM: The rewards were huge, and there weren’t very many challenges. They are some of the best actors in the world. That was one of the delights of working on this movie. I’ve never worked on a movie where every actor I asked (to participate) said yes.
SP: If you had to get rid of one of the classic elements of a Bond film (exotic locations, cars, women) what would it be?
SM: I would get rid of exotic locations. Or maybe cars, they are the least interesting to me. You have to make sure those things don’t drive you and that you are using them as a choice.
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