Belfast Telegraph

Director Sam Mendes ‘extremely proud’ to receive knighthood

The film-maker is best known for American Beauty and his work on the James Bond franchise.

Director Sam Mendes (Ian West/PA)
Director Sam Mendes (Ian West/PA)

By Keiran Southern, PA Los Angeles Correspondent

Film-maker Sam Mendes said he was “amazed, delighted and extremely proud” to receive a knighthood.

Mendes is best known for his acclaimed directorial debut, American Beauty, as well for his work on the James Bond franchise.

He said in a statement to the PA news agency: “I’m amazed, delighted and extremely proud.

“I have stood on the shoulders of so many collaborators and colleagues over the last 30 years – actors, writers, designers, producers, technicians – to whom I owe a huge debt of gratitude.

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Daniel Craig and Sam Mendes attending the Spectre photocall (Ian West/PA)

“I would not be receiving this honour without them.”

The 54-year-old is one of only a handful of directors to win the Best Director Oscar for their first feature film and won further plaudits for his work on two of Daniel Craig’s 007 movies.

His first, Skyfall, became the first Bond film to break the billion-dollar barrier at the box office.

Mendes was born in Reading to a Portuguese-Trinidadian father and a British Jewish mother, who divorced when he was three.

He grew up near Oxford with his mother, who is the author of novels for young adults.

Mendes was a directorial wunderkind and was just 24 when he directed Dame Judi Dench in a production of Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard in the West End.

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Sam Mendes directed Dame Judi Dench on stage when he was just 24 (Isabel Infantes/PA)

The pair would work together again on the James Bond franchise.

Mendes delivered on his early promise and is one of only six film-makers to have won the Best Director Academy Award for their directorial debut after triumphing with American Beauty.

He followed that up with the 2002 crime drama Road To Perdition, starring Tom Hanks and future 007 Craig.

For 2008 romantic drama Revolutionary Road, Mendes found himself in the strange position of directing his then-wife Kate Winslet in a sex scene with Leonardo DiCaprio.

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Sam Mendes was previously married to Kate Winslet (Ian West/PA)

To make the experience easier for all involved, Mendes is said to have moved his monitors to another room while shouting instructions to the actors from round the corner.

In 2010 it was announced that Mendes would direct the next James Bond film.

Skyfall arrived in 2012 and was a critical and commercial success, becoming the first movie in the franchise to gross more than one billion US dollars worldwide.

Mendes then took charge of 2015’s Spectre, making him only the second director to helm two Bond films back to back.

His latest movie, First World War epic 1917, is inspired by a story told to him by his paternal grandfather, Alfred Mendes, about two young British soldiers at the height of the conflict.

It has earned high critical acclaim and attracted talk of an Oscar for Mendes.

As well as his career in cinema, Mendes is also known for his stage work, including productions of Cabaret, Oliver!, Company and Gypsy.

In 2018 he won the Laurence Olivier Award for best direction for his work on The Ferryman.

Mendes was divorced from Winslet in 2011 and married second wife Alison Balsom in 2017.

He has two children.

Mendes receives a knighthood for services to drama.

PA

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