Sam Mendes, director of Skyfall, talked to university and college newspapers about James Bond's latest adventure. Photo courtesy Sony Pictures

Conference call with Mendes. Sam Mendes.

In Arts & Life /

By Susana Gómez Báez

During a conference call on Wednesday, university and college newspapers in the United States and Canada (including The Eyeopener) had the chance to interview Sam Mendes, director of the latest James Bond movie. Premiering in theatres on Nov. 9, Skyfall marks the 23rd episode of the second-highest-grossing film series after Harry Potter. The following questions were asked by different representatives of university and college newspapers across the continent.

Q: How does your personal aesthetic show in the film?

A: “I think it is in every shot. I selected every shot. I chose how it is put together, and how it is timed. It is as personal as anything else I have ever done. I think you would have to say as a viewer how it is similar and not similar to other things I have done. But for me, it is very personal.”

Q: In the film, Bond says that everybody needs a hobby and his…is resurrection. How can you resurrect Bond from the previous films and keep the franchise going without becoming repetitive and irrelevant?

A: You tell a story that hasn’t been told before… and you push the character in directions he hasn’t been pushed before. The nice thing is that the producers were willing to let me go to places they’d never been before in a Bond movie. That’s the first thing. The second thing is you have to have an actor who’s capable of taking the character into new areas.

Q: You brought together a crew of Bond film newcomers such as Roger Deakins and Chris Corbould, so how do you think this combo of new and old talent has influenced the making of Skyfall?

A: The director’s only as good as his collaborators. I was very lucky and had a lot of new people who’d never made a Bond movie before, and they brought out a fresh daring — a sense that they could do anything. They didn’t want to [obey] the rules…of previous Bond movies. And at the same time, I used a lot of people who — particularly in certain areas — had a lot of experience like…special effects…and stunts. I think it’s a good combination of people who are trying out something new for the first time and people who have the wisdom and experience of making Bond movies in the past. I think, hopefully, it was a good mixture.

Q: What was your favorite thing being a part of the James Bond world and what was the most exciting and difficult thing to shoot?

A: I would say the most exciting for me was the first scene between Daniel Craig’s and Javier Bardem’s characters, which we shot for two days. It wasn’t the most difficult, the most difficult was the first 10 minutes of the movie which was an action sequence, which really was…painstaking.

Q: If for any reason you had to get rid of one of these [iconic Bond] elements (cars, exotic locations, beautiful women), which one would you get rid of and why?

A: The cars are the least interesting. You have to make sure that those things do not drive you, and using them is a choice. The question you asked is one of the questions we asked ourselves while we wrote the movie, which is what would we do without, and how will the movie be if we did not have to do these things. And I think we would have to ask each of those things to justify those things in the movie. So everything has a purpose or a reason. So I suppose my answer is the cars.”

Q: What defines a Bond girl to you? How did you decide through the whole series what makes a Bond girl?

A: I didn’t go into this movie thinking ‘what do I need to find in a Bond girl that’s always been there?’ I just wanted to create two interesting, complex, multi-dimensional characters who had a few surprises up their sleeve and weren’t innocent or being pushed around. They had some layers and some depth, they weren’t at first what they appeared. I think that there are certainly a few surprises when it comes to Eve’s character. I wanted the women to be empowered and a little less… perhaps — powerless.

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