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Sam Mendes (1965)

Samuel Alexander Mendes

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Samuel Alexander "Sam" Mendes, CBE is an English stage and film director. He is best known for his Academy Award-winning work on his debut film American Beauty and his dark re-inventions of the stage musicals Cabaret , Oliver! , Company and Gypsy . He's currently working on the 23rd James Bond movie: Skyfall. He has a child with his former wife, Kate Winslet.


 early years
Mendes was born in Reading, Berkshire to Valerie Helene (née Barnett), an author of children's books, and Jameson Peter Mendes, a university professor. His father is from Trinidad's ethnic Portuguese community, and his mother an English Jew. His grandfather is the Trinidadian writer Alfred Mendes. He attended Magdalen College School, Oxford and later he graduated from Cambridge with a BA in English.

Mendes first attracted attention for his production of Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard in the West End which starred Judi Dench before he was twenty-five years old. 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 has also worked at the Royal National Theatre, directing 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 1992 Mendes was appointed artistic director of the Donmar Warehouse, an intimate studio space in London's Covent Garden which he quickly transformed into one of the most exciting venues in the city. His opening production was Stephen Sondheim's Assassins which reveled in the show's dark, comic brilliance and rescued it from the critical disfavor it had suffered on its American opening. He followed this with a series of excellent classic revivals, many of which attracted some of the finest actors and biggest stars of the decade.

In 1993, Mendes staged a highly 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. 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 . 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 long time 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 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!. This production is the longest-running show ever to play at the London Palladium, closing in 1998. Mackintosh revived Mendes' production recently at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane where it was re-staged by Rupert Goold.

He has also directed productions of Tennessee Williams's 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. As artistic director Mendes also gave some of the country's finest younger directors the opportunity to do some of their best work: Matthew Warchus's production of Sam Shepard's True West, Katie Mitchell's of Beckett's Endgame, David Leveaux's of Sophocles's Elektra and Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing were amongst the most critically acclaimed of the decade. The Donmar's present artistic director, Michael Grandage, directed some of the key productions of the later part of Mendes's tenure, including Peter Nichols's Passion and Privates on Parade and Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along.

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 decided to bring it straight to New York. The cast included Bernadette Peters as Rose, Tammy Blanchard as Louise and John Dossett as Herbie. Mendes will direct a new stage adaption of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The show is set to open in London in 2013.

Mendes made his directorial debut with the critically acclaimed and box-office success American Beauty, starring Kevin Spacey. The film grossed $356.3 million worldwide and had a 2373% ROI. The film won the Golden Globe Award, the BAFTA Award and the Academy Award for Best Picture. Mendes won a Directors Guild of America Award, a Golden Globe Award, and the Academy Award for directing American Beauty.

Mendes's second film, in 2002, was Road to Perdition, which grossed US$181 million. The aggregate review score on Rotten Tomatoes was 82%; critics praised Paul Newman for his performance. The film was nominated for 6 Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actor, and won one for Best Cinematography.

In 2005, Mendes directed the war film Jarhead. The film received mixed reviews, receiving a Rotten Tomatoes aggregate of 60%, and a gross revenue of US$96.9 million worldwide. The film focused on the boredom and other psychological challenges of wartime, instead of being a traditional combat-action film.

In 2008, Mendes directed Revolutionary Road, starring his wife, Academy Award–winner Kate Winslet, along with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kathy Bates. In a January 2009 interview, Mendes opened up 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.'

Mendes completed work on a comedy-drama called Away We Go, which opened the 2009 Edinburgh International Film Festival. The film follows a couple searching across North America for the perfect community in which to settle down and start a family. The film stars John Krasinski, Maya Rudolph, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Catherine O'Hara, and Melanie Lynskey.

Mendes is starting pre-production on a film adaptation of the acclaimed 1971 Tony-winning Broadway musical Follies and has announced his intentions to film an adaptation of the novel Middlemarch in the near future.

According to ComingSoon.net, Columbia Pictures has purchased the rights to the Preacher graphic novel series and have hired Sam Mendes to direct it. He will also be an executive producer for the American movie remake of the British mini series Lost in Austen.

On 5 January 2010, news broke that Mendes was in negotiations to direct the 23rd installment of the James Bond franchise.

 personal life
Mendes married British actress Kate Winslet on 24 May 2003 in Anguilla in the Caribbean. They met in 2001, when Mendes approached Winslet about appearing in a play at the Donmar Warehouse Theater, where he was then artistic director. Their son, Joe Alfie Winslet Mendes, was born on 22 December 2003. Mendes also has a stepdaughter, Mia Honey Threapleton , from Winslet's first marriage to assistant director Jim Threapleton. The couple announced their separation on 15 March 2010 and are divorced.

In November 2011 a spokeman for Mendes confirmed that he and actress Rebecca Hall had been dating "for some time".

Mendes was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2000.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Sam Mendes", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.