Bond Alum Sam Mendes On How ‘Exhausting’ The Franchise Is, And Why It’ll Be Difficult To Replace Daniel Craig

Daniel Craig's James Bond holding a gun
(Image credit: MGM)

Sam Mendes is an Oscar-winning director and helmed two James Bond films starring Daniel Craig -- Spectre and Skyfall. Both were massive hits and are strong additions to Mendes’ filmography as well as being favorites amongst Bond fans. Mendes knows first hand how difficult making a 007 film can be, partially stemming from the 60 years of history behind the franchise. The acclaimed director recently got candid about the "exhausting" challenges -- and why moving on from Daniel Craig may be tough.

In a recent interview with Deadline, Sam Mendes detailed his feelings about his experience directing two Bond films. He talked about how intensive helming such a production is when you have to take world-building into account. He found the process tiresome, saying:

It’s like erecting scaffolding and building an entire world… It’s exhausting, in a different way.

It’s clear that the 007 films were complicated projects for Sam Mendes, which is saying a lot considering that he's helmed ambitious productions like Jarhead and 1917. OF Of course, what will be even more difficult, in his mind, is the search for a new lead. Many would probably agree that Daniel Craig’s departure left a major hole in the franchise and, since the release of No Time to Die, many have been wondering how the producers will proceed. During the same interview, Mendes provides some honest thoughts on the task that lies ahead of franchise producer Barbara Broccoli, saying:

I don’t envy Barbara having to follow Daniel’s [Craig] five movies. He reinvigorated the franchise but the franchise is so huge that it’s very difficult for a younger actor to step into that.

Honestly, I can't say that I envy the producer and her team, either. Despite initial backlash around his casting, Daniel Craig was beloved in the role and made the character his own. The studio has yet to announce who will be replacing him, and several names have been thrown around to play the titular character. This includes Man of Steel actor Henry Cavill and Idris Elba, who has been a longtime fan favorite. Some suggest the best way to reimagine the franchise is to make 007 female. IT's not a bad thought to have a woman in front of and behind the camera. Phoebe Waller-Bridge contributed to the No Time To Die script, so clearly a female voice can be a positive influence on the character. 

As for Sam Mendes, I don't think he will return to Bond in a post-Daniel Craig world. This doesn’t mean the visionary hasn’t been plenty busy. His film Empire of Light, starring Olivia Coleman, premiered at the Telluride Film Festival and will be released theatrically in December. The film is about cinema and love and takes place on the English seaside in the 1980s. For the film, Mendes reunited with Skyfall cinematographer Roger Deakins, with whom he also collaborated with on several other movies. So Bond or not, rest assured that Mendes has other things on his plate.

It may be a while before we see another 007 film but, in the meantime you can watch Sam Mendes’ Skyfall, which is currently streaming for Netflix subscribers. Also, catch up on the history of James Bond movies ahead of the next era in the franchise. 

Caroline Young

Writer, podcaster, CinemaBlend contributor, film and television nerd, enthusiastic person. Hoping to bring undying passion for storytelling to CinemaBlend.