Sam Mendes will not be returning to direct Bond 25. We know he said that about Spectre after debuting Skyfall, but this time he seems serious. Considering how long the director has been talking about the franchise’s commitment and struggles, there’s not much incentive for him to continue any further. While we should never say never when it comes to James Bond, Mendes reiterated his departure from the franchise with some pretty convincing reasons.
Deadline caught up with Mendes ahead of Spectre’s theatrical release, and the filmmaker likened the “regeneration” of the Bond franchise to Doctor Who, both of which have featured a slew of different actors in the title roles.
I grew up on Dr. Who, and its ideas of regeneration. People say, ‘Well, once you’ve acknowledged time passing and Bond getting older and characters dying, how do you continue the franchise?’ And the answer is you regenerate, and you have to be as brave as when they cast Daniel, and when they let M die. They have to go off in a completely different direction, into regenerating mythology. You cast a new actor and find a new director, and make something totally new. I can, off the top of my head, give you three or four ideas for where it could go next. They’re all daring and big. To me, the enemy is repetition and laziness, and the great danger is not challenging the preexisting format. These are my two chapters of the Bond myth. Someone else is going to write a chapter or 10 or 50, because Bond is strong enough for that, and because there’s enough to play with.
Mendes realizes he’s done this whole song and dance before after finishing work on Skyfall, but, based on his comments, he had a convincing reason to change his tune for Spectre. For him, this film was the conclusion of what began with Daniel Craig in Casino Royale.
There is a sense of completeness that wasn’t there at the end of Skyfall, and that’s what makes this feel different. It feels like there’s a rightness to it, that I have finished a journey. I’m not talking about Daniel here because Daniel may absolutely turn around six months’ time and feel his energy renewed. Or he might say just the opposite. If he is as sensible as I think he is, he needs to go away and have some time to think and do another job that’s completely different, which he’s already doing with Othello.
These statements echo some of what Mendes said earlier this year about how Bond is essentially “rebooted” at the end of Spectre, allowing for a whole new story — and 007 — to unfold. Craig has been debating leaving the franchise, as well, though he’s teasing his answer way more than Mendes. When last we heard on the subject, the actor said he was ready to move on, but that if he decided to come back for Bond 25, he’d only do it for the money.