Sam Mendes was born in Redding, England. He admits it was, "one of the more boring towns, [and] not a great place to be born. I wish I'd been born in a more glamorous place, but I grew up in London and moved to Oxford when I was about 12. My mum was a publisher. Then back to London in my 20s . . . so I feel I'm a Londoner."
While in London, his fame grew in the West End with several hit productions, including the award-winning production of The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, as well as Cabaret, which attracted the interest of both theatre and movie circles alike. The production moved to Broadway, where Mendes remained to direct The Blue Room with Nicole Kidman.
"I love America. I like being there, the culture of movies. There are problems as there are in any society, but I'm not anti-American. I love NY particularly; LA is an acquired taste which I haven't quite acquired (laughs)."
When director Steven Spielburg saw Mendes' Cabaret on Broadway, he decided to meet the young director and showed him the script for American Beauty. Mendes said that after he read the script, he found it "so exciting and so new and so original and so full of life and so difficult that I thought, 'I'm going to do this movie. There's never going to be a better time.'"
He confesses that it took him 10 years to make the transition from stage to screen direction because, as he told the London Sunday Telegraph, "I was so nervous ... of making mistakes that I kind of froze."
While shooting American Beauty, Mendes absorbed information about lenses and camera movement, lighting and coverage. "I learnt an astonishing number of things - and especially about myself: to me this a much more personal piece of work than anything I've done on stage." And he couldn't be more right. In 1999, he won the People's Choice Award for the film, and in 2000, he won a Golden Globe award for Best Picture, and an Academy Award for Best Director. Mendes continued to helm well-received films but in 2012 he really got people talking when he took on the task of directing the 23rd installment in the iconic James Bond franchise Skyfall.
In 2015, he directed the 24th installment in the James Bond franchise, Spectre. In 2019, he directed the critically acclaimed First World War drama 1917, for which he won a Golden Globe for Best Picture in the drama category. He also won a Golden Globe for Best Director and received Academy Award nominations for Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture.
During the 2020 New Year Honours in England, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to drama.
In 2003, he married actor Kate Winslet, with whom he has a son. He directed her in the critically-acclaimed film Revolutionary Road (2008), for which she won a Golden Globe. They were divorced in 2011, and he married Alison Balsom in January 2017, with whom he has a daughter.
Away We Go (2009)
Revolutionary Road (2008)
Sweeney Todd (2005)
Road to Perdition (2002)
American Beauty (1999)