The Midas touch
From Oliviers to Tonys to Oscars, SAM MENDES has won every award going. But how long can his golden touch last?
\"(ortlsx Miles Fielder
ichael l’alin once e\claimcd to the late. great (irahani (’hapman that his accidental mamr Brian (in lion/t I’ll/1(an life of] . .) was a 'luck}. lule hastard‘. That same hacls—handed complitnent cottld he applied to Sam .\lendes. The theatre director’s last shot at lilmmaking. Amer/tun limurr. scored a \xhopping li\'e .'\cadem_\ :\\\ards including Best Picture Lttltl Best Director. Once the lllllc‘ gnltlc‘ll gc‘c‘lc‘l's \\ c‘l'L‘ ltlslztllc‘tl lll .\lcndes~ home. his salar} rose hour the SlStllltlll he got l'or directing .l/iit'r/t'un Benn/i to \ 1 .3m l'or his second lihn. Road In l’t'I‘r/I'Il'on. That‘s a pa)‘ rise ol‘ almost a lactor ol' ten. \ot had l-ol' a .‘x7-_\ear—old hlols'e li'om suhurhan Reading.
lle e\perienced similar good l'ortune \tith the theatre directing career that e\entuall} sent him to Hollywood. l'pon graduating l'rom ('amhridgc l‘ni\ersit_\ in NW he joined the (‘hichester l'csti\al 'l‘hcatre. shortl} alter \xhich he directed l)atnc .ludi l)ench in The ('lit'njr ()rt'lmnl and won a ('rities (‘irclc .v\\\ard l‘or hest nc\\comer. less than three )ears later. .\lendes \tas onhoat'd at the Ro_\al Shakespeare ('ompan} where he directed Ralph l‘icnnes in 'li‘o/lus um/ ( 'n'ssi't/u and picked up an ()li\ ier .v\\\artl nomination l‘or his production ol~ '/'/ic 'lé'm/u'sl. (ii\eu this lllsltil'}. arc _\ott surprised that Sam's nickname is 'Xlltl‘th \lc‘lltlc‘si'.)
'l'herc‘s more. ;\s a result ol‘ the e\traordinar} success ol~ .'\/ll(’l’l('(lll li’t'uult'. the ﬁlms linancial hacker. l)ream\\'orlss. oll'ercd \lentles hig huclss to he its l'a\ouretl director l'or hire. \Vhen \lendes politel} rcl‘used. co—ouner Ste\en Spiclherg responded h_\ gi\ing him a lirst-lools option on all material de\clopcd at his stttdio and lltl\\ piclss up the tah l'or .\lentles' (m n l.ondonv hasetl production ollicc. l5ttrthermorc. .\lendcs \xas suhscttttentl} \HNlL‘tl h_\ another lloll}\\ood “underlsintl. this
22 THE LIST
time SteVen Soderhergh. \\'llt) wanted him to join lam. a lilmtnaker collecthe composed ol‘ such luminaries as l)a\id l‘incher. Spike have and .'\le\ander l’a} ne. .-\s \\ ith Spielherg‘s ol‘l‘er. .\lendes tttrned it doun. \exerthcless. he and Soderhergh remain hest pals. swapping notes ahottt their lilms.
Then there are the ladies: .lane llot'roclss. ('alista l5loclshart. Rachel \Veis/ and most recentl) Kate \Vinslet all dating .\lendcs. .'\nd let me just casuall} throu in this: in letlll '.\lidas \\';t\ named (‘ommander ol‘ the Order ol‘ the British limpire h_\‘ the Queen.
lt‘s unsurprising. then. that \xith all this adoration coming trotn e\er) direction. merynw \xho’s ;tn_\one \x'ants to \xorls \xith .\lendes and e\perience his golden tottch. ’l‘htts. It’mu/ Io Pen/[lion has attracted a remarlsahlc pool ol‘ talent it‘s got prestige up the \x'a/oo. Tom Hanks. the most hankahle and ()scai‘-li‘ientll_\ ol‘actors. lill\L‘\ the lead as
'Unless you are a very unusual movie director, pressure has to turn you on'
an assassin reaping rc\'cnge on his old tnoh hoss in 3lls (‘hicago l’aul .\'e\\man. \xho. late in Me is quite picl\_\ ahout \xhat roles he talscs. signed on .\lendcs' dotted line to play the \illain. .\lcan\\hile. the prettiest ol‘ talented actors. .lttde Ian and .lennil‘er .lason l.eigh. round out the cast.
So. nou .\lendes gets to sa} impresshe. scll3cllacing stull lilse: 'llou can _\ou not admire 'l‘om llanlss'.’ He‘s an ama/ing actor. httt \xhat‘s e\en hctter than ha\ ing a great actor is ha\ ing a great actor \tho's ne\ er hcl‘ore done uhat the part is asking ol him. His Michael Sullivan is a \er) tlarls. \er} in) stcriotts man.’
.'\nd .\lendes on \cuman: 'l’attl \\as ill\\;l_\\ honing his