Sam Mendes on Kate, Chekhov and cricket

Posted by · 1:05 pm · June 9th, 2009

Sam Mendes and Kate WinsletPerhaps it’s telling that this recent Times interview with Sam Mendes mentions his latest film “Away We Go” in a single sentence, while focusing rather more attention on his upcoming theatrical double-bill, directing Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard” and Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” for Kevin Spacey’s Old Vic in London. I have yet to see the thus-far coolly received new film (I’ll catch up with it in Edinburgh next week), but I’ve booked my theater tickets — and I know which evening I’m more excited about.

Be that as it may, it goes to demonstrate just what a busy guy he is at the moment: not many people can claim to have unveiled two major feature films and a weighty stage project in a six-month period. Not content with that, he also finds time to play cricket for a county team — there’s something I didn’t know.

As the interview makes clear, Mendes’ sudden spurt of creativity is a sort of compensation for four rather quiet years which he devoted to raising his young family. I hope he maintains the newfound energy level, given the variable nature of his filmography thus far — for a gifted filmmaker, inconsistency is best accompanied by prolificacy. (Ask Woody Allen or Clint Eastwood.)

The interview also contains some interesting thoughts on the relative difficulty (or otherwise) of directing his wife to harrowing effect in “Revolutionary Road,” and also raises the possibility of them collaborating again, this time time on stage:

So will Mendes direct her again? “We’d like that, but what’s right for her isn’t necessarily right for me and vice versa. The worst thing you can do is bend yourself into a pretzel for another person because you feel you are doing them a favour.” Recently, they discussed her return to the stage, maybe in Pinter’s Betrayal: “She looked at it and said, ‘It’s a masterpiece but a play about infidelity and I’ve just done Little Children and Revolutionary Road, movies about middle-class marriages in crisis’. She didn’t even get to the end of the sentence before I said, ‘No, do something else’.” That “something else” remains undecided.

Yeah, as comfortable a fit as “Betrayal” sounds for both talents, I’m glad they’ve agreed to cast their net a bit wider. As someone who thinks Winslet has always done her best work in comedy — Nancy Meyers-directed ones excepted, of course — I’d be interested to see him steer her in that direction. When he has time, of course.

→ 10 Comments Tags: , , , | Filed in: Daily

10 responses so far

  • 1 6-09-2009 at 2:22 pm

    Mike said...

    I love Kate Winslet. I hope she does something really good next, i agree with the comedy thing

  • 2 6-09-2009 at 4:32 pm

    Jim said...

    I had once thought that she should play Lady Macbeth but in a film for the sole reason that in this case I’ll be able to watch her (although I was almost ready to fly to London to experience Dench’s magic in Madame De Sade (has anyone here seen that play?)).

    Perhaps she’s a bit young though.

    Eureka! Comedy now, (it would be good timing, enough with the drama) and Macbeth after that. Alright, the only thing left is for Kate to read my brilliant advice.

    PS: I’m not in delirium although it may appear that way. :p

  • 3 6-09-2009 at 4:35 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Funny you should say that, Jim … I saw “Madame de Sade” two weeks ago.

  • 4 6-09-2009 at 5:26 pm

    Jim said...


    And I thought you might have!! Did you enjoy the play and the performance? Should I feel bad that I didn’t follow my heart?
    (Although the trip would be tiring and my English isn’t perfect but still…)

  • 5 6-09-2009 at 11:56 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    I can’t say I’d have crossed an ocean for it, if that helps.

    Beautifully staged, beautifully performed (Dench and Rosamund Pike are both very strong), but the play itself is somewhat inert.

  • 6 6-10-2009 at 12:33 pm

    El Rocho said...

    Mendes is a formidable talent. I think he’s on his way to great things.

  • 7 6-10-2009 at 2:22 pm

    Ben M. said...

    I saw Mendes’ The Cherry Orchard when it was in New York a few months ago, I felt it was a pretty strong production. Would have loved to have seen Winter’s Tale, particularly since unlike Cherry Orchard I have never seen a previous production of that play.

  • 8 6-11-2009 at 4:00 am

    AdamL said...

    Variable nature of his filmography?!

    I rank them A+, A+, A- and A-!

  • 9 6-11-2009 at 4:06 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Which one are you missing there? “Away We Go?”

  • 10 6-11-2009 at 2:14 pm

    AdamL said...

    Yep, not seen his latest.