Sam Mendes: the next James Bond “will not be what you expect”

The director of Skyfall and Spectre confirms he will not be back to direct the next instalment – but hints that the next 007 will be a surprise

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Bond has hit the headlines recently, with rumours swirling that Daniel Craig is ready to hand in his licence to kill. But while speculation mounts as to who will succeed him, director Sam Mendes has confirmed – categorically, this time – that he won’t be directing the next instalment. 

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“It was an incredible adventure, I loved every second of it, but I think it’s time for somebody else,” he told an audience at Hay Festival yesterday. 

Mendes – who directed both Skyfall and Spectre – has spent five years working on the franchise and says he’s ready for a new challenge. “I’m a storyteller. And at the end of the day, I want to make stories with new characters.”

The director had previously said he thought Spectre, which was released last November, would be his final film, but added that he’d said the same after completing Skyfall. “I said no to the last one and then ended up doing it and was pilloried by all my friends, including Atherton [former England cricket captain Mike Atherton] who took great pleasure in reminding me that I said no to the last one and ended up doing it,” he told Radio 5’s Jonathan Agnew. 

Mendes also touched on the rumoured contenders to play the next 007, a list that includes Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba, Tom Hardy and Aidan Turner. The bookmakers have backed the group, but the director reckons lobbying by fans is pointless as the decision is taken solely by series producer Barbara Broccoli. “It’s not a democracy. Barbara Broccoli decides who is going to be the next Bond, end of story.”

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But he did add: “I can guarantee whatever happens with it, it will not be what you expect. That’s what she [Broccoli] has been brilliant at, and that’s how it’ll survive.”