Sam Mendes was a contrarian choice in many ways to direct Skyfall, but the result was the biggest box-office hit in the 50-year history of the James Bond franchise. Certainly, he was welcome to return for a follow-up, but when he begged-off to spend more time in the theater, speculating who will direct the next 007 installment became one of Hollywood’s best parlor games.
Well, cross Danny Boyle off the list. The Oscar-winning director of Slumdog Millionaire who oversaw a Bond production of sorts — the London Olympics opening ceremonies, which featured a Bond sendup with Daniel Craig and the Queen — told the Hollywood Reporter he’s not really interested. “I’m not really the guy for those movies,” he said, during promotion of his new thriller, Trance. “What we do, right, is we use genre — you take a genre, like [Trance] has got a few genres running in it, you use a genre to try and get you in the mainstream. It’s a vehicle to boost you into the mainstream. And then you f— with the genre. You twist it and change it and move it around. You can’t do it on those big movies. You genuflect in front of them. Too much money, too expectation. It’s the faith of the fans, it’s all that. You’ve got to be very careful. It’s very tempting of course — I love the movies, I love the books, but I’m not the right guy for those.”
After J.J. Abrams’ very public denials about directing the Star Wars sequels, we should never say never again about a filmmakers’ publicly-declared intentions, but you get the sense from the interview that Boyle’s “No, thanks” is the real deal. In fact, Boyle couldn’t help but express a little dismissiveness about “those big movies.” Which is just fine for fans who love Boyle’s work.
Boyle doesn’t exactly fit the mold of the typical Bond director. The Broccolis believe strongly in their proven formula, and they have been successful for decades without the touch of an auteur. Even Mendes sublimated his instincts — ingeniously — within the shell of the Bond framework. For all the accolades Skyfall brought Mendes, King Lear might not be the only reason he chose to pass on repeating the exercise.