Right when the blogosophere began spreading the news that Nicolas Winding Refn seemed to divulge he's in contention to helm the next Bond movie, a report surfaced saying Sam Mendes is back in the game.
Mendes, who directed "Skyfall" and said he was done with the franchise, is in talks to take on the next Bond film, according to Deadline.
Refn, the director of "Drive," seemed coy on the topic at Cannes when asked whether he was attached to the epic spy series -- leading some to speculate whether he is in contention.
One of Hollywood's favorite guessing games in recent months has been "Who's directing the next James Bond movie?" Other names that have been thrown around include Ang Lee and Christopher Nolan.
Helming a Bond picture has always been a prestige assignment, and Eon Productions and Sony Pictures are especially eager to get the next 007 project under way, given the remarkable commercial and critical success of last year's "Skyfall." With John Logan (who penned "Skyfall") at work on a screenplay, Eon is now searching for the right director, and movie news site Firstshowing.net reported that Nicolas Winding Refn is near the top of their wish list for the assignment. Refn is the Denmark-based filmmaker who wowed critics with the brutal and offbeat Viking tale "Valhalla Rising" and broke through in the States with the violent but low-key crime drama "Drive."
As is often the case with such stories, Firstshowing are citing unnamed inside sources with their scoop. However, one of their writers interviewed Refn on camera, and asked him point blank about the rumors that he would be directing the next Bond flick. "Where did you hear that?" Refn replied with a vague, quizzical smile, and after a long pause, he added, "I love Bond … I love him." Despite the brief hint of a grin, Refn maintained a poker face while mentioning 007's name, so his failure to answer the question could mean everything and nothing. Look at the clip and judge for yourself.
While Refn would be an interesting choice to direct Bond 24, it would also be controversial – Refn's taste for violence could take the project outside the PG-13 boundaries of the franchise, and his style, at once aggressive and languid, would hardly be a comfortable match with what folks expect from the suave super spy. And Eon may have second thoughts about Refn given the hostile reviews that greeted his new film, "Only God Forgives," following its premiere last week at the Cannes Film Festival. Time's Richard Corliss wrote of "Only God Forgives," "The collision of violent spasms and art-film ennui leave the viewer’s brain bloody but unfilled," while Robbie Collin of the Telegraph called the movie "the spectacle of a brilliant young director spinning out in style. It’s a beautiful disaster."
A story published Tuesday in the respected industry journal Variety also cited Refn as a possible candidate for Bond 24, but mentioned a handful of other directors who are also said to be in talks for the movie. Their sources say other candidates include Ang Lee, a stylish hand with genre fare whose credits include "Life of Pi" and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon;" Shane Black, currently riding high on the success of "Iron Man 3;" Tom Hooper, the filmmaker behind "The King's Speech" and "Les Miserables;" and David Yates, who directed four installments in the "Harry Potter" franchise. Sam Mendes, the director of "Skyfall," was an early favorite to come back for a second Bond flick, but he's bowed out to focus on other projects. And Danny Boyle, who made "Slumdog Millionaire" and "Trainspotting," claims he turned Bond 24 down, saying "I love the movies, I love the books, but I'm not the right guy for those."
And according to Variety, Daniel Craig may have a bigger say this time in who will be working behind the camera on his next Bond effort. Given the massive success of "Skyfall," Craig and his representatives are said to be angling for a much bigger payday for the actor, and reportedly want director approval to be part of his contract. With that in mind, Refn, Mendes, and the other guys in the running might want to send Craig a nice fruit basket in the near future.