The 23rd James Bond film, Skyfall, is finally set to hit U.S. theaters this Friday, and given the immense positive buzz surrounding the film, director Sam Mendes is poised to become very much in-demand for a number of studios’ large-scale projects. He’s already proven his talent at drama—he won the Best Directing Oscar for his feature debut American Beauty—but early word is that he’s crafted one hell of an action thriller with Skyfall. Mendes was actually set to make his genre debut a few years ago with an adaptation of the graphic novel series Preacher scripted by John Logan, but he eventually left that project to tackle Bond.
Steve recently sat down with Mendes for an extended video interview for Skyfall, but during the course of their conversation the director also talked a bit about Preacher. He discussed how Skyfall flexed the muscle he was trying stretch with Preacher, why the project never took off, the difficulty of adapting the story for the big screen, and the possibility of doing a serialized adaptation on television. Hit the jump to see what he had to say.
For those unfamiliar, Preacher tells the story of a preacher in a small Texas town who is accidentally possessed by a supernatural creature named Genesis, the product of an unnatural coupling between an angel and a demon. He journeys across the United States with a strong sense of right and wrong, attempting to literally find God and wrangle his newfound powers.
When Mendes fell off of Preacher, D.J. Caruso came aboard briefly before also leaving the project. Steve asked Mendes if the project was now entirely off his radar, and the director responded by talking about how Skyfall has essentially made the prospect of him returning to Preacher highly unlikely:
“Well it’s off my radar because the muscle that I wanted to kind of flex, the urge to do something like that, went into [Skyfall]. For a while I wanted to do something on a bigger scale, I wanted to try and tackle a movie that wasn’t entirely real and I wanted to see whether I was capable of directing action, so I feel like I’ve done a lot of it in this movie.”
More to the point, though, Mendes said he never really found a good way to make Preacher work:
“The other problem was I could not find a way of making Preacher—tonally it’s a very difficult thing to make work, and there’s a reason why it’s struggled so much. It’s a brilliant graphic novel, I loved it, but a lot of it takes place in the real world and we’re surrounded now by fantasy and superhero genre pictures which are full of eye candy. And actually, Preacher is much more real world, it’s more of a Southern Gothic with elements of the fantastic in it; it’s a quite difficult thing to balance. So it wasn’t just that I sort of walked away from it because they wouldn’t pay for it or anything like that, it was because I couldn’t really make it work, I couldn’t find a way of defining what it was onscreen. My strong suspicion is someone will come along who has a really good take on it and is able to do it.”
“No, it was clear after a while I just didn’t have the answer. And also that thing that you hope will happen as a director, where a little switch is flicked inside you and you think ‘Yes I’ve got it, I know how to do this,’ I never found the way.”
With the incredible storytelling currently taking place on cable television, Steve asked Mendes if he could see Preacher making a successful adaptation on the small screen, to which he replied affirmatively:
“I do, actually. If you look at somewhere between Sons of Anarchy, The Walking Dead, True Blood—that world of real but fantasy, the two mixed, it’s young and sexy and it’s got many, many chapters. Actually when I saw that it was a possible HBO or a possible cable show, I thought ‘that’s a great way to do it,’ because then you can let it develop gradually, because there’s also a huge amount of it.”
Watch the portion of Steve’s interview with Mendes concerning Preacher below, and look for much more from the full interview later this week: