Mendes, Sam

Sam Mendes CBE is a stage and film director. He was born in 1965 in Reading to an English-Jewish mother, a children’s book writer, and a University Professor of Trinidadian descent.

Mendes joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he made a name for himself directing many successful plays featuring well-known actors. In 1990, he became the artistic director of Donmar Warehouse, which he transformed into one of the most flourishing theatres in London, directing a number of award-winning productions.

He won the Golden Globe as well as the Academy Award for best director for his film debut American Beauty  (1999). This success was followed by an array of other highly successful films, alongside theatre productions. In 2000, Mendes received the Alfred Toepfer Foundation’s Shakespeare Prize and was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by the Queen in recognition of his ‘services to drama’. In 2005 his lifetime achievement was awarded by the Directors Guild of Great Britain.

In 2018, he directed The Lehman Trilogy at the National Theatre’s Lyttleton stage, to great critical acclaim. The Lehman Trilogy is an epic play on the dynasty of German-Jewish immigrants building a banking Empire in the USA, adapted by Ben Power from the play by Stefano Massimi. The title role of Chaim (Henry), the eldest and first of the Orthodox Jews to leave Germany, is played by Simon Russell Beale. The Lehman Trilogy transferred to Broadway in 2020. This was later rescheduled due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, and resumed in 2021. The play received 8 Tony Award nominations, winning 5, including Best Play and Best Director of a Play in 2022. Mendes also received a Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play for The Ferryman in 2019.

Mendes’ 2019 movie, 1917, won a BAFTA and a Golden Globe for Best Director, whilst also gaining Academy Award nominations for Best Director, Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. In 2020, Mendes won the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing´- Feature Film for 1917. His next feature film was the Empire of Light (2022) which starred Oliva Coleman and Micheal Ward.