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Shakespeare and James Bond 'very similar', says Sam Mendes

21st June 2012 - 4pm

There are many similarities between William Shakespeare and James Bond, according to filmmaker Sam Mendes, who is directing the latest 007 film and also producing a series of adaptations of the Bard's work for the BBC.

Speaking on Radio 4's Front Row programme, the Oscar-winning director noted that both Bond and Shakespeare are established British icons and the general public has an insatiable appetite for anything pertaining to them.

Mendes is currently putting the finishing touches to Skyfall, the latest instalment in the James Bond film series, and said the experience of dealing with characters that already exist is not unlike adapting a Shakespeare play.

He is currently producing BBC dramatisations of Richard II, Henry IV Parts I and II and Henry V, which are scheduled to air from June as part of the BBC's Shakespeare Unlocked season.

According to the 46-year-old, the key to the success of the adaptations will be staying true to the public's perception of the plays - much like it is with making a new James Bond film, where viewers expect to see certain plot devices and are disappointed if they are not present.

On his involvement with the two projects, he commented: 'There are actually quite strong similarities. You have a kind of familiarity with it. With Shakespeare, it is not an unusual feeling to deal with characters like Bond that already exist.'

The only difference will be that, unlike previous James Bond films such as Live and Let Die or The Spy Who Loved Me, which were based on Ian Fleming's original 007 novels, Skyfall is a completely new adventure.

'You don't have that certainty that you have with Shakespeare, that there is a structure there that will hold you, a story that fundamentally works that has been tried and tested over many years,' Mendes added.

This year is set to be a busy one for the director, who will soon begin work on the stage adaptation of Roald Dahl's beloved children's book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which is set to open at the London Palladium in June 2013.

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