Just a Minute With: Sam Mendes on "Revolutionary Road"

Thu Dec 25, 2008 6:03pm EST
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By Bob Tourtellotte

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Sam Mendes was already a top theater director when, at age 34, he burst onto Hollywood's scene with his film directorial debut, "American Beauty," a dark tale of dysfunction in a suburban family.

The movie earned five Oscars for 1999, including best picture and best director for Mendes. Since then, Mendes has directed two other dramas that look at dark sides of human nature, "The Road to Perdition" and "Jarhead."

His new movie, "Revolutionary Road," debuted in major U.S. cities on Christmas Day and will expand around the United States in coming weeks. But already the movie, which is based on Richard Yates' acclaimed novel about a frustrated suburban couple living in the 1950s, has earned widespread acclaim.

"Revolutionary Road" stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet (Mendes' wife) as the couple, Frank and April Wheeler, and Mendes took to talk to Reuters about his new movie.

Q: Yates novel has been read for decades, but it is set in the 1950s. What is it about the story that makes it timeless?

A: It deals with this idea, that I think a lot of people -- friends of mine, contemporaries and even me myself at certain points have felt -- which is that you somehow find yourself living a life you hadn't quite expected and certainly one that you didn't really want to live. You find yourself compromising the ideals and the dreams you had when you were younger.

Q: As audience members, it is difficult to look at Frank and April's marriage and not compare it to our own. Do you see any of your marriage in the lives of Frank and April?

A: I don't know about my own marriage. It is a cautionary tale. So if I said, 'I saw a lot of my own marriage in it,' I think it would be slightly worrying. (laughs)   Continued...

<p>Director of the movie Sam Mendes poses at the premiere of the movie "Revolutionary Road" at the Mann Village theatre in Westwood, California December 15, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>