He began his career in the theatre as Assistant Director at the Studio
Theatre in Chichester in 1987 and was the first Artistic Director of the Minerva
Theatre in 1989. By 1990, he was directing for the RSC. His work for them
included highly acclaimed versions of "Troilus and Cressida," "The Alchemist,"
"The Tempest," and "Richard III." He also directed for the National Theatre
productions of "The Sea," "The Rise and Fall of Little Voice," "The Birthday
Party," and "Othello."
In 1992, Mendes founded the Donmar Warehouse in London, which he ran as
Artistic Director until 2002. Within this time Mendes helped establish the
theatre as one of the most dynamic and successful playhouses in the world. His
productions there included "Assassins," "Translations," "Cabaret," "Glengarry
Glen Ross," "The Glass Menagerie," "Company," "Habeas Corpus," "The Front Page,"
"The Blue Room," "To The Green Fields Beyond," "Uncle Vanya," and "Twelfth
Night," both of which transferred to The Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2004.
Mendes won a number of Olivier Awards during this period, including an
unprecedented three awards in 2003, two for his work on "Uncle Vanya" and
"Twelfth Night," and one in recognition of the Donmar's decade-long period of
success under his guidance. Several productions transferred to Broadway, and
Mendes won Tony Awards as a producer of both "The Real Thing" and "Take Me Out."
Other work outside of The Donmar has included directing West End productions
of "The Cherry Orchard," "The Plough and the Stars" (both starring Judi Dench),
"Kean," "London Assurance," and "Oliver!," which ran for four years at the
London Palladium. On Broadway, Mendes directed "The Blue Room," "Gypsy," "The
Vertical Hour," and his long-running production of "Cabaret," which received
four Tony Awards including Best Musical Revival.
In Spring 2009, Mendes embarked on The Bridge Project, a three-year venture
co-produced by his company, Neal Street Productions, the Brooklyn Academy of
Music and the Old Vic, London. In this unique collaboration, Mendes directed a
transatlantic company in a double-bill of classic plays, which began with "A
Winter's Tale" and "The Cherry Orchard," led by longtime collaborator Simon
Russell Beale and Ethan Hawke. In the second season of The Bridge Project,
Mendes directed an international company led by Stephen Dillane in "As You Like
It" and "The Tempest." In 2011/2012 his production of "Richard III", starring
Kevin Spacey, toured the world.
Mendes' film work began in 1999 with his film directorial debut, American
Beauty, for which he received the Academy Award for Best Director as well as a
Golden Globe and the DGA award for Outstanding Direction. The film won a further
four Academy Awards , including Best Picture.
This was followed in 2002 by the movie adaptation of the graphic novel Road
to Perdition, starring Tom Hanks and Paul Newman. The film earned seven Academy
Award nominations. Mendes then returned to the screen in 2006 directing
Jarhead, an adaptation of Anthony Swofford's book of the same name, starring
Jake Gyllenhaal, Jamie Foxx and Peter Sarsgaard.
Mendes' next film, Revolutionary Road, was released in 2009. Based on the
novel by Richard Yates and starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, the film
earned three Academy Award nominations and won one Golden Globe. Most recently,
Mendes directed the comedy Away We Go, based on an original screenplay written
by novelists Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida.
As well as working as a director, Mendes acts as Executive Producer on all
Neal Street projects and has also produced and executive produced films and
theatre, most recently Things We Lost In The Fire, directed by Susanne Bier,
starring Halle Berry and Benicio Del Toro; Starter For Ten; Stuart - A Life
Backwards, The Kite Runner, four of Shakespeare's History plays - "Richard III,"
"Henry IV" Parts I and II, and "Henry V" - for the BBC/NBC Universal and WNET
under the title "The Hollow Crown", and "Shrek the Musical."
Mendes' work in theatre and film brought him a CBE in 2000, for services to
the arts, and the Director's Guild Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.
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