MI6 takes a look back at the careers of the James Bond film directors, from 1995 to 2012...

Update [10th April 2011]: Marc Forster and Sam Mendes.

James Bond Directors (2)
14th September 2006 / 10th April 2011

Previously, MI6 looked into the lives and work of the early Bond directors. Click here to read part 1.

Martin Campbell
Date of Birth: 24 October 1944
Bond Films: GoldenEye, Casino Royale


New Zealand born, Campbell moved to London in 1966 where he developed a career in television. From there his role in the film industry took off. He landed jobs such as producer on "Scum" (1966) and "Black Joy" (1979) before getting his first directorial job on the BBC's TV series "The Professionals".

Campbell directed a variety of films and series' before his claim to fame and recognition came in 1998. "The Mask of Zorro" was popular with both critics and casual viewers receiving two Oscar nominations and two Golden Globes. Since then, Campbell has been in the directors chair on several big budget films, including "Vertical Limit", "Beyond Borders", "GoldenEye" and just out this year, "The Legend of Zorro" the sequel to the film that brought him into the spotlight.

In 2005-6 Campbell returned to the 007 family to helm the 21st Bond picture, "Casino Royale". Since the success of "Royale", Campbell pulled together an all-star cast, lead by Mel Gibson to shoot a big-budget adaptation of his '80s TV success, "Edge of Darkness" and fans are awaiting his forthcoming "Green Lantern" flick.

Son of Canadian producer Raymond Spottiswoode, Roger spent much of his childhood in Britain, but traveled wherever his father's work carried him. He entered into the movie industry as an editor of minor documentaries, but his talent was soon brought forward, and in 1971 he was invited to cut a Sam Peckinpah feature film entitled "Straw Dogs".

Spottiswoode worked as editor on two other Peckinpah films, "The Getaway" (1972), and "Pat Garrett" (1973), which firmly established his career in the industry. However, like every name in the movie industry, Spottiswoode had to be content with minor editing for TV and a few feature films before landing the director's chair.

Roger Spottiswoode
Date of Birth: 05 January 1945
Bond Films: Tomorrow Never Dies

His directorial debut came in 1980 and starred Jamie Lee Curtis. This was an unmemorable "slasher" horror, entitled "Terror Train". However, from here, his career blossomed and his talents expanded to writing, when he co-penned "48-Hours" (an Eddie Murphy flick) with Walter Hill, among others.

The 1997 Bond adventure is without a doubt, one of the highlights of his career. Spottiswoode directed Pierce Brosnan as James Bond in the action-packed thriller that was "Tomorrow Never Dies". Post Bond, Spottiswoode took a break from the movie game and returned in 2000 to direct the action/adventure "The 6th Day", starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Michael Apted
Date of Birth: 02 October 1941
Bond Films: The World is not Enough


Apted began life as the son of an insurance agent in Buckinghamshire. He attended a public school and went on to excel at law and history at Cambridge University.

He entered the film industry as a trainee researcher for Granada Television. He soon found himself working on the TV programme "Up!", a documentary following the life of children from the age of seven though to 24. As the Granada researcher, Apted was tasked with finding suitable subjects for the project. Later, he would receive a chance to helm the series as its director.

After directing "Up!", and at the tender age of 22, Apted was asked to direct the popular British soap, "Coronation Street", where he collaborated with "Corrie" writer, Jack Rosenthal.

Apted would find himself working regularly with Rosenthal on projects such as "The Dustbinmen" and "The Lovers".

His television career sprung and Apted became a recognizable figure of the British TV scene after wining "Best Dramatic Director" at the British Academy Awards. In 1972 Oliver Reed and Glenda Jackson starred in Michael Apted's first feature film, "The Triple Echo". Impressed with his work, British producer and politician David Putnam grabbed Apted and put him at the helm of his mini series, "Play for Today". 1979 saw Apted entering the Hollywood world, when he was given the chance to direct Vanessa Redgrave in the film "Agatha". After the success of "Agatha", Apted moved to the US to direct "Coal Miner's Daughter" - which picked up seven Academy Awards nominations and Sissy Spacek, "Coal Miner's Daughter" star, took home the best Actress award.

In 1999, Apted helmed the Bond outing "The World Is Not Enough". Apted was considered an odd choice for the role, as he had very little experience with action/adventure films - as his is much the genre of drama. Nevertheless, Apted focused in on the characters, leving the stunts to the second unit, and trotted out a noteworthy James Bond picture. In 2003, Apted was elected President of the Director's Guild of America.

Born in New Zealand to a British father and a Maori mother, Tamahori got started in life as a photographer. He got into New Zealand film industry in the late '70s as a boom operator. But by the 1980s, Tamahori had worked his way into the role of assistant director.

He made his feature film debut directing "Once Were Warriors", based on Alan Duff's highly controversial novel. Tamahori made his way into the Hollywood spotlight with "Mulholland Falls", a crime drama starring the like of Michael Madsen and John Malkovich.

From here, Tamahori got into directing advertisements, and for these he won several awards. These awards included a Mobius (USA), Facts (Australia) and Axis (New Zealand).

Lee Tamahori
Date of Birth: 17 June 1950
Bond Films: Die Another Day

More recently, Tamahori has directed films such as "Along Came a Spider" (2001), "xXx: State of the Union" (2005) and of course, the 20th Bond picture, "Die Another Day" (2002).

Marc Forster
Date of Birth: 30 November 1969
Bond Films: Quantum of Solace


Born in Ulm, Germany in 1969, Forster spent much of his youth in Switzerland. Aged 12, the filmmaking bug caught young Marc, after viewing Francis Ford Coppola's epic "Apocalypse Now".

Aged 20, Forster moved to New York city to study cinema at New York University Film School. At university, Marc shot a number of documentaries before trying his hand at a drama. His first picture cost less than $10,000 and was entitled "Loungers". Despite the rudimentary budget and production values, the drama won acclaim at the Slamdance Audience Awards.

Following two more successful films shot in the Big Apple, Forster moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in Hollywood.

Forster was cautious in his entry to the hub of movie magic, declining several offers before settling on "Monsters Ball". With Halle Berry headlining the cast, Forster's Oscar-winning dabble in Hollywood proved a massive success.

He opted to helm the story of Sir John Matthew Barrie, "Finding Neverland", (where he worked with Hollywood hot property, Johnny Depp) over the third outing of another British icon, Harry Potter. Prior to taking on 007 in 2008, Marc directed Will Ferrell - normally a loud, slapstick actor - in the more sedate comedy "Stranger Than Fiction", followed by Afghanistan-set "The Kite Runner". For the latter, Forster and his team shot extensively on location in China.

After his stint with Bond, where he became the first non-Commonwealth director to work on a Bond film, Forster took a break from the directors chair, returning recently to helm "Machine Gun Preacher" (2011), the story of Sam Childers: a drug dealer turned evangelist.

Born in Reading, UK to academic James Mendes and mother Valerie Mendes, a children's author, Sam attended Cambridge - where he was enrolled in Peterhouse - and after graduating in 1987, found a place at the Chichester Festival Theatre.

Mendes carved himself a place in British theatre. He began at Donmar Warehouse, a small London theatre but quickly his productions became more grand. He directed Dame Judi Dench in "The Cherry Orchard" and helmed two successful London productions: the touching drama, "The Glass Menagerie" and Stephen Sondheim's musical, "Company". Both earned Sam Laurence Olivier Awards in '96. In the case of the latter, he was responsible for casting the first African American to carry the lead in "Company". He put a unique spin on "Oliver!", the musical adaptation of Dickensian novel "Oliver Twist". Sam's direction for this production quickly met with critics' approval and even re-opened on the West End in 2008.

Later, Sam worked with Bond alumni Alan Cumming on a raucous version of Kander and Ebb's "Cabaret" and directed a successful run of "Merrily We Roll Along".

Sam Mendes
Date of Birth: 1 August 1965
Bond Films: James Bond 23

The opportunity to work in Hollywood called in the late '90s, when he worked with television stalwart, Alan Ball on "American Beauty" (1999). Cleverly subverting the 'ideal' American Dream, the film was both a success at the box office and in the eyes of almost all reviewers.

"American Beauty" was followed up with the ideologically charged period piece "Road to Perdition", in which he cast incumbent 007, Daniel Craig. In interviews much later, Mendes admitted that Craig blew the audition but he cast the British hard-man regardless.

Each of the five feature films Mendes has taken on to date has received high volume media and industry attention, almost always translating into box office and critical successes. Bond 23 will be his sixth film at the helm. Between movies, Mendes maintains an active career in the London theatre ring. Mendes married Kate Winslet in 2003 - the pair are currently separated. It was Winslet who let slip that Mendes was moving to London to work on the new 007 adventure.

Related Articles
James Bond Directors (1962 - 1989)
Biography Index

Recent Articles - Biography
  • Brett Jones
  • Dan Goozee (1943-2024)
  • Pamela Salem (1944-2024)
  • Alec Mills (1932-2024)
  • In Memoriam 2023
  • Chaim Topol (1935-2023)
  • Ricou Browning (1930-2023)