stage and film director
British stage director who took Hollywood by storm—and surprise—with his feature film directorial debut, American Beauty (1999), a dark comedy that shatters any illusions about suburbia. Mendes won a Best Director Oscar, and the film, which struck a chord with audiences, proving both emasculating and empowering, also won Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Cinematography. The win put Mendes on Tinseltown's A-list, though he said the stage is his preferred medium and he has no burning desire to return to feature filmmaking.
After graduating from Cambridge University, Mendes rapidly became a member of London's theater elite. He staged a number of successful show's in London's West End and in 1992 signed on with the Royal Shakespeare Company, directing the likes of Ralph Fiennes and Judi Dench. He moved on to be artistic director of the Donmar Warehouse Theatre, where he collaborated with Nicole Kidman in the critical and commercial success, The Blue Room. (The play also enjoyed a sellout run on Broadway.) He won a 1998 Tony Award for his enchanting adaptation of Cabaret.