According to a conversation Mendes had with IndieWire (via CBM), the American Beauty filmmaker was hesitant to take on the iconic franchise until he was talked into it by series star Daniel Craig--who was able to do so because he and Mendes had a previous working relationship dating back to their adaptation of Max Allan Collins's graphic novel The Road to Perdition.
The filmmaker went on to point out that his most direct inspiration in making Skyfall was Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight, saying, "In terms of what [Nolan] achieved, specifically The Dark Knight, the second movie, what it achieved, which is something exceptional. It was a game changer for everybody."
Mendes added, "We’re now in an industry where movies are very small or very big and there’s almost nothing in the middle. And it would be a tragedy if all the serious movies were very small and all the popcorn movies were very big and have nothing to say. And what Nolan proved was that you can make a huge movie that is thrilling and entertaining and has a lot to say about the world we live in, even if, in the case with The Dark Knight, it’s not even set in our world. If felt like a movie that was about our world post-9/11 and played on our fears and discussed our fears and why they existed and I thought that was incredibly brave and interesting. That did help give me the confidence to take this movie in directions that, without The Dark Knight, might not have been possible. Because also, people go, ‘Wow, that’s pretty dark,’ but then you can point to Dark Knight and go ‘Look at that – that’s a darker movie, and it took in a gazillion dollars!’ That’s very helpful. There’s also that thing – it’s clearly possible to make a dark movie that people want to see."
Skyfall will be in U.S. theaters in three weeks.