Sir Sam Mendes, the Academy Award-winning filmmaker, described having gender-neutral awards at the Oscars as “inevitable.”
The 57-year-old, who won the best director Oscar in 1999 for his first film American Beauty, told the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg that he was “completely sympathetic” with the idea that it “might well be inevitable”.
It comes after The Crown star Emma Corrin, who identifies as non-binary and uses the pronouns they/them, said she hoped award shows would opt for gender-neutral categories at future ceremonies.
Sir Sam said, “I have total sympathy for that and I think in the end it could be inevitable. Because I think that’s how it’s moving and I think it’s perfectly reasonable.”
“For me, people forget with the awards, I think this happens all the time that they use it as a benchmark for the industry, but the truth is that the awards are a television program.
“Awards are there to promote movies. If that movie wins an award, I’m more likely to go see it and that’s what you’re doing there.”
“It’s not about yourself, it’s not especially about the art or craft of the industry. It’s about selling movies.”
“I’m not discounting their importance, but I’m saying they were there to promote the movies and the craft and art of the movies. They’re the window dressing, but they’re not the thing itself.”
Sir Sam also said in the interview that actress Olivia Colman was embarrassed to perform sex scenes in her upcoming film Empire Of Light alongside her younger co-star, but wanted to see the characters’ “physical desire”.
The new film from the James Bond director is set in an old English seaside town cinema in the early 1980s and explores human connection and romance.
It marks the Academy Award-winning filmmaker’s first foray into solo screenwriting and was inspired by his childhood growing up with someone who suffered from mental illness.
Sir Sam said: “The stigma that is still attached to mental illness, there is still a cloak of darkness that is thrown over it.
“If you come out of the hospital and you’ve just recovered from cancer, I immediately say ‘how are you?’ If you come out of a mental health facility, I don’t talk about it, you probably don’t ask yourself the question.
“So there’s still that weird stigma attached to it.
“My main goal in the film was to try to dramatize the effect and what it’s like to live through bipolar and manic depression, rather than explain it.”