Sam Mendes: ‘Social awkwardness’ prevents mental health discussions

Director Sir Sam Mendes says “social awkwardness” plays a big part in the difficulties people face when discussing mental health, as he debuts his latest film in London. Kent.

mpire Of Light is set in a dilapidated movie theater in a 1980s seaside town and is billed as both a love letter to cinema and a love story between Olivia Colman’s Hilary and Stephen’s. Michael Ward.

The film also discusses mental health – Hilary is mentally ill and loosely based on Sir Sam’s mother – and race as well, as Ward’s character faces racial prejudice. throughout the movie.

Speaking on Sunday at the film’s premiere at Dreamland theme park in Margate, Kent, Sir Sam said: “I have stories to tell from my own childhood; For me, the ’80s were a really exciting and buzzy time to write about.


Sam Mendes attends the Empire of Light movie gala dinner at the Carlton Cinema in Margate (Ian West/PA)

“I wrote it during the lockdown and mental health problems are on the rise as people are stuck in their homes and clamped down like lieutenants.

“I also think we haven’t found a good way to represent mental health problems in this country. Normally, if someone was released from the hospital after being sick, you would ask how they were, but if they got out of a mental hospital, they tend not to ask.

“It is a very difficult thing to say and it tends to be hidden, with social awkwardness being the norm.

“Race is an ongoing debate that we have to find a way to move forward, which is as relevant today as it was in the 80s.”

Colman said it was a big responsibility to take on a character inspired by Sir Sam’s mother.

She said of her role as Hilary: “It’s nerve-wracking when you know it means so much to Sam, and he’s seen it at such close intervals during such formative years. , so the responsibility was pretty big but then Sam got it done. the space is really nurturing and safe.

“He told jokes all day, really bad stories, but that means you can make mistakes and that’s okay, and he guided us and made it all right. satisfied.”

– Empire Of Light starring Olivia Colman, Michael Ward, Colin Firth and Toby Jones will hit theaters on Monday.

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