Mendes: "Directing another Bond makes me physically ill"

Despite directing the most successful Bond ever - 'Skyfall' has grossed $1bn worldwide - Sam Mendes turned down the chance to direct the next Bond.

Hollywood may think he is deranged but Mendes has told 'The Guardian' it was psychologically necessary.

"Was I willing to go back into a room with a writer and start work on the same set of characters and the same scenarios as I've been working on for the last three years? The idea made me physically ill."

How does he deal with disappointed Bond fans? He laughs: "I say to them, my life is not a democracy. It's not up for discussion'. What? Maybe I should go to one of the [Bond] chat threads and change my mind? I don't think that's going to happen."

But he does reveal 'Skyfall' was partly autobiographical. "Under the surface of the movie is a meditation on ageing and loss, and England. And what it is to be English and does that mean anything now?" It is the story, as he puts it "of someone who disappears for a while, and comes back to England to find everything has changed, but everything is basically the same. And that was basically what i was going through."

Mendes, of course, divorced wife Kate Winslet, and moved back to London from New York. He says the split was amicable and doesn't miss being part of a mega-watt couple.

"I have intense admiration for Kate - how she coped with it, and still does. Better than i did. I didn't like it."

He never really learned to bond with his American crew about sport, he admits, or read an American newspaper or watch the news all the way through. He likes the rain. In New York he aways wanted to be inside. "I love New York, but I'm English, and I still feel English and I did when I was there."

He defends killing off Judi Dench's M in the film. "Ha! You can't kill him; let's kill her instead! I thought I was going to get so much shit for that. But you know you shock people into rediscovering their first acquaintance with the characters…"

Instead of another Bond, he is staging a musical version of 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' in London's West End with Douglas Hodge, Nigel Planer and a cast of 17 children.

"The movie world does not acknowledge the theatre world as a serious entity on the whole," he laughs. 'so you get a lot of, 'Why would you do another play?'"

'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' opens on 17 May