Sam's work directing theatre and film spans 25 years.
At 24 years old, Sam became the first Artistic Director of the Minerva Theatre, Chichester. He founded the Donmar Warehouse aged 27 and, in 10 years of running the venue, established the theatre as one of the world’s leading playhouses. Sam’s many productions at the Donmar Warehouse included seminal productions of Assassins (1992), Cabaret (1993), Translations (1993), Company (1995), The Glass Menagerie (1995), Habeas Corpus (1996), The Blue Room (1998), Uncle Vanya (2002) and Twelfth Night (2002).
Alongside his work as Artistic Director of the Donmar Warehouse, Sam directed a number of critically acclaimed productions at the RSC including Troilus and Cressida (1990), The Tempest (1993) and The Alchemist (1991). Work for the National Theatre included The Rise and Fall of Little Voice (1993), The Birthday Party (1994) and Othello (1997) with West End credits including London Assurance (1989), The Cherry Orchard (1990) and Oliver! (1994). On Broadway, Sam has directed Cabaret (1998), The Blue Room (1998), Gypsy (2003) and The Vertical Hour (2006).
Sam founded The Bridge Project in 2009, a one of a kind transatlantic classical theatre partnership, for which he directed The Winter's Tale (2009), The Cherry Orchard (2009), The Tempest (2010), As You Like It (2010) and Richard III (2011), all of which toured the world.
Sam started directing films in 1998. His first film, American Beauty (1999), won the Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Director and Best Picture as well as the Director's Guild Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement. Sam has since directed the Academy Award winning Road to Perdition (2002), Jarhead (2005), Revolutionary Road (2008), Away We Go (2009), the Academy Award and BAFTA winning Skyfall (2012) and Spectre (2015). Skyfall and Spectre are two of the most successful films of all time in the UK.
Over the course of his career, Sam has won an Academy Award, several Olivier Awards, Tony Awards, Evening Standard Awards, Critics Choice Awards and the Hamburg Shakespeare Prize. Sam’s contribution to cinema and theatre saw him awarded a CBE in 2000 and a Director's Guild Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.