Natalie Portman to Lead Alex Garland's Next Sci-Fi Film 'Annihilation'
Now this is some great casting we can be excited about! Variety is reporting that an Oscar winning actress is likely going to end up starring in the next sci-fi creation from Alex Garland, a screenwriter turned director whose feature directing debut Ex Machina is playing in theaters now. The project is called Annihilation, an adaptation of the Jeff VanderMeer series of novels, about a biologist who signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition to "Area X" where the laws of nature don’t apply. Paramount is developing and Garland has been talking about it in interviews with the attitude of "let's see if it happens", but it sounds like the project is gaining momentum, especially with a star like Portman. This is very good news for the science fiction genre.
Here's the official synopsis of the first book in the trilogy (via Amazon) which sounds quite interesting:
Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide, the third expedition in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another. The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within weeks, all had died of cancer. In Annihilation, the first volume of Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition.
The group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain, record all observations of their surroundings and of one anotioner, and, above all, avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.
They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding—but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another that change everything.
The report in Variety mentions that the deal with Portman is "dependent on production starting no sooner than the beginning of 2016, but sources say it seems like the two sides will settle on a start date soon." So it sounds like things are picking up steam, which isn't a surprise considering the success of (and critical support behind) Ex Machina, Garland's robot thriller which finally opened in the US in April. Natalie Portman is still set to appear in Jane Got a Gun later this year, but she has been laying low for the most part ever since she had a baby. She's also in Terrence Malick's Knight of Cups, and her directional debut A Tale of Love and Darkness will premiere at Cannes this summer. We'll keep an eye out for the latest updates.