Interviews / Movies

Natalie Portman, Oscar Isaac Talk Shimmer, Sci-Fi, and Star Wars in ‘Annihilation’ Interviews

The girl power movement continues this weekend with the release of the sci-fi action thriller Annihilation.

Starring Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tuva Novotny and Tessa Thompson along with the ever-busy Oscar Isaac, the film adaptation of Jeff VanderMeer’s novel of the same title is quickly building up anticipation.

Recently Portman and Isaac sat to chat about their new movie. Here are a few of the highlights.

Portman on the female-led cast

It was really exciting to get to read a script and make a film that had five women leads as just something normal. We’re so used to seeing a military group of five men that you don’t question it. It was really nice to have that built-in to the story.


Portman on what her co-stars would bring on a backpacking trip

Gina would probably bring the humor. She’s always being hilarious. Tessa would probably bring the theory. She’s really engaged in the political bent and causes. I’m always learning political movements from her. Jennifer would probably bring this psychological bent because she gave us this personality quiz at the beginning for all of us to get to know one another better. She always has incredible insight that way. Tuva would bring the group camaraderie vibe. And I would probably bring the snacks because all I think about is food.


Portman on how the film was pitched to her

It just seemed so wild to me to get to make this science fiction action film but that had a real psychological basis on all of our self-destructive tendencies. [Writer/Director Alex Garland] described it as each of going in to our own selves, that this whole expedition is investigating and exploring our own self-destrutcion.


Portman on the bear and the alligator

We were really lucky to have these practical creatures to work off of with the bear and the alligator because even though they’re going to be largely computer generated later, it was so helpful to have that to react to. It really changes everything. It’s one less thing you have to do as an actor if you don’t have to imagine something and we’re all reacting to the same thing too. It means we all have the same picture in our head.


Isaac on what drew him to the movie

We worked on Ex Machina together and we became really close friends after that and also as a collborator there’s nobody else like him. I was ready to anything that he was doing next. When he said that he had something that might be good, I said, “I’m in,” and then I read it and I just really loved that within this wild world, this bizarre, psychadelic disturbing story, at the center of it is this marriage and the destruction of a marriage.


Isaac explains what The Shimmer is without spoiling anything

The Shimmer is this phenomenon that is occurring that is an ever-expanding area and once people go in to it, they don’t come out. Now once you’re in the area, basically what you’re seeing is everything is refracted, not only light, but genetically. Things get refracted so creatures you’ve never seen before, plant life you’ve never seen before, at the very essence of the DNA, something is changing. The cause of this whole thing potentially appears to be extraterrestrial threat.


Isaac on bouncing between Star Wars and Annhiliation

The nature of the movie was a dark, deep one so and also because of the fact that I was also shooting [Star Wars: The Last Jedi] at the same time, it was just really fast. What I love about Alex is that within this very specific, smart, precise world, he had a looseness to it so there was one scene in particular that was a pretty graphic scene where I’m cutting open one of my fellow soldiers and the nature of it was so frenetic and had such an intense energy. The way he was shooting it, because it was supposed to be like found footage, so it was the DP with a small handheld camera and Alex with a flashlight doing weird lighting effects and I just went with it and it was a fun, almost guerilla style of filmmaking that was unexpected with a movie this large.


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