Alex Garland on ‘Annihilation’, Why Some Test Screening Reactions Are Bullshit, and Deleted Scenes

     February 28, 2018

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It’s early in 2018, but I think I’ve seen what will be one of my favorite films of the year: writer-director Alex Garland’s Annihilation. Based on Jeff VanderMeer’s terrifying eco-horror novel of the same name, the movie stars Natalie Portman as a biologist and former soldier who joins a mission to uncover what exactly happened to her husband (Oscar Isaac) inside Area X, which is a mysterious—and growing—patch of land in the United States that seems to fundamentally alter everything in its path. Garland’s film also stars Jennifer Jason LeighTessa ThompsonGina Rodriguez, and Tuva Novotny.

annihilation-movie-image

Image via Paramount Pictures and Skydance

Unlike a lot of movies where everything is explained and watered down by studio notes and focus groups, Annihilation is a hard sci-fi thriller where you’re constantly trying to figure out what is happening, and I loved every second of it. In addition, the film contains a lot of weird and bold choices that will infuriate some and leave others floored. It’s the type of film that rarely gets made and I commend Paramount Pictures for releasing it.

With Annihilation now in theaters in North America, I recently sat down with Alex Garland for an exclusive video interview. During our wide-ranging conversation he shared a number of stories on the making of Annihilation and talked about the length of his first cut compared to the finished film, why Natalie Portman was perfect for the film, how the edit was a challenging process with some people wanting to water down the content, why he deleted a pretty long scene, and so much more. In addition, he talked about his upcoming FX series, Devs, and shares an amazing story from a test screening of Never Let Me Go. If you’re a fan of Alex Garland I’m very confident you’ll enjoy this interview.

annihilation-movie-natalie-portman

Image via Paramount Pictures and Skydance

Check out what he to say in the player above and below is exactly what we talked about and some images from the film.

Alex Garland:

  • Does he wish he could escape promoting his films or does he accept it’s part of the process?
  • How a lot of people worked really hard to make Annihilation.
  • How much changed during the making of the film? Talks about how the cast and crew helped add to the film.
  • How long was his first cut compared to the finished film? Talks about taking out pauses.
  • Talks about why he deleted a scene and what it was about. Also talks about what you can achieve in the editing process to alter events.
  • How hard was it to get the shot of Natalie Portman firing the machine gun without blinking?
  • Talks about why Natalie Portman was perfect for this part.
  • annihilation-movie-image

    Image via Paramount Pictures and Skydance

    How the edit was a challenging process with some people wanting to water down the content.

  • Confirms the film being released is the film he intended to make.
  • Talks about how some of the test screening process is useful and some of it is bullshit. He also shares an amazing story from a test screening of Never Let Me Go.
  • What did he learn from making Ex-Machina that he applied to making Annihilation?
  • Talks about his upcoming FX series DEVS which is short for developers.

For more on Annihilation:

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