Perhaps no movie is without controversy these days. Natalie Portman's character is named Lena in the movie, for instance, but the "Annihilation" novel only refers to her as the biologist. Annihilation's cast is undeniably diverse - it includes Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Sonya Miznuo, Oscar Isaac, and Benedict Wong - but the film is still following in the unfortunate footsteps of Doctor Strange, Iron Fist, and Ghost in the Shell. The news was first broken by The Hollywood Reporter.
But now Garland and his producers have come under fire for casting two white actresses to play women of colour and ethnicity, and Portman and Leigh have stepped forward insisting no one knew this about their characters before filming began.
"[Garland] exploits the story but fails to take advantage of the true identities of each character".
Sonny Skyhawk, founder of American Indians in Film and Television, echoed Badreshia's sentiments, describing whitewashing in Hollywood as a game of "Whack-A-Mole". "No one means you harm; it's just the way that it is". Though the novel constitutes the first entry in "The Southern Research Trilogy", Garland always intended for Annihilation to be a standalone film and not the beginning of a franchise. In addition, at the time he also noted he hadn't read the second book in VanderMeer's trilogy, and it's in the second book that Natalie Portman's biologist character is described as Asian. These roles are played respectively by Portman and Jennifer Jason Leigh. I cast the film reacting only to the actors I met in the casting process, or actors I had worked with before. Entertainment. "We need more representation of Asians on film, of Hispanics on film, of blacks on film, women - and particularly women of color - Native Americans".
"These categories like "white" and "nonwhite" - they're imagined classifications but have real-life consequences".
Garland himself first addressed the situation on the Nerdist podcast back in December, claiming he only read the first novel and adding, "It would not be in my nature to whitewash anything".
"I feel tremendously proud, and in the course of it I've gotten to know these four incredible actors who happen to be women, artists, mothers, directors", she said. I read a book and I adapted it because I thought the book was unbelievable. "So that was it". VanderMeer has yet to comment publicly about the issue, although he has - in reference to other parts of the translation between media for Annihilation - noted that he "never expected or wanted a faithful adaptation from Garland - just a good one". The author responded with what was basically a blank check on adapting his work. My book is my book. "She was so eloquent in her encouragement of these women to use their voices and move on with their lives to do all of the handsome things that they can do and are destined to do", said Portman, who is a vocal supporter of the #TimesUp movement and has spoken publicly about her own disturbing experiences working in the film industry.