Oscar Isaac is a very busy man, as evidenced by the fact that he filmed scenes for both Annihilation and Star Wars: The Last Jedi at the same time, on the same day. Annihilation marks his second collaboration with writer/director Alex Garland, after the film Ex Machina.
Isaac is best known for his role as the Resistance fighter pilot Poe Dameron in the current Star Wars movie trilogy. He’s led an interesting career overall, with roles in both franchise blockbusters (see also X-Men: Apocalypse) and smaller projects like Joel and Ethan Coen’s Inside Llewyn Davis, a quiet folk music film about a musician in Greenwich Village in the 1960s. In Annihilation, Isaac plays a soldier and the sole surviving member of a doomed expedition into an environmental disaster zone. He’s married to Natalie Portman’s character, Lena, who then goes into the disaster zone with another expedition group to find out what happened.
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During the filming of The Last Jedi, Isaac was also filming for Annihilation, which created a rather challenging shooting schedule for the actor. Fortunately, both movies were in production at the same studio, so there many days where he was hopping from one set to the other. In an interview with /Film, he explained how he dealt with the situation:
“It reminded me a little of Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, when he’s on the lot and you see all the different actors walking around. There was something very classic about it. So there was very little time, and not a lot of rehearsal time, and Natalie and I didn’t know each other. It happens in movies, obviously – you have to suddenly be very intimate with someone very quickly. I think the fact that she was willing to trust me and I was trusting her, and we just went in there and did it and tried to find a real intimacy.”
Garland credited Isaac’s crazy schedule to the flexibility of both Rian Johnson and Ram Bergman, director and producer of The Last Jedi respectively. He attributed their flexibility to Johnson and Bergman’s indie background, saying “[H]ere they are making like the biggest movie of all time, and they were unbelievably helpful and accommodating to us. And they really didn’t have to be at all. Most big productions would not even dream of doing that.”
Garland has had previous experience with the science fiction genre, albeit in smaller terms in the past. His last film (which was also his directorial debut) was Ex Machina, which won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects and was nominated for Best Screenplay. Annihilation seems bigger and more ambitious than Ex Machina, which is quite a feat in and of itself. In Ex Machina, Isaac played the billionaire inventor who believes he’s created the first legitimate form of artificial intelligence. In the past, Garland has also written such sci-fi films as Dredd, Sunshine and 28 Days Later.
Annihilation also has an unusual rollout plan; it’s being released in U.S., Canadian, and Chinese theaters by Paramount, before Netflix begins streaming the film overseas 17 days later. Garland has revealed his disappointment with this release plan, citing the fact that most countries won’t be able to watch the film on the big screen, as it was intended to be seen.
More: Annihilation Featurette Explores ‘The Shimmer’