Why Natalie Portman calls female-led 'Annihilation' a 'radical' step forward

Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
Yahoo Entertainment

The sci-fi thriller Annihilation doesn’t look like most other films in the genre. Part of the reason is its unique setting: a jungle zone where the natural world has mutated in a visually dazzling way. The other is that the main cast — a five-person military expedition team — is entirely made up of women.

Stars Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Gina Rodriguez talked to Yahoo Entertainment about how having an all-female ensemble (Tuva Novotny is the fifth member of the team) affected their performances and made the movie feel “very radical.” Watch the video above.

It was really exciting and felt very radical to have five women at the center of this film, and unfortunately, that should be much more normal,” Portman said. “I think so many women are sci-fi fans, and also men are happy to watch a group of women in a sci-fi film. … Hopefully that will become more normalized in the future.”

Rodriguez, best known for Jane the Virgin, and Leigh, Oscar-nominated as the only female lead in The Hateful Eight, told Yahoo that having a cast of women made the working environment uniquely comfortable and supportive.

Thompson said that a few of the women in the cast (namely herself, Portman, and Rodriguez) bonded over their participating in the #TimesUp movement and were happy to promote a vision of gender equality onscreen. After all, it is extremely common for an actress to be the only woman on set and rare for women to play all the lead roles in a major film.

In Portman’s words, “When you’re the only woman, you’re the girl. That’s what defines you. Whereas when you’re in a group of women, you start being defined by your personality or your talents or your ideas.”

Annihilation opens in theaters Friday.

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