​Annihilation director Alex Garland criticised for alleged white-washing – and here's his response

Director Alex Garland has been accused of white-washing his latest film Annihilation starring Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez and Oscar Isaac.

21st February 2018
/ By Matthew Whitehouse

annihilation movie alex garland whitewash film PARAMOUNT

White-washing is a regular bone of contention with film industry professionals and movie audiences – Ancient civilisations have been portrayed by beautiful caucasian blondes and some Animé adaptations have sported entirely white casts.

Director Alex Garland (Ex Machina, 28 Days Later) is the latest to come under attack for allegedly casting white people in roles meant for Asian and American Indian performers.

A member of MANAA (Media Action Network for Asian Americans) wrote last week: Writer/director Alex Garland is not being true and honest to the characters in the book. He exploits the story but fails to take advantage of the true identities of each character. 

"Hollywood rarely writes prominent parts for Asian American and American Indian characters and those roles could have bolstered the careers of women from those communities.”

Sonny Skyhawk, founder of American Indians in Film and Television also spoke up: “We are not surprised by the Whack-A-Mole diversity replacement that goes on; just when you finish objecting to one whitewashed casting, another one pops up.”

And the issue of white-washing was brought up in an interview with Garland on The Nerdist podcast.

He said: “It would not be in my nature to whitewash anything. That just wouldn’t be like me. I read a book and I adapted it because I thought the book was amazing. And I thought, ‘I’m not exactly sure how to adapt this, but I’ve got an idea.’ And I just went with it. So that was it.”

Annihilation is based on Jeff VanderMeer's best-selling series and focuses on a group of soldiers who enter a disaster zone, leaving all of the dead except for one who emerges horribly injured. His wife arranges for a second mission to find out what went wrong.

Annihilation is released in US cinemas on February 23 and will roll-out internationally on Netflix in March.