After years of being a screenwriter, particularly for director Danny Boyle on the likes of 28 Days Later and Sunshine, Alex Garland made his directorial debut with this year’s excellent sci-fi Ex Machina. And now he may have found his leading lady for his followup effort.

Variety reports that Natalie Portman is in early talks to star in Garland’s next sci-fi effort Annihilation, an adaptation of a novel written by Jeff VanderMeer for which Garland will also write the script.

The book is the first in a series entitled the “Southern Reach Trilogy” and centres on a group of scientists sent out to a remote place known as “Area X” which is fraught with mysterious incidents like suicides and and disappearances during previous expeditions. Portman is up for the lead role of, “a biologist who signs up for [the] dangerous, secret expedition where the laws of nature don’t apply.”

Portman is obviously an actress whom every studio wants in their film and Paramount/Garland nabbing her for the lead is reportedly contingent on the shooting starting no earlier than 2016. Apparently everyone is scrambling to work with Garland after he impressed everyone with Ex Machina, with major actresses like Tilda Swinton and Julianne Moore targeting a key supporting role, but the studio are only going to consider anyone once Portman’s deal has been finalized.

I have to admit I am unfamiliar with the book(s) but to me it sort of sounds like The Thing but sans the alien creature aspect. Ex Machina was a great slice of modern sci-fi with a terrific key role for rising star Alicia Vikander so here’s hoping he does something similar for Portman if she decides to accept the role.

Source: Variety