Syfy Insider Exclusive

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, sweepstakes, and more!

Sign Up For Free to View
SYFY WIRE Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi

The Surprising Star Wars Connection to Alex Garland's Sci-Fi/Horror Film Annihilation

Sometimes movies share more than genres and cast members.

By Matthew Jackson
A flashlight shines on Kane (Oscar Isaac) in Annihilation (2018).

Alex Garland's Annihilation (airing this month on SYFY) might not, at first glance, have a lot in common with Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Yes, they're both science fiction films, and they were released within three months of each other in late 2017 and early 2018. They're also both acclaimed sci-fi films starring Oscar Isaac, but there the similarities seem to end.

Unless you talk to Isaac, who had a very synergistic experience with the two movies, because they were shooting not just in the same place, but at the same time.

Oscar Isaac Shot Star Wars and Annihilation on the Same Days

Speaking to Slashfilm back in 2018, when Annihilation was set to hit U.S. theaters, Isaac explained that he shot both that film, directed and written by Garland, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi, directed and written by Rian Johnson, at the same time. But he didn't just mean the same span of a couple of months. He meant he was literally walking between sets, because the films shared a lot in the United Kingdom. The two productions were so simultaneous, it turns out, that he'd even have to hustle over to Garland's set while still in costume as Resistance pilot Poe Dameron.

"I would shoot something in the morning and then have a little bit of down time and then switch it up,” Isaac said. “So that was wild… I think I visited, too, still dressed up as Poe on the set. 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.”

For More on Oscar Isaac and Annihilation:
Oscar Isaac on Moon Knight at NYCC

Oscar Isaac is Open to Being Poe Dameron Again
How Alex Garland Uses Color in Annihilation and Ex Machina

More often than not, in the modern Hollywood landscape you hear stories about actors having to drop projects due to scheduling conflicts, but in this case everything worked out for Isaac, and Garland even gave credit to Johnson and producer Ram Bergman for allowing their star time to work on both films, despite one of them being a significantly bigger logistical event than the other. But it wasn't all easy. Isaac went on to say that the merged schedules did end up limiting his rehearsal time for the more cerebral Annihilation, leaving him depending on his co-star, fellow Star Wars alum Natalie Portman, to make their scenes work.

“There was very little time, and not a lot of rehearsal time, and Natalie and I didn’t know each other,” Isaac explained. “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. Which is always a weird, awkward, strange thing to do suddenly in front of a bunch of people… She is very focused, but also in those scenes, very emotionally available as well, so I really enjoyed that.”

At first glance, this is an interesting little trivia tidbit, but look closer and you'll see quite the acting feat from Isaac, who had to play two very different roles often in the span of the same day. In The Last Jedi, he's a brash and dashing hero, running around and flying an X-Wing. In Annihilation, he's a man haunted and changed by an encounter with something he can't explain, often distant and even cold. It's quite a contrast, and it makes his performance in both films that much more admirable.

Annihilation is now airing on SYFY. Check the Schedule for more details.