In director Alex Garland's (Ex Machina) new film Annihilation, which he adapted from the novel by Jeff VanderMeer, Natalie Portman plays a biologist who is drawn into the mystery of a frightening zone known as Area X. Situated on a coastal area of North America, it may be extra-terrestrial in origin and is changing everything within its borders -- even as those borders begin to expand.
While Portman's character is not named in the book, she is known as Lena in the movie. We don't get to know much more about her than that, except for the fact that her husband Kane (Oscar Isaac) went on a mission into Area X and was the only member of his team to come back alive.
Her quest to learn what happened to her spouse, as well as her natural curiosity as a scientist, leads her to join a new expedition into the zone alongside a psychologist named Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh), an anthropologist named Josie (Tessa Thompson), a surveyor named Anya (Gina Rodriguez) and a linguist called Cass (Tuva Novotny).
SYFY WIRE spoke with the Oscar-winning Portman about taking on the role of Lena -- who is a trained soldier as well as a researcher -- finding ways to identify with the character, and confronting the physical and existential horrors within Area X.
Additional material by Don Kaye.