Annihilation: Natalie Portman Says She Didn’t Know Her Character Was Whitewashed

Actresses Natalie Portman and Jennifer Jason Leigh have responded to criticisms of Annihilation’s choice to cast two white women—the two of them—in roles that, in the books on which the film is based, were originally women of color. Their responses were simple: they didn’t know their characters were originally conceived to be non-white.

Yahoo Entertainment recently asked the actresses what they thought of the whitewashing controversy, which has been brewing for months. In both cases, though, their characters’ literary lineage appeared to be news to them. (Both characters’ backgrounds are not revealed until Authority, the sequel to Annihilation and the second book in the Southern Reach trilogy.) Portman agreed that casting her as a someone who, in the books, is of Asian descent “does sound problematic.” But as she told Yahoo, “I’m hearing it here first.”

“We need more representation of Asians on film, of Hispanics on film, of…

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