Alex Garland

Alexander Medawar Garland[2] (born 26 May 1970)[3] is an English novelist, screenwriter, film producer, and director. He rose to prominence as a novelist in the late 1990s with his novel The Beach, which led some critics to call Garland a key voice of Generation X.[4] He subsequently received praise for the screenplays of the films 28 Days Later (2002), Sunshine (2007), Never Let Me Go (2010), and Dredd (2012).

In 2014, Garland made his directorial debut with Ex Machina, a science fiction thriller which explores the relationship between mankind and artificial intelligence; the film earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay.[5] He also won three BIFA awards for Best Screenplay, Best Director and Best British Independent Film. His second film, 2018's Annihilation, based on the 2014 novel by Jeff VanderMeer, was a critical success, but was considered a box office failure.

Alex Garland
Alexander Medawar Garland

26 May 1970 (age 48)
Alma materUniversity of Manchester
  • Novelist
  • screenwriter
  • director
Years active1996–present
Spouse(s)Paloma Baeza[1]
Parent(s)Nicholas Garland
RelativesPeter Medawar
(maternal grandfather)

Early life

Garland was born in London, England,[6] the son of psychologist Caroline (née Medawar) and political cartoonist Nicholas Garland. He graduated from the University of Manchester with a degree in History of Art.[1][7] His maternal grandfather is Nobel Prize-winning British biologist Peter Medawar.


Novel writing

In 1996, Garland's first novel, The Beach was published. The Beach is based upon Garland's own travels across Europe and Thailand, it tells the story of a young English backpacker who discovers an unspoiled sea shore occupied by a community of like-minded backpackers. The novel is noted for its references to drug culture, sequences of hallucinations and unique depictions of excess and utopia, which have been commended by critics. The Beach was initially met with positive reviews, and with a spreading word of mouth response the novel grew into a cult classic. Garland would later speak of the overwhelming discomfort with the fame The Beach had allowed him to achieve, "I never felt comfortable with it (the novel)."[1] The Beach has been translated into 25 different languages[8] and sold close to 700,000 copies by the start of 1999.[9] It would later be developed into a film starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

In 1998, Garland followed up The Beach with The Tesseract, a non-linear narrative with several interwoven characters set in Manila, Philippines. The novel is characterized by a post-modernist narrative style and structure. It explores several themes such as love and violence through each character's circumstance and context of surroundings as well as seemingly inconsequential actions and the repercussions of those actions on other characters. The Tesseract did not enjoy the critical or commercial success of The Beach, but it too was the subject of a film adaptation.

Throughout his career and work, Garland has expressed his love of travel (particularly backpacking) and his love of Manila, Philippines, much of which would influence his work.[8]


In 2002, Garland wrote the screenplay for Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later, starring Cillian Murphy.[10] He has said that the script was influenced by 1970s zombie films and British science fiction like The Day of the Triffids.[11] Video games such as the Resident Evil series also served as an influence for 28 Days Later, with Garland crediting the first game for revitalizing the zombie genre.[12] Inspiration for the "Rage" virus came from real world infections such as Ebola and filoviruses.[11] He won a Best Screenplay honor at the 2004 Fangoria Chainsaw Awards for his script of the film.

In 2005, Garland wrote a script for a film adaptation of Halo; he was paid $1 million. D. B. Weiss and Josh Olson rewrote this during 2006 for a 2008 release, though the film was later cancelled. In 2007, he wrote the screenplay for the film Sunshine – his second screenplay to be directed by Danny Boyle and to star Cillian Murphy. Garland served as an executive producer on 28 Weeks Later, the sequel to 28 Days Later. He wrote the screenplay for the 2010 film Never Let Me Go, based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro. He also wrote the script for Dredd, an adaptation of the Judge Dredd comic book series from 2000 AD. In 2018, Karl Urban, who played the eponymous role in the film, stated that it was Garland who deserved credit for also directing Dredd.[13]


Garland made his directorial debut with Ex Machina, a 2014 feature film based on his own story and screenplay. The film stars Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander and Oscar Isaac. The film won a Jury Prize at the 2015 Gerardmer Film Festival and earned Garland a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. The film's lead actress, Alicia Vikander, was nominated for a Best Actress award at the Empire Awards.[14]

Garland's second film, Annihilation (2018), was based on Jeff VanderMeer's 2014 science fiction novel of the same name. Garland has described it as "an adaptation which was a memory of the book," rather than book-referenced screenwriting, to capture the "dream like nature" and tone of his reading experience.[15][16][17] Production began in 2016,[18] and the film was released in February 2018.[19]

Video games

Garland is the co-writer on the video game Enslaved: Odyssey to the West for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. For his writing work on the game, he won a 2011 award from the Writer's Guild of Great Britain (along with co-writer Tameem Antoniades). Garland also served as a Story Supervisor on the game DmC: Devil May Cry in 2013.

Personal life

Garland is married to actress Paloma Baeza and has two children.[1]


Year Novel Notes
1996 The Beach Ranked 103 in BBC's 2003 The Big Read poll.[20]
1998 The Tesseract
2004 The Coma


Year Film Director Writer Executive
2002 28 Days Later Yes
2007 Sunshine Yes
28 Weeks Later Yes
2010 Never Let Me Go Yes Yes
2012 Dredd Yes Yes
2014 Big Game Yes
Ex Machina Yes Yes Directorial Debut
2018 Annihilation Yes Yes

Video games

Year Game Notes
2010 Enslaved: Odyssey to the West Co-Writer
2013 DmC: Devil May Cry Story-Supervisor

Awards and nominations

Academy Awards

Year Category Film Result
2015 Best Original Screenplay Ex Machina Nominated

British Academy Film Awards

Year Category Film Result
2015 Best British Film Ex Machina Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Nominated
Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer Nominated

Australian Film Institute

Year Category Film Result
2015 Best Original Screenplay Ex Machina Nominated

Saturn Awards

Year Category Film Result
2002 Best Writing 28 Days Later Nominated
2010 Never Let Me Go Nominated
2015 Best Director Ex Machina Nominated
Best Writing Nominated

Other Awards

Year Film Award Category Result
2002 28 Days Later Fangoria Chainsaw Awards Best Screenplay Nominated
Hugo Awards Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form Nominated
2010 Never Let Me Go British Independent Film Awards Best Screenplay Nominated
Evening Standard British Film Awards Best Screenplay Nominated
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West Writers' Guild of Great Britain Best Continuing Drama Won
2015 Ex Machina Alliance of Women Film Journalists Best Writing, Original Screenplay Nominated
Austin Film Critics Association Best Original Screenplay Nominated
Boston Society of Film Critics Awards Best New Filmmaker Nominated
British Independent Film Awards Best British Independent Film Won
Best Director Won
Best Screenplay Won
Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards Best Screenplay Nominated
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards Most Promising Filmmaker Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Nominated
Directors Guild of America Award Outstanding Directing – First-Time Feature Film Won
European Film Awards Best European Screenwriter Nominated
Florida Film Critics Circle Awards Best Screenplay Nominated
Gérardmer Film Festival Jury Prize Won
Silver Scream Award Won
London Critics Circle Film Awards Breakthrough British/Irish Filmmaker Nominated
Online Film Critics Society Awards Best Original Screenplay Nominated
San Diego Film Critics Society Best Original Screenplay Nominated
San Francisco Film Critics Circle Best Original Screenplay Nominated
Toronto Film Critics Association Awards Best First Feature Won
Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Awards Best Director Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Nominated


  1. ^ a b c d Lewis, Tim (11 January 2015). "Alex Garland on Ex Machina: 'I feel more attached to this film than to anything before'". The Guardian.
  2. ^ Hume, Lucy, ed. (2017). "Garland, Nicholas Withycombe [entry]". People of Today 2017. Debrett's. p. 2,365. ISBN 9781999767037.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  3. ^ Lovece, Frank (20 February 2018). "Unnatural Resource: Alex Garland and Natalie Portman probe the mysteries of 'Annihilation'". Film Journal International. Archived from the original on 21 February 2018. Retrieved 22 February 2018. Q. You were born in London, May 26, 1970? Correct? A. Yep, that's right. So I'm told.
  4. ^ Garland, Alex; Page, Michael (1 February 2000). The Beach. Brilliance Corp. ASIN 1567403549 – via Amazon.
  5. ^ "Nominees: Writing original screenplay". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
  6. ^ "Alex Garland". British Council. n.d. Archived from the original on 9 February 2018. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  7. ^ CNET, CNET (2018-02-08). "'Annihilation' director Alex Garland chats with CNET about the upcoming film". YouTube. CNET. Retrieved 2018-03-18. @ 14m40s
  8. ^ a b Gluckman, Ron. "Hip author Alex Garland talks about The Beach". Retrieved 9 April 2017.
  9. ^ Stewart, Rod (7 January 2000). "Alex Hamilton's paperback fastsellers of 1999". The Bookseller. Retrieved 9 April 2017.
  10. ^ Scott, A. O. (27 June 2003). "Film Review; Spared by a Virus But Not by Mankind". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
  11. ^ a b Watson, Grant (November 6, 2014). ""Something in the blood" | 28 Days Later... (2002)". Fiction Machine. Retrieved June 21, 2018.
  12. ^ Hasan, Zaki (April 10, 2015). "INTERVIEW: Director Alex Garland on Ex Machina". Huffington Post. Retrieved June 21, 2018.
  13. ^ Urban in Shirey, Paul (March 7, 2018). "EXC: Karl Urban Says Alex Garland Directed Dredd & Updates on Reprising Role". Archived from the original on March 7, 2018. Retrieved March 8, 2018. A huge part of the success of 'Dredd' is in fact due to Alex Garland and what a lot of people don't realize is that Alex Garland actually directed that movie. ... I just hope when people think of Alex Garland's filmography that 'Dredd' is the first film that he made before Ex Machina.
  14. ^ Barraclough, Leo (24 February 2015). "'The Imitation Game' Leads Race for Empire Awards". Variety.
  15. ^ CNET (2018-02-08). "'Annihilation' director Alex Garland chats with CNET about the upcoming film". YouTube. CNET. Retrieved 2018-03-18. @ 32m15s-33m30s
  16. ^ The Media Hub (2018-02-10). "ANNIHILATION (2018) - Alex Garland Behind the Scenes Interview - The Media Hub this week". YouTube. The Media Hub. Retrieved 2018-03-18.
  17. ^ Talks at Google (2018-02-22). "Alex Garland 'Annihilation' - Talks at Google". YouTube. Talks at Google. Retrieved 2018-03-18. @ 03m30 - "In this [adaptation] instance it was like an adaptation of the atmosphere."
  18. ^ Kroll, Justin (29 April 2016). "'Containment' Star Joins Natalie Portman in 'Annihilation'". Variety. Retrieved 9 April 2017.
  19. ^ Robinson, Joanna. "Oscar Isaac Re-unites with Ex Machina Director to Join the All-Female Cast of Annihilation". Vanity Fair. Conde Nast. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
  20. ^ "The Big Read - Top 200 Books". BBC. Retrieved 9 April 2017.

External links

28 Days Later

28 Days Later is a 2002 British post-apocalyptic horror film directed by Danny Boyle, written by Alex Garland, and starring Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Brendan Gleeson, Megan Burns, and Christopher Eccleston. The plot depicts the breakdown of society following the accidental release of a highly contagious virus and focuses upon the struggle of four survivors to cope with the destruction of the life they once knew.

Successful both commercially and critically, the film is credited with reinvigorating the zombie genre of horror film. The film spawned a 2007 sequel, 28 Weeks Later, a graphic novel titled 28 Days Later: The Aftermath, which expands on the timeline of the outbreak, and a 2009 comic book series titled 28 Days Later. In 2017 a poll of 150 actors, directors, writers, producers and critics for Time Out magazine ranked it the 97th best British film ever.

Annihilation (film)

Annihilation is a 2018 science fiction horror film written and directed by Alex Garland, based on the novel of the same name by Jeff VanderMeer. It stars Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny, and Oscar Isaac. The story follows a group of military scientists who enter "The Shimmer", a mysterious quarantined zone of mutating landscapes and animals.

Annihilation was released theatrically in Canada and the United States by Paramount Pictures on February 23, 2018, and in China on April 13, 2018. Across all three countries, it grossed $43 million against a production budget between $40–55 million. It was released digitally by Netflix in a number of other countries on March 12, 2018. The film received praise for its visuals, acting, direction and thought-provoking story. According to Jonathan Pile of Empire magazine, the film addresses "depression, grief and the human propensity for self-destruction".

Devs (miniseries)

Devs is an upcoming American drama television miniseries set to premiere in 2019 on FX.


Dredd is a 2012 science fiction action film directed by Pete Travis and written and produced by Alex Garland. It is based on the 2000 AD comic strip Judge Dredd and its eponymous character created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra. Karl Urban stars as Judge Dredd, a law enforcer given the power of judge, jury and executioner in a vast, dystopic metropolis called Mega-City One that lies in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Dredd and his apprentice partner, Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), are forced to bring order to a 200-storey high-rise block of flats and deal with its resident drug lord, Ma-Ma (Lena Headey).

Garland began writing the script in 2006, although the development of a new Judge Dredd film adaptation, unrelated to the 1995 film Judge Dredd, was not announced until December 2008. Produced by British studio DNA Films, Dredd began principal photography, using 3D cameras throughout, in November 2010. Filming took place on practical sets and locations in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Dredd was released on 7 September 2012 in the United Kingdom and on 21 September worldwide. Critics were generally positive about the film's visual effects, casting and action, while criticism focused on excessive violence as well as a perceived lack of the satirical elements that are found in the source comic. Despite the positive critical response, the film earned just over $41 million at the box office on an estimated budget of $30–45 million. Dredd saw greater success following its home release, and has since been recognised as a cult film. The theatrical gross made a sequel unlikely, but home media sales and fan efforts endorsed by 2000 AD's publisher Rebellion Developments have maintained the possibility of a second film.

Ex Machina (film)

Ex Machina is a 2014 science fiction psychological thriller film written and directed by Alex Garland (in his directorial debut) and stars Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, and Oscar Isaac. The film follows a programmer who is invited by his CEO to administer the Turing test to an intelligent humanoid robot.

Made on a budget of $15 million, the film grossed $36 million worldwide. The National Board of Review recognized it as one of the ten best independent films of the year and the 88th Academy Awards honored the film with the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, for artists Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Williams Ardington and Sara Bennett. Garland was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, while Vikander's performance earned her Golden Globe Award, BAFTA Award, Empire Award and Saturn Award nominations, plus several film critic award wins, for Best Supporting Actress. The film was further nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best British Film, and the Hugo Award in the category Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form.

Helplessly Hoping

"Helplessly Hoping" is a 1969 song by the American folk rock group Crosby, Stills, and Nash, written by Stephen Stills. They recorded the song at Wally Heider's Studio 3, Hollywood in December 1968 during their first recording session as a group, with producer Paul Rothchild. The song was first released by Atlantic Records on Crosby, Stills, and Nash's debut album Crosby, Stills & Nash on May 29, 1969. In June 1969, they released it as the B-side of their debut single "Marrakesh Express". The song was prominently featured in the 2018 Alex Garland film Annihilation.

Jeff VanderMeer

Jeff VanderMeer is an American author, editor, and literary critic. Initially associated with the New Weird literary genre, VanderMeer crossed over into mainstream success with his bestselling Southern Reach Trilogy. The trilogy's first novel, Annihilation, won the Nebula and Shirley Jackson Awards, and was adapted into a Hollywood film by director Alex Garland. Among VanderMeer's other novels are Shriek: An Afterword and Borne. He has also edited with his wife Ann VanderMeer such influential and award-winning anthologies as The New Weird, The Weird, and The Big Book of Science Fiction.VanderMeer has been called "one of the most remarkable practitioners of the literary fantastic in America today," with The New Yorker naming him the "King of Weird Fiction." VanderMeer's fiction is noted for eluding genre classifications even as his works bring in themes and elements from genres such as postmodernism, ecofiction, the New Weird and post-apocalyptic fiction.VanderMeer's writing has been described as "evocative" and containing "intellectual observations both profound and disturbing," and has been compared with the works of Jorge Luis Borges, Franz Kafka, and Henry David Thoreau.

Never Let Me Go (2010 film)

Never Let Me Go is a 2010 British dystopian romantic drama film based on Kazuo Ishiguro's 2005 novel Never Let Me Go. The film was directed by Mark Romanek from a screenplay by Alex Garland. Never Let Me Go is set in an alternative history and centres on Kathy, Ruth and Tommy portrayed by Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield respectively, who become entangled in a love triangle. Principal photography began in April 2009 and lasted several weeks. The movie was filmed at various locations, including Andrew Melville Hall. The film was produced by DNA Films and Film4 on a US$15 million budget.

Prior to the book's publication, Garland had approached the film's producers—Andrew Macdonald and Andrew Reich—about a possible film, and wrote a 96-page script. The producers initially had trouble finding an actress to play Kathy. Mulligan was cast in the role after Peter Rice, the head of the company financing the film, recommended her by text message while watching her performance in An Education. Mulligan, a fan of the book, enthusiastically accepted the role, as it had long been a wish of hers to have the opportunity to play the part. The film's message and themes were the factors that attracted Garfield to become a part of the film.

Never Let Me Go premiered at the 37th annual Telluride Film Festival in September 2010, where the audience responded positively to its message. The film was also screened at festivals including the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival, and the 54th London Film Festival which it opened. The film was distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures to cinemas in the United States on 15 September 2010, where it was given a limited release. It opened on 14 January 2011 in the United Kingdom. In the United States, Never Let Me Go opened at four theatres, grossing over US$111,000 during its first weekend. The movie got off to a better start in its first weekend in the UK, earning £625,000 and taking ninth place at the box office.

Never Let Me Go earned US$9.5 million at the box office and an additional US$1.89 million in DVD sales revenue. Never Let Me Go was met with generally positive reviews from film critics, with most reviewers praising the cast's performances.

Saturn Award for Best Writing

The Saturn Award for Best Writing is a Saturn Award presented by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films.

Unlike most awards rewarding writing in films, it recognizes only the writer(s) of the screenplay, and not those of the story.

Sonoya Mizuno

Sonoya Mizuno (born 1 July 1986) is a Japanese-born British actress, model and ballerina who has collaborated with director Alex Garland in works such as Ex Machina, Annihilation and Devs.

She has also had minor roles in the films La La Land, Beauty and the Beast and most recently, the 2018 romantic comedy Crazy Rich Asians. She played a lead character in the Netflix miniseries Maniac.

Southern Reach Trilogy

The Southern Reach Trilogy is a series of novels by the American author Jeff VanderMeer first published in 2014—Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance. The trilogy takes its name from the secret agency that is central to the plot. In 2013, Paramount Pictures bought the movie rights for the series, and a film adaptation of Annihilation was made with Alex Garland as writer-director. The film was released in 2018.

Sunshine (2007 film)

Sunshine is a 2007 science fiction thriller film directed by Danny Boyle and adapted from a screenplay written by Alex Garland. The story takes place in the year 2057, and follows a group of astronauts on a dangerous mission to reignite the dying Sun. The ensemble cast features Cillian Murphy, Chris Evans, Rose Byrne, Michelle Yeoh, Cliff Curtis, Troy Garity, Hiroyuki Sanada, Benedict Wong, and Chipo Chung. The director cast a group of international actors for the film, and had the actors live together and learn about topics related to their roles, as a form of method acting.

The film was a co-production between the motion picture studios of Moving Picture Company, DNA Films, UK Film Council, and Ingenious Film Partners. Theatrically, it was commercially distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures, while the 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment division released the film in the video rental market. Sunshine explores physics, science and religion. Following its wide release in theatres, the film garnered several award nominations for its acting, directing, and production merits. It also won an award for Best Technical Achievement for production designer Mark Tildesley from the British Independent Film Awards. The film score was composed by John Murphy and was released by the Fox Music Group on 25 November 2008.

Previous science fiction films that Boyle cited as influences included Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, Andrei Tarkovsky's 1972 film Solaris, and Ridley Scott's 1979 science-fiction horror film Alien. Sunshine was released in the United Kingdom on 6 April 2007 and in the United States on 20 July 2007. The film took £3.2 million in the UK over twelve weeks, and in the USA it was placed no. 13 in the box office on the first weekend of its wide release. With a budget of US$40 million, it ultimately grossed US$32 million worldwide. Although the film was not considered a box office success, preceding its initial screening to the public the film was generally met with positive critical reviews. Widescreen DVD and Blu-ray editions of the film, also including the hi-definition theatrical trailer, scene selections, and director's commentary among other highlights, were released in the United States on 8 January 2008.

The Beach (film)

The Beach is a 2000 English-language drama thriller film directed by Danny Boyle and based on the 1996 novel of the same name by Alex Garland, which was adapted for the film by John Hodge. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tilda Swinton, Virginie Ledoyen, Guillaume Canet, and Robert Carlyle. It was filmed on the Thai island Koh Phi Phi.

The Beach (novel)

The Beach is a 1996 novel by English author Alex Garland. Set in Thailand, it is the story of a young backpacker's search for a legendary, idyllic and isolated beach untouched by tourism, and his time there in its small, international community of backpackers.

In 2000, it was adapted into a film directed by Danny Boyle and starring Leonardo DiCaprio. In 2003, the novel was listed on the BBC's survey The Big Read.

The Coma

The Coma is a novel by Alex Garland, illustrated by his father, Nicholas Garland. It explores the boundary between the conscious and subconscious mind. The Coma was published in 2004, eight years after Garland's first novel, The Beach.

The Tesseract (film)

The Tesseract, is a 2003 thriller film directed by Oxide Pang and starring Jonathan Rhys-Meyers. It is based on the novel of the same name by Alex Garland.

The film examines four seemingly unconnected lives brought together through a theft in a Bangkok hotel room (unlike the novel which is set in Manila). The interactions of an English drug dealer, an English psychologist, a Thai assassin, and an abused 13-year-old boy demonstrate that life is so complex that even the smallest events can have enormous, even fatal consequences (i.e. the butterfly effect).

The Tesseract (novel)

The Tesseract is a novel by Alex Garland. It was initially published by Viking Press in 1998.

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