If you’re worried about Annihilation, you probably should be. Sarah has written extensively about why Annihilation is most likely going to fail, despite its promising trailers and stacked cast. When I first heard that Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson and Oscar Isaac (and Natalie Portman, sure) would be starring in a sci-fi fantasy action thriller by Alex Garland, I was excited. I was really f-cking excited to see Gina Rodriquez and Tessa Thompson play badasses who kick alien ass. Well, Annihilation has been staring down bad press for months and my excitement has given way to worry about how its inevitable failure will affect my girls, Gina and Tessa.
Gina is going to be fine. Duana is somewhere yelling at me to quit worrying about Gina Rodriguez already. And as for Tessa Thompson? She pulled the actor-equivalent of kicking alien ass last night. Yesterday, just hours before Tessa walked the red carpet of the Annihilation premiere, Variety broke the news that she’s going to play infamous jewel thief, Doris Payne. Doris is now 87 years old but since the 50s, Doris was knocking over jewelry stores using pretty much only her charm and her wits. Doris had a sh-t ton of different aliases and Social Security numbers. Doris outsmarted jewelry store-clerks around the world to become a notorious thief. Doris was like the black Danny Ocean. I’m obsessed with Doris. The Oceans 11 comparisons are easy buy Variety described the film as “a high-concept action-drama in the vein of Catch Me if You Can and The Thomas Crown Affair”. Yes, please.
Tessa is also co-producing the film and already showing her work:
After chasing Doris and her story for years— and then keeping this secret for awhile— I’m screaming that this dream is coming true. She is a deeply fascinating woman. So pleased to bring this story to the screen with CodeBlack & Lionsgate. Beyond grateful. https://t.co/GMfigAdwy4— Tessa Thompson (@TessaThompson_x) February 13, 2018
So, hours before the Annihilation premiere, news of Tessa’s amazing new role breaks and now the conversation is about that, not about how she’s promoting a movie that’s likely going to be a disappointing flop due to a messy rollout. If Annihilation lives up to its early hype (and some solid initial reviews) and is actually a good movie, we’ll just add it to the list of great movies already on Tessa’s resume. If it doesn’t land with audiences and suffers at the box office, Tessa is not going to eat it. Natalie Portman will likely take the hit. Tessa’s already on to the next one. I heard a couple snippets from her red carpet interviews last night and most outlets were asking her about Creed 2 or the Doris Payne biopic. The conversation surrounding Tessa Thompson today is all about Doris Payne. The timing of this news is too good to have been an accident. This was strategy – damn good strategy. When Lainey and I were emailing about this, she said she was impressed with Tessa’s team. This means Tessa and her team are meticulously managing her image and carving out a specific career path. YES. That makes me more excited than Annihilation ever did.