Birthdate: May 26, 1970
Birthplace: London, England, UK
Alex Garland (birthname: Alexander Medawar Garland) has developed a fascinating and diverse body of work in film, novels, and video games, often involving the impact of technology on society and the body, and the notion of how utopias can collapse. He achieved his greatest acclaim with his debut film as writer-director, Ex Machina (2014), and followed this with the underrated adaptation of cult novelist Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation.
Alex Garland’s first popular success was with his novel, The Beach, published in 1996, and sold nearly 700,000 copies worldwide. It was then adapted to the screen by Danny Boyle, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tilda Swinton, and established a creative partnership with Boyle that included his scripts for 28 Days Later (2002), with Cillian Murphy, and the science fiction drama, Sunshine (2007), once again with Murphy. Garland’s developing interest in dramatizing the realities of artificial intelligence continued with his screenplay adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s exquisite novel, Never Let Me Go (2010), with Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, and Keira Knightley.
Alex Garland stepped up to the director’s chair for a very different angle on A.I. drama with Ex Machina, with Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, and Alicia Vikander. Like his first novel, his first movie was a smashing success, including an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. Garland’s next feature, Annihilation, was a natural: A deep dive into the SF sub-genre known as “The New Weird,” fostered most by novelist Jeff VanderMeer, starring Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Gina Rodriguez.
Though the reception was less than hoped for, especially from Paramount Pictures, Garland proceeded with Hulu’s limited series, Devs (2020), which also explores the multiverse and the psychological impact of the outer realms of computer technology. Although Garland’s third feature, Men (2022), with Jessie Buckley and Rory Kinnear, based on his original screenplay, would seem to be a departure from his interest in technology, it centers on female characters encountering existential threats much like Annihilation and Devs.
Alex Garland filmed his fourth feature as writer-director, Civil War, in 2022 with stars Kirsten Dunst and Wagner Moura, and announced plans to film his screenplay, titled Halo, originally planned as a 2008 release and then canceled. Following The Beach, Garland has written two other novels, the experimental work, The Tesseract (1998), adapted to the screen and starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers in 2003; and The Coma (2004). He has also written and developed video games, including the series DmC: Devil May Cry.
Raised in London by parents Caroline, a psychologist, and Nicholas Garland, a political cartoonist, Alex Garland has a younger brother named Theodore and two paternal half-siblings. Garland’s maternal grandparents are the Nobel Prize-winning biologist Peter Medawar and author Jean Medawar.
He attended London’s University College School and graduated with an art history degree from the University of Manchester. Garland is married to actor-filmmaker Paloma Baeza; the couple has two children, Milo and Eva.
Uncredited: Alex Garland can claim a directing non-credit, for Dredd (2012), for which he is properly credited as a screenwriter. According to star Karl Urban, Garland was the true director, and not credited director Pete Travis.
Atheist: Garland has stated that he is an atheist, and writes in various genres from an atheist perspective.