‘Annihilation’ gets the star treatment at premiere

The cast of "Annihilation" before its premiere at the Regency Village Theatre in Westwood, California.

LOS ANGELES, CA-I had a lot of anxiety poking fun at me recently as I frantically battled Los Angeles’ finest traffic jam hour as I weaved my way in and out of the parking lot of cars called the 405 Freeway. For Angelenos, this is nothing new.

As a matter of fact, getting stuck in traffic is kind of like a rite of passage for those of us who live in Southern California. You expect it. But for me on this particular evening, as I put the pedal to medal as my Dodger Avenger bolted towards Westwood, I didn’t particularly care about the LA traffic tradition.

I needed to get to the Regency Village Theatre on time. Well, arriving at a movie theater for a premiere outlined with a healthy dose of red carpet fanfare, require you arrive early to beat the customary struggle with having to check-in and go through security before you find your landing spot.

Natalie Portman (left) and “Annihilation” co-star Gina Rodriguez at the film premiere in Westwood, California. Photo by Dennis J Freeman

It’s exactly ten minutes before actress Natalie Portman and her Annihilation crew would make their way down the red carpet to a warm reception from a bevy of camera lens, flashbulbs and media waiting with their microphones, notepads and phones to interview them.

Running out of time (and my mind), I rush into a nearby parking lot, take my $20 ticket, hand over my keys to the parking attendant and did my best Flash impression (which wasn’t much) and dashed over to the Regency Village Theatre to once again get acclimated to the frenetic world of red carpet craziness.

Covering a red carpet event, especially a movie premiere, can be both a supercool adrenaline rush and nerve-wracking at the same time as media members exhaustingly maneuver for the best position to get the right shot or line up to make sure talent doesn’t fly by them without giving out a comment or two. Sometimes, it can be the best of both worlds.

Janelle Monae atending the premiere of “Annihilation” In Westwood, California. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman

I wouldn’t have to worry about that problem this night as the spacing to cover the Paramount film event was solidly good. There seemed to be a cool down period on the carpet before the action began, and when it started, it rolled seamlessly. Movement picked up considerably when Gina Rodriguez (Anya) stepped up to the plate to get her share of flashing cameras, yelling photographers who barked out one instruction after another with relentless zeal.

Of course, the Annihilation co-star obliged, flashing her magnetic smile while strolling through with a dashing blue dress. Portman, dressed in a full-length black dress with shoulder wings, was impressively radiant as she made her way up and down the red carpet graciously through all the media mayhem. Like her “Lena” character in Annihilation, Portman looked poised, beautiful and ready to take on all-comers.

That’s a lot better than what I was doing. Things happen at such a high-volume pace on the red carpet that as a media member you have a working understanding that you must be on point at all times. If not, you’re likely to miss that shot you had hope to get or you’ll miss out on that interview you’re trying to land. That’s just the way it goes.

Actress Tessa Thompson plays the character Josie in the Paramount film “Annihilation.” Photo by Dennis J. Freeman

As the stars of the film glided their way to their interred space, I found myself fumbling with my equipment to make sure everything I recorded was right and on cue. The whirlwind continued as Portman and Rodriguez were shouted at by the lens people to come together for a joint pose. All eyes then fell on starlet Janelle Monae, who is a singing and acting phenom.

The Hidden Figures star brought her luscious aura to the carpet in the form of wearing a black see-through top, backed a black and white patterned bottom and climaxed with light blue boots to kick things off. After Jennifer Jason Leigh (Dr. Ventress) and Tuva Novotny made their appearances, Tessa Thompson (Josie) shut things down with her white-laced dress.

Thompson looked stunning. The camera maniacs were on top of things, calling for Thompson to position herself for centered-front pics and demanding over-the-shoulder, look-at-me patronage photos of the ultra-talented actress.

The intensity of the situation finally tampered down when a call for a group photo signaled a night’s work was coming to an end for me before the stars walked into the theatre to catch the premiere. When Oscar Isaac (Kane) walked in to close the carpet, that was pretty much a wrap. I picked up a cup of double-chocolate chip Frappuccino from Starbucks and had a slice of spinach-topped pizza and headed home.

Dennis J. Freeman
About Dennis J. Freeman 1212 Articles
Dennis covers the NFL (Chargers), NBA (Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers), Major League Baseball (Los Angeles Dodgers) and NCAA sports (USC, UCLA, Long Beach State). Dennis has also covered and written on topics such as civil rights, politics and social justice. Dennis is a proud alum of Howard University.