Civil War Alex Garland
Kirsten Dunst in Civil War, A24

Civil War director and screenwriter Alex Garland is going out on a high — he plans to quit directing soon.

The director recently told The Guardian that he’s serious about wanting to leave the director’s chair behind. And he previously told French publication Le Point in 2022 that he wanted to retire from directing and just stick to screenwriting for a while.

He follows the example of Quentin Tarantino, who has announced that his next and tenth film, The Movie Critic, will be his last. He wants to go out on a high after the critical and box office success of 2019’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Civil War Director Alex Garland on His Plans to Quit Directing

“Nothing’s changed,” he told The Guardian on Saturday. “I’m in a very similar state. I’m not planning to direct again in the foreseeable future.”

Representatives for Garland did not immediately respond to MovieMaker‘s request for comment Monday, and representatives for A24, which distributed Civil War and his 2014 film Ex Machina, declined to comment.

However, Garland does currently have plans in motion to co-direct a new A24 war movie called Warfare alongside his Civil War military supervisor and former Navy SEAL Ray Mendoza, who will be making his directorial debut. Warfare will go into production this summer with Garland co-directing, a person with knowledge of the production confirmed to MovieMaker.

It will feature an ensemble cast including Will Poulter (Midsommar), Kit Connor (Rocketman) and Cosmo Jarvis (Shōgun) according to Deadline.

But after Civil War and excluding his co-directing role on Warfare, it seems that Garland has no interest in helming movies on his own for a while. He said the reason has nothing to do with studios or money.

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“The pressure doesn’t come from the money. It comes from the fact that you’re asking people to trust something that, on the face of it, doesn’t look very trustworthy,” he told The Guardian.

As an example, he cited Ex Machina actresses Alicia Vikander and Sonoya Mizuno “trusting that nudity is going to be dealt with thoughtfully and respectfully” even though “cinema leans towards not doing that.”

Civil War stars Kirsten Dunst (The Power of the Dog, The Virgin Suicides) alongside her real-life husband and fellow Power of the Dog star Jesse Plemons, as well as Wagner Moura (Narcos), Cailee Spaeny (Priscilla), Stephen McKinley Henderson (Dune, Ladybird) and Nick Offerman (Parks and Rec, The Last of Us).

The film, which has earned very strong reviews, follows a team of journalists as they trek across America in a dystopian future in which the country is divided in a modern civil war. They’re trying to reach Washington, D.C. before the rebel forces make it to the White House.

“There is something in the film which is trying to be protective of [journalists],” he told The Guardian. “I think serious journalism needs protecting, because it’s under attack, so I wanted to make those people ‘heroes’ to put them front and center.”

Garland is also the screenwriter behind 2000’s The Beach, based on his own 1996 novel and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, as well as 2002’s pandemic horror-thriller 28 Days Later and 2010’s Never Let Me Go. He made his feature directorial debut with the Oscar-nominated 2014 sci-fi thrillerEx Machina, and followed it with 2018’s sci-fi horror Annihilation, the 2020 mini-series Devs, and 2022’s British horror Men.

In 2022, he told Le Point about his plans to retire from directing for a while:

“I stopped being a novelist because it is an excessively solitary activity and, given my natural inclination towards isolation, it could have become unhealthy for me. Films are a noisy collaborative process, where contact with others is constant, and that’s what attracted me when I was younger. But cinema is also a very conservative environment, where the sums involved are infinitely greater than for writing a book, even on a very small budget,” he said.

“I constantly have to negotiate this creative freedom, which is very dear to me, and I am tired. My need for solitude has caught up with me and after Civil War,  which I am finishing filming, I am going to retire from directing for a long time.”

He added that he would still want to continue screenwriting: “It may pose other problems, in that I have never been satisfied with what the directors have done with my scripts, but at least I will have the impression of returning to a form of ‘craftsmanship. I need to take a step back and I am ready to put myself at the service of another’s vision.”

Civil War arrives in theaters on April 12.

Main Image: Kirsten Dunst in Civil War, A24