10 years after ‘Garden State,’ Natalie Portman finally goes on the record about the whole Manic Pixie Dream Girl thing

When Garden State came out a decade ago, there weren’t too many movies like it: Strange, quirky dramedies that featured indie soundtracks and flouted romcom convention. In the years since, the film’s been lauded as a cult film, the kind of young adult-driven film that’s had a lasting impact on audiences. But Natalie Portman, one of the stars of the film, has finally addressed one of the biggest complaints about Garden State: Her character, Sam.

In an event at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival), Portman talked about how Sam’s become a poster child for the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. For those unfamiliar with the term, TV Tropes defines it as such: “She’s stunningly attractive, high on life, full of wacky quirks and idiosyncrasies (generally including childlike playfulness and a tendency towards petty crime), often with a touch of wild hair dye.” Though Portman’s Sam doesn’t have dyed hair, all of those other traits ring somewhat true, and have become a trademark feature of many the underwritten female romantic interest to a brooding, introspective, indie rock-listening man.

Portman shared her experience reading and playing the role, and elaborated on the legacy of “quirky girls” the character inspired:

In the years since Garden State, Portman’s won all of the awards for her many nuanced portrayals of genuinely interesting women (and she’s got more on the way), and now she’s gotten into the directing game with her upcoming film, A Tale of Love and Darkness. She’s always been a great advocate for women’s roles in entertainment, and with her own self-reflective take on one of her most famous character’s limitations, Portman proves that she’s all for moving the conversation around women in movies forward again.

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(Image courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures.)

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