Natalie Portman Gets Real About Broad City and Those Manic Pixie Dream Girls
When you think Broad City, a lot of amazing things come to mind (and if you’re not already thinking about Broad City, you really, really should). But mostly likely, you’re not like, “That Broad City! It really makes Garden State seem the lamest of the lame!” Unless, of course, you’re Natalie Portman.
While speaking at an event she headlined at the Toronto International Film Festival this week, Natalie Portman revealed that she’s been rethinking her stance on Garden State after watching an episode of Broad City where the film is lightly bashed.
Just look at what she told the crowd and interviewer Cameron Bailey, artistic director at TIFF:
On the show there’s a really dorky character who’s a gym instructor, like an Equinox guy or something, and he’s the worst. And he’s like, ‘Oh my God, I love Garden State! I donated all my money to Zach Braff’s Kickstarter.’ And I’m like … ‘Oh my God.’ So now, because the people I think are the coolest think it’s really lame I’m kind of insecure about it.
Now, that quip about Garden State feels more like a throwaway than an attack on Portman or the film (if anything, it’s more of a bite at director/write/star Zach Braff). But like any normal human, Portman couldn’t help but be slightly taken aback by the feedback on a film that was a hit at the time and many people still love. (I’m not in that group, but, hey, we’re entitled to our own opinions, as is Portman.) And isn’t it kind of cool of her to be able to step back and look at her work in a new, somewhat critical way?
That’s certainly what she did later on in the evening when discussing the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope, which many say was reinforced by Sam, her character in Garden State and a role she took on initially because she hadn’t been “given a chance to play something like that” before.
Of course I see [the Manic Pixie Dream Girl] trope and I think it’s a good thing to recognize the way those female characters are used. I mean, I appreciate that people are writing characters that are interesting and unusual, rather than some bland female character as the girlfriend in a movie, but when the point of the character in this movie is to, like, help the guy have his arc, that’s sort of the problem, and that’s why it’s good that they’re talking about it, because it certainly is a troubling trope.
Kudos to Portman for admitting that even she, a hopeful feminist leader in Hollywood who keeps pushing for more female representation behind the scenes (her directorial debut, A Tale of Love and Darkness, premiered at TIFF!), can be involved in projects that might both help (see: the unique-ness of Sam) and hinder (see: the fact that Sam mainly fueled a male character’s arc) progress for women. Let’s hope that she continues to work against stereotypes and expectations for women as she becomes a filmmaker and continues her acting career.
Also, how’s about we get her on Broad City, rapping with Abbi and Ilana about playing Padmé?
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