You know that feeling— that feeling we would all love to relegate to our middle school years, but come on, let’s be real— when you find out that the people you totally admire and think are the coolest, think everything you like is totally dumb? Well, Natalie Portman also knows what that feels like. Apparently Portman has somehow managed to avoid the general movie-going consensus that Garden State and its troubled-hipster-meets-Manic-Pixie-Dream-Girl premise is no longer looked upon favorably. At the Toronto Film Festival this week, Portman talked a bit about what made her realize her mid-aughts quirk has turned punchline.
Portman sez she loves BROAD CITY & was horrified that GARDEN STATE and Zac Braff got ragged on in the show.— Jordan Hoffman (@jhoffman) September 9, 2015
Yup, Portman is a Broad City fan, as are we all (or SHOULD be). And she took note of the scene that gave us a window into Trey’s forever-uncool Zach Braff-loving soul.
I’ve been insecure about [Garden State] recently because of Broad City. Does anyone here watch Broad City?” Best show. If you haven’t watched it, watch it. And on the show there a really dorky characters 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, I’m gonna out myself and say that when Garden State came out, I went effing bananas over that movie. But of course I did! I was a college-aged girl who dreamt of being whimsical enough to get a young man off of his depression meds if only I could find the right combination of quirky medical issues and kooky sounds.
And then I became an adult. Luckily, so has Portman. She talked about why she loved the movie, and loved making it: She was also a college student, no one was pressuring her to make it, and she’d never seen a role like that. (Presumably she hadn’t been looking too hard.) But she also understands that that movie, and her role in it, look different over time, and with a little perspective.
When I read it I was like, ‘Oh, this is a character that’s wacky and interesting, and no one’s ever given me a chance to play something like this. It’s this sort of unusual girl. So that was my incentive to make it. But of course I see that 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.
What’s really amazing to me here is that Natalie Portman seems to have made it the last 11 years without ever hearing that Garden State has basically become a punchline for one-dimensional characters. Of course, she’s super busy raising beautiful children and being married to a beautiful dancer man in France and whatnot, so you do you, Portman.