Zach Braff Wrote Garden State Manic Pixie Dream Girls to Heal from Being a Very Depressed Young Man’

Zach Braff is opening up about falling under the spell of the manic pixie dream girl male fantasy.

The “Garden State” director has been criticized for perpetuating the trope most prominently in his 2004 directorial debut starring Natalie Portman. The manic pixie dream girl label refers to unconventional, one-dimensional female characters who ultimately ease the lead male character’s existential despair and change his perspective on life.

“I was just copying Diane Keaton in ‘Annie Hall’ and Ruth Gordon in ‘Harold and Maude,’” Braff told The Independent about crafting Portman’s character Sam. “Those were my two favorite movies growing up, and I was kind of taking those two female protagonists and melding them into Natalie Portman.”

Braff added, “Of course I’ve heard and respect the criticism, but I was a very depressed young man who had this fantasy of a dream girl coming along and saving me from myself, and so I wrote that character.”

Braff acknowledged that his OCD diagnosis and depression affected his writing process.

“I knew I was battling something. That’s what writing ‘Garden State’ was about,” Braff said, citing his character Andy. “I wasn’t as extreme as Andy, but I was certainly battling my own demons. As I was writing it, I was hoping I could survive what became known as the quarter-life crisis, and depression, and fantasizing that the perfect woman would come along and rescue me.”

The “A Good Person” writer-director-producer summed up, “I just feel lucky that I get to make stuff. I can’t really dwell on it. No one said being a creative person was easy, but you have to be vulnerable and authentically yourself. Otherwise, what’s the point? Your skin gets tougher. When you’re young, you’re very vulnerable. But I’ve been doing this for 20 years now. You get used to it.”

Braff told IndieWire in 2004 when “Garden State” debuted that he was constantly concerned he was “fucking this up” during production. Braff cited Todd Haynes’ “Safe,” Woody Allen’s “Manhattan,” and Alexander Paynes’ films as inspirations behind the coming-of-age story.

“I want to make more movies like ‘Garden State,’” Braff said at the time, referencing a need to capture the “social temperature” of a generation in a “lose memoir” of his personal debut film.

Source: Read Full Article