Entertainment Movies Zach Braff Addresses Criticism of 'Garden State' Almost 20 Years After Its Release "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," Braff told The Independent By Melissa Montoya Published on March 22, 2023 01:11 AM Share Tweet Pin Email Photo: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic Almost 20 years after its release, Zach Braff is addressing the perceived shortcomings of 2004's Garden State. The Scrubs alum, 47, spoke about the film's criticisms during an interview with The Independent that was published Tuesday. The film — written and directed by Braff — follows his character Andrew Largeman, a struggling actor, who returns to his New Jersey home for his mother's death. During his time back, he meets Sam, who is played by Natalie Portman. Sam has been described as the original Manic Pixie Dream Girl, a term coined by film critic Nathan Rabin in 2007 "to describe female love interests with no discernible inner life but for some reason a desperate need to make sad leading men feel better about themselves," according to The Independent. Zach Braff Says He's in 'Awe' of Ex Florence Pugh's Talent: She's a 'Next-Level Actress' "I was just copying Diane Keaton in Annie Hall and Ruth Gordon in Harold and Maude," Braff told the online newspaper. "Those were my two favorite movies growing up, and I was kind of taking those two female protagonists and melding them into Natalie Portman. "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 added. Braff told the publication the process of writing the 2004 indie film came from his battle with "something." "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," Braff said. His character was prescribed anti-depressants by his father at an early age. Despite the criticism, Braff told the outlet, "I can't really dwell on it." "I mean, I just feel lucky that I get to make stuff," Braff said. Florence Pugh and Zach Braff Support Each Other on Red Carpet for Their Film 'A Good Person' After Breakup "Anyone who's ever got a bad grade on an essay from a teacher can relate – just imagine it was out there in public, you know," he added. "No one said being a creative person was easy, but you have to be vulnerable and authentically yourself. Otherwise, what's the point?" After many years of filmmaking, he said: "Your skin gets tougher." Braff's latest film, A Good Person, stars ex Florence Pugh, 27, Morgan Freeman, 85, and Molly Shannon, 58. RELATED VIDEO: Zach Braff Honors His Late Friend Nick Cordero with a Touching Tattoo Tribute Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories. Pugh and Braff began dating in 2019 but the actress revealed they broke up in an interview with Harper's BAZAAR in September of last year. On Monday, the Cheaper by the Dozen actor praised Pugh during an interview with Entertainment Tonight. "I'm just in awe of her talent and I said, 'I wanna write this for Florence. What I'm writing is really gonna be challenging, and she's incredible,' " he said, adding that Pugh is "a next-level actress" and "just unbelievable." "I wanted to write something for her and I had this image in my mind of that diner-booth scene and I thought of Florence Pugh opposite some legend that everyone's talking about," he added. A Good Person is in select theaters March 24, everywhere March 31.