How 'Pixie' subverts the tired 'manic pixie dream girl' trope (exclusive)

Watch: The cast of Pixie discuss the inspiration for the character

British-Irish comedy thriller Pixie hits cinemas today. Coming from British writer-director duo Preston and Barnaby Thompson (Wayne’s World), the film stars Olivia Cooke (Ready Player One) as Pixie, a character who is endlessly enigmatic and just as watchable.

Pixie, the daughter of a big time mob boss, masterminds a heist amidst the Irish gangster underworld, which leads her and two friends to go on the run, across the Irish countryside. While the adventure involves action, violence, drugs, and killer gangster priests, the entire film hangs on the charm of its central character.

So, when Yahoo Movies UK spoke to the cast, writer and director, we wanted to know how Pixie herself was created.

“She was just really there on the page. She was really unapologetic and mischievous and naughty,” Olivia Cooke tells us.

A still from new release Pixie (Paramount)
A still from new release Pixie (Paramount)

Rather than look to other characters for inspiration, Cooke looked inward when it came to bringing Pixie’s personality to life: “I think with any character that you play, it's always coming from the prism of you, so you just dial up whatever attributes that you have to offer. It was really fun to play up those parts of myself.”

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Writer Preston Thompson revealed that, as echoed in the title, the character is inspired by the ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’ trope made popular – and later, made into a pop culture punchline – by characters in mid-oughts rom-coms, such as Natalie Portman’s Sam in Garden State (2004) and Zooey Deschanel’s also titular Summer in 2009’s 500 Days of Summer.

Watch: The trailer for Pixie

“In terms of inspiration… there's that Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope, the best versions of it being 500 Days of Summer or Garden State. But it often has these female characters as vessels for the men to learn and change from, and then they kind of wither off, by the time the final act comes to a head,” Thompson explains to Yahoo.

“I really wanted to do something that kind of set her up as that and then defied expectations. That's why she was called Pixie. She has all these idiot men look to her to change them, and really, she's just driving straight on to the end. and she's going to use all of them.”

A still from new release Pixie (Paramount)
A still from new release Pixie (Paramount)

“So it was more about inverting a trope that I had noticed over the last 15 years in movies, that was the inspiration for it,” Thompson adds.

Pixie is in cinemas now.