Zach Braff

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Zach Braff
Zach Braff 2011 Shankbone.JPG
Braff at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival Vanity Fair party
Born Zachary Israel Braff[1]
(1975-04-06) April 6, 1975 (age 39)
South Orange, New Jersey, US
Occupation Actor, director, screenwriter, producer
Years active 1993–present

Zachary Israel "Zach" Braff[1] (born April 6, 1975)[2] is an American actor, director and screenwriter. Braff first became known in 2001 for his role as Dr. John Dorian on the television series Scrubs, for which he was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series in 2005.

In 2004, Braff made his directorial debut with Garden State. He returned to his home state New Jersey to shoot the film, which was produced for $2.5 million. The film made over $35 million at the box office and was praised by critics, leading it to gain a cult following.[3] Braff wrote the film, starred in it, and compiled the soundtrack record. He won numerous awards for his directing work, and also won the Grammy Award for Best Soundtrack Album in 2005.

In April 2013, Braff announced he was launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to shoot a new film, titled Wish I Was Here.[4]

Early life[edit]

Braff was born in South Orange, New Jersey. His father, Harold Irwin "Hal" Braff, is a trial attorney and sociology professor, and his mother, Anne Brodzinsky (born Anne Hutchinson Maynard), worked as a clinical psychologist.[5] His parents divorced and re-married others during Braff's childhood.[6][7][8] One of his siblings, Joshua, is an author. Braff's father was born into a Jewish family, and Braff's mother, originally a Protestant, converted to Judaism before marrying his father.[9][10] Braff has said that he had a "very strong Conservative/Orthodox upbringing" (he was Bar Mitzvah at Oheb Shalom Congregation).[7][11] In 2005, he stated that he is "not a huge organized religion guy"[12] and, in 2013, that "the religion doesn’t necessarily work for me", although he identifies as Jewish.[13][14][15][16] Through his mother's New England ancestors, Braff is a ninth cousin of politician Mitt Romney.[17][18]

Braff wanted to be a filmmaker since his early childhood, and has described it as his "life dream".[19] Braff was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder at age ten.[20] During his childhood, Braff was a friend of former Fugees member Lauryn Hill. As a child, Zach Braff also attended Stagedoor Manor, a performing arts "training center" for youth actors between the ages 10–18. He fondly remembers his time there, as it was where he won an acting award and had his first kiss. Stagedoor is also where Braff met actor Josh Charles, who is still a friend of his; he knows many other SDM alums, including Natalie Portman, Mandy Moore, and Joshua Radin.[16] Braff attended the Northwestern University School of Communication where he became a brother of the Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity, and graduated in the class of 1997.[21]

Career[edit]

Early work and breakthrough[edit]

One of Braff's earliest roles was in High, a proposed 1989 CBS television series with a cast that also included Gwyneth Paltrow and Craig Ferguson; the television pilot never made it on air.[22] Braff appeared in the 1990 The Baby-sitters Club, in an episode titled "Dawn Saves the Trees".[23] He appeared in Woody Allen's 1993 film Manhattan Murder Mystery. In 1998, Braff had a part in a George C. Wolfe production of Macbeth for New York City's Public Theater.[24]

Braff played John "J.D." Dorian on the medical comedy TV series Scrubs which debuted in 2001. The role was Braff's first major role in a television show. Braff was nominated for three Golden Globes and an Emmy[25] for his work on the show. Braff directed several episodes of Scrubs, including its one-hundredth, "My Way Home". For the show's ninth season, Braff was a cast member for six episodes and also served as one of the executive producers.[26]

As director[edit]

Braff directed several episodes of Scrubs. Braff wrote, directed, produced, and starred in 2004's Garden State, which was filmed in his home state of New Jersey. Producers were initially reluctant to finance the film, which Braff wrote in six months.[27] At the 2005 Grammy Awards, his "mixtape"[28] won a Grammy for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media for the Garden State soundtrack;[29] In 2013 Braff launched a fund raiser on website Kickstarter, seeking to raise $2 million to finance his new film Wish I Was Here.[30] He was also the executive producer of the documentary Video Games: The Movie.[31]

Braff has directed several music videos: Gavin DeGraw's "Chariot",[32] Joshua Radin's "Closer" and "I'd Rather Be With You",[citation needed] Cary Brothers' "Ride",[citation needed] and Lazlo Bane's "Superman", the theme song from Scrubs.[33] His music production has resulted in newfound success for some of the artists featured on his film soundtracks, such as The Shins, who were prominently featured on the Garden State soundtrack and the Scrubs soundtrack, resulting in the expression "the Zach Braff effect".[34][35]

Other roles[edit]

Along with other Scrubs cast members, Braff has a small role playing himself in It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie.

Braff has done voice acting, providing the voice of the title character in Disney's animated film Chicken Little (2005), a role he reprised in the video game Kingdom Hearts II. Braff has also done voice overs for commercials, including a PUR water campaign, Wendy's TV commercials in 2007 and 2008,[36] as well as Cottonelle commercials, in which he provided the voice of a puppy.[33]

In 2005, Braff was featured on Punk'd when he was tricked into chasing a supposed vandal who appeared to be spray-painting his brand new Porsche.[37][38]

Braff was in talks to star in the film Fletch Won and had signed on to play the role eventually played by Dane Cook in Mr. Brooks,[39] but dropped out of both roles to work on Open Hearts, which he adapted from a Danish film and will direct. He has also co-written a film version of Andrew Henry's Meadow, a children's book, with his brother, and was scheduled to direct one of the segments for the film New York, I Love You.[40]

In July 2009, he signed on as an executive producer for the documentary Heart of Stone to "help spread the word about it".[41]

Braff starred in the romantic drama The Last Kiss, which opened on September 15, 2006. Braff tweaked several parts of Paul Haggis' script for the film, as he wanted the script to be as "real as possible" and "really courageous" regarding its subject matter.[42] As with Garden State, Braff was involved with the film's soundtrack, serving as executive producer.[29][42] The film's director, Tony Goldwyn, compared Braff to a younger version of Tim Allen, describing Braff as "incredibly accessible to an audience... a real guy, an everyman."[6]

In 2007, Braff starred in the film The Ex (2007), which he has described as a "silly comedy".[43]

Braff starred in the Canadian indie film The High Cost of Living with Quebec actress Isabelle Blais in 2010.[44] Directed by Deborah Chow, the film was shot in Montreal and principal photography wrapped on March 9, 2010. Braff stated he enjoyed filming in the country in which The Last Kiss was also shot.[45] The film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and was also shown at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Theatre[edit]

Braff returned to the Public Theater in 2002, in a part in Twelfth Night, staged in Central Park.[24][46] In mid-2010, Braff took a lead role in Trust, at the Second Stage Theatre, a contemporary Off-Broadway theater company. The play ran from July 23 to September 12, extending its scheduled run by one week.[47] Braff wrote on Facebook that he was "Having so much fun doing Trust". The play co-starred Sutton Foster, Ari Graynor and Bobby Cannavale, was written by Paul Weitz and directed by Peter DuBois. Braff played Henry, a wealthy married man who "looks to find something real in the most unlikely of places".[48]

In early 2011, Braff announced that he had written a play to be performed at the Second Stage Theatre in mid-2011. The play, All New People, is set on Long Beach Island and centers on Charlie, a 35-year-old from Braff's home state New Jersey. The play was directed by Peter DuBois, who directed Braff in Trust the previous year.[49] When announcing the play on Facebook, Braff wrote that 'one of my dreams comes true'.[50] In 2012, Braff moved the play on tour to the UK, playing in Manchester at the Manchester Opera House between February 8–11, Glasgow at the King's Theatre between February 14–18, and finally in London for 10 weeks at the Duke of York's Theatre from February 22.[51]

On April 10, 2014, Braff opened on Broadway in the musical Bullets Over Broadway The Musical, an adaptation of Woody Allen's 1994 film, directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman.[52]

In development[edit]

Braff's is expected to direct Open Hearts, a remake of the 2002 Danish film Elsker dig for evigt (Love You Forever). The film is about a woman who has an affair with her paralyzed husband's doctor, whose wife caused the accident that put her husband in a wheelchair. It was first revealed that Braff was directing Open Hearts in 2006,[53] at the same time that Braff's film The Last Kiss was being released.

In 2009, Braff was working on the script for Swingles, a film based on a spec script by Duncan Birmingham;[54][55] he will direct and star in alongside Cameron Diaz.[56]

On April 24, 2013, Braff started a Kickstarter campaign to finance "Wish I Was Here" which was based on a script he wrote with his brother Adam Braff.[4][57] The goal of $2,000,000 was reached in three days.[58] The film was released July 18, 2014, and thus is no longer in development.

Other pursuits[edit]

In 2009, Zach Braff opened up the restaurant Mermaid Oyster Bar in New York City with chef and high school friend Laurence Edelman.[59]

Proprietors of the Rio Theater in Monte Rio, California credited Braff with making the donation that put their Kickstarter campaign to buy a digital projector over its $60,000 goal in May 2013.[60]

Personal life[edit]

Braff's brother is author Joshua Braff; his stepsister is Jessica Kirson, a New York comedian.[7] He was in a relationship with model Taylor Bagley from 2009 to 2014.[61]

In November 2008, Braff earned his pilot's license flying a Cirrus SR20.[62]

In Episode #4.3 of the MTV show Punk'd, which aired on March 20, 2005, Braff was filmed assaulting a teenage actor. Braff unwittingly appeared on the show at the behest of his Scrubs costar Donald Faison, who pranked Braff by having the teenager spray-paint Braff's new Porsche with fake paint.[63]

In 2012, Braff endorsed the re-election campaign of Democratic President Barack Obama.[64]

Filmography[edit]

Actor[edit]

Film credits
Year Film Role Notes
1993 Manhattan Murder Mystery Nick Lipton
1999 Getting to Know You Wesley
2000 Endsville Dean
2000 Blue Moon Fred
2000 The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy Benji
2002 It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie Himself/John "J.D." Dorian TV film
2004 Garden State Andrew Largeman Central Ohio Film Critics Association for Breakthrough Film Artist
Nominated—MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss (shared with Natalie Portman)
Nominated—MTV Movie Award for Best Breakthrough Male Performance
Nominated—Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Breakthrough Performance
Nominated—Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie: Drama Actor
Nominated—Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie: Blush Scene
Nominated—Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie: Breakout Performance – Male
Nominated—Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie: Liplock (shared with Natalie Portman)
Nominated—Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie: Love Scene
2005 Chicken Little Chicken Little Voice only
2006 The Last Kiss Michael
2006 The Ex Tom Reilly
2010 The High Cost of Living Henry
2012 Tar Albert
2013 Oz the Great and Powerful Frank (live action)/Finley (voice)
2014 Wish I Was Here Aidan Bloom Also director, producer, writer
Television credits
Year Show Role Notes
1989 High Schoolkid Unaired CBS Pilot, also featured Craig Ferguson
1990 The Baby-Sitters Club David Cummings 1 episode
1994 CBS Schoolbreak Special Tony / Tammy 1 episode
2001–2010 Scrubs John "J.D." Dorian Main character and narrator (175 episodes)
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy (2005, 2006, 2007)
Nominated—Hollywood Foreign Press Association Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy (2005, 2006)
Nominated—People's Choice Award for Favorite Male Television Star (2005)
Nominated—People's Choice Award for Best Leading Star (2005)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (2005)
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy (2005)
Nominated—Teen Choice Award for Choice TV: Comedy Actor (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006)
2002 Clone High Paul Revere / X-Stream Mike 2 episodes (voice only)
2005–2006 Arrested Development Phillip Litt 2 episodes
2007 Saturday Night Live Himself 1 episode
2009 Scrubs: Interns John "J.D." Dorian 1 webisode
2010 Cougar Town Himself/Phone App/Pizza delivery guy 2 episodes
2012 The Exes Chuck Feeney 1 episode

Director[edit]

Film and television director
Year Film Notes
1997 "Lionel on a Sunday" Short film. Also writer
2004 Garden State Also writer and actor
Central Ohio Film Critics Association for Breakthrough Film Artist
Central Ohio Film Critics Association for Best New Director
Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Most Promising Filmmaker
Crystal Image Award
Florida Film Critics Circle's Pauline Kael Breakout Award
Hollywood Breakthrough Award for Breakthrough Directing
Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature (shared with producers Pamela Abdy, Gary Gilbert, Dan Halsted and Richard Klubeck)
National Board of Review Award for Best Directorial Debut
Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Breakthrough Filmmaker
Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Breakout of the Year – Behind the Camera
Nominated—Empire Award for Best Newcomer
Nominated—Humanitas Prize for Sundance Film
Nominated—Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay
Nominated—Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Original Screenplay
Nominated—Sundance Film Festival's Grand Jury Prize
Nominated—Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay
2004–2009 Scrubs 7 episodes
2008 Night Life TV film
2014 Wish I Was Here Also writer, producer and actor

Discography[edit]

Year Album Notes
2004 Garden State Compilation producer
Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media

References[edit]

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External links[edit]