Zach Braff

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Zach Braff
Zach Braff 2011 Shankbone.JPG
Braff at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival Vanity Fair party
BornZachary Israel Braff[1]
(1975-04-06) April 6, 1975 (age 38)
South Orange, New Jersey, US
OccupationActor, director, screenwriter, producer
Years active1993–present
Zach Braff on Facebook
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Zach Braff
Zach Braff 2011 Shankbone.JPG
Braff at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival Vanity Fair party
BornZachary Israel Braff[1]
(1975-04-06) April 6, 1975 (age 38)
South Orange, New Jersey, US
OccupationActor, director, screenwriter, producer
Years active1993–present
Zach Braff on Facebook

Zachary Israel "Zach" Braff[1] (born April 6, 1975) is an American actor and director. 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 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.[2] 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.[3]

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.[4] His parents divorced and re-married others during Braff's childhood.[5][6][7] 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.[8][9] Braff has said that he had a "very strong Conservative/Orthodox upbringing" (he was Bar Mitzvah at Oheb Shalom Congregation).[6][10] In 2005, he stated that he is "not a huge organized religion guy"[11] and, in 2013, that "the religion doesn’t necessarily work for me".[12][13][14] Through his mother's New England ancestors, Braff is a distant cousin of politician Mitt Romney.[15][16] Braff was also friends with former Fugees member Lauryn Hill.

Braff wanted to be a filmmaker since his early childhood, and has described it as his "life dream".[17][dead link]

Braff was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder at age ten.[18] 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.[14] Braff attended the Northwestern University School of Communication where he was a brother of the Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity, and graduated in the class of 1997.[19]


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.[20] Braff appeared in the 1990 The Baby-sitters Club, in an episode titled "Dawn Saves the Trees".[21] 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.[22]

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[23] 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.[24]

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.[25] At the 2005 Grammy Awards, his "mixtape"[26] won a Grammy for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media for the Garden State soundtrack;[27] In 2013 Braff launched a fund raiser on website Kickstarter, seeking to raise $2 million to finance his new film Wish I Was Here.[28]

Braff has directed several music videos: Gavin DeGraw's "Chariot",[29] 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.[30] 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".[31][32]

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,[33] as well as Cottonelle commercials, in which he provided the voice of a puppy.[30]

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.[34][35]

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,[36] 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.[37]

In July 2009, he signed on as an executive producer for the documentary Heart of Stone to "help spread the word about it".[38]

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.[39] As with Garden State, Braff was involved with the film's soundtrack, serving as executive producer.[27][39] 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."[5]

In 2007, Braff starred in the film The Ex (2007), which he has described as a "silly comedy".[40]

Braff starred in the Canadian indie film The High Cost of Living with Quebec actress Isabelle Blais in 2010.[41] 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.[42] The film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and was also shown at the Tribeca Film Festival.


Braff returned to the Public Theater in 2002, in a part in Twelfth Night, staged in Central Park.[22][43] 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.[44] 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".[45]

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.[46] When announcing the play on Facebook, Braff wrote that 'one of my dreams comes true'.[47] 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.[48]

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,[49] 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;[50] he will direct and star in alongside Cameron Diaz.[51]

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.[3][52] The goal of $2,000,000 was reached in three days.[53]

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.[54]

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.[55]

Personal life[edit]

Braff's brother is author Joshua Braff; his stepsister is Jessica Kirson, a New York comedian.[6] He has been in a relationship with model Taylor Bagley since 2009.[56]

In November 2008, Braff earned his pilot's license flying a Cirrus SR20.[57]



Film credits
1993Manhattan Murder MysteryNick Lipton
1999Getting to Know YouWesley
2000Blue MoonFred
2000The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic ComedyBenji
2002It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas MovieHimself/John "J.D." DorianTV film
2004Garden StateAndrew LargemanCentral 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
2005Chicken LittleChicken LittleVoice only
2006The Last KissMichael
2006The ExTom Reilly
2010The High Cost of LivingHenry
2013Oz the Great and PowerfulFrank (live action)/Finley (voice)Co-main role
2014Wish I Was HereAidan BloomFilming, also Director, Producer, Writer
Television credits
1989HighSchoolkidUnaired CBS Pilot, also featured Craig Ferguson
1990The Baby-Sitters ClubDavid Cummings1 episode
1994CBS Schoolbreak SpecialTony / Tammy1 episode
2001–2010ScrubsJohn "J.D." DorianMain 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)
2002Clone HighPaul Revere / X-Stream Mike2 episodes (voice only)
2005–2006Arrested DevelopmentPhillip Litt2 episodes
2007Saturday Night LiveHimself1 episode
2009Scrubs: InternsJohn "J.D." Dorian1 webisode
2010Cougar TownHimself/Phone App/Pizza delivery guy2 episodes
2012The ExesChuck Feeney1 episode


Film and television director
1997"Lionel on a Sunday"Short film. Also writer
2004Garden StateAlso 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
2001–2009Scrubs7 episodes
2008Night LifeTV film
2014Wish I Was HereFilming


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


  1. ^ a b ‘Scrubs’ Star Zach Braff Wows U. of Florida Fans
  2. ^ "Garden State – Trailers – Movie Reviews". Retrieved April 5, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b "Kickstarter campaign for Garden State sequel". 3 News NZ. April 25, 2013. 
  4. ^ Who's who in American Jewry. Standard Who's Who. 1980. p. 60. 
  5. ^ a b Dawson, Angela (September 6, 2006). "Braff's 'Kiss'". AZ Central. Retrieved May 24, 2007. 
  6. ^ a b c Bloom, Steven M. (July 15, 2004). "Back in the 'Garden State'". New Jersey Jewish News. Retrieved May 24, 2007. 
  7. ^ "Zach Braff Biography (1975–)". Retrieved April 5, 2010. 
  8. ^ Questions & Answers / A conversation with Joshua Braff at the Wayback Machine (archived May 7, 2010). (May 4, 2010)
  9. ^ "Q&A with Zach Braff". Schmooze Magazine. Retrieved March 9, 2013. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ Kepnes, Caroline (November 14, 2005). "Shmoozin' with Zach Braff". Hillel. Retrieved November 4, 2010. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ Zeitchik, Steven (July 30, 2011). "Zach Braff stages a career move". Los Angeles Times. 
  14. ^ a b Matthews, Dana. "Zach Braff Is Not Ashamed of His Theatre Geek Past". Vanity Fair Online. Retrieved May 1, 2012. 
  15. ^ Healy, Dara (March 1, 2012). "Zach Braff and Mitt Romney 'related through a witch'". Retrieved March 9, 2013. 
  16. ^ "Jewz in the Newz". The American Israelite. March 14, 2012. Retrieved March 9, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Life After 'Garden State'". September 9, 2006. Retrieved May 24, 2007. [dead link]
  18. ^ "The next Woody Allen? – Film". November 26, 2004. Retrieved April 5, 2010. 
  19. ^ "Notable Alumni". Northwestern University School of Communication. Retrieved March 21, 2013. 
  20. ^ "Gwyneth Paltrow's Forgotten Pilot". Retrieved March 9, 2013. 
  21. ^ (March 12, 1990). "The Babysitters Club – Season 1, Episode 11: Dawn Saves the Trees". Retrieved March 9, 2013. 
  22. ^ a b Oxfeld, Jesse (August 2011). "Zach Braff's Theater Debut". Observer. Retrieved March 9, 2013. 
  23. ^ "Zach Braff Emmy Nominated". Retrieved March 9, 2013. 
  24. ^ "Bill Lawrence: Judy Reyes won't appear in season nine, and other Scrubs news". Retrieved October 16, 2009. 
  25. ^ "60 SECONDS: Zach Braff". October 19, 2006. Retrieved May 9, 2007. 
  26. ^ Fogleman, Chelsea (March 3, 2008). "McMainstream: The Evolving Independence Of The Music Scene". Retrieved March 9, 2013. "Zach Braff's self-described 'mixtape' that-went-on-to-win-a-Grammy got music lovers humming Frou Frou, Iron & Wine, and The Shins almost overnight." 
  27. ^ a b Erstein, Hap (September 10, 2006). "Goodbye, Scrubs?". The Oxford Press. Retrieved May 9, 2007. 
  28. ^ "Zach Braff Raises over 2 million on Kickstarter for "Garden State" Sequel". 
  29. ^ Braff, Zach (March 21, 2005). "Warning: Not Funny!". Zach Braff's Garden State Blog. Retrieved May 24, 2007. 
  30. ^ a b Osovski, Skylar (March 7, 2013). "5 projects attached to Zach Braff". Norfolk Daily News. Retrieved July 1, 2013. 
  31. ^ Leopold, Todd (September 26, 2008). "Singer has some fame, but no 'Zach Braff effect'". (CNN). Retrieved September 26, 2008. 
  32. ^ Lester, Paul (March 16, 2007). "Frodo gets funky". The Guardian (London). Retrieved September 26, 2008. 
  33. ^ Keller, Joel. Zach Braff says he's not a jerk TV Squad (June 26, 2007). Retrieved on 2-13-09.
  34. ^ "Braff Busted Beating Up Teen on 'Punk'd'". September 14, 2006. Archived from the original on January 25, 2013. Retrieved July 1, 2008. 
  35. ^ ""Punk'd" Episode #4.3 (2005)". March 20, 2005. Retrieved April 15, 2007. 
  36. ^ Kepnes, Caroline (May 23, 2007). "Dane Cook: Employee of the Month. I'm Serious". E! Online. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved May 24, 2007. 
  37. ^ Goldberg, Matt (May 21, 2009). "Zach Braff hangs with SWINGLES". Retrieved September 16, 2009. 
  38. ^ "Heart of Stone post". Facebook. Retrieved April 5, 2010. 
  39. ^ a b Adler, Shawn (September 7, 2007). "Can This Love "Last"?". MTV Movies. Retrieved April 15, 2007. 
  40. ^ Murray, Rebecca (September 8, 2007). "Zach Braff Discusses Fletch Won". Retrieved April 15, 2007. 
  41. ^ Lavallee, Eric. IonCinema "The High Cost of Living". IonCinema. 
  42. ^ Kelly, Brendan. "The High Cost of Living". Montreal Gazette. 
  43. ^ "Trust Star Zach Braff on His Wild New Role and Life After Scrubs". August 16, 2010. Retrieved March 31, 2011. 
  44. ^ Bacalzo, Dan (August 2, 2010). "Second Stage's Trust, Starring Zach Braff and Sutton Foster, to Extend Through September 12". Retrieved March 31, 2011. 
  45. ^ Healy, Patrick (June 1, 2010). "Zach Braff to Star Off Broadway in 'Trust'". Retrieved March 31, 2011. 
  46. ^ Hetrick, Adam (March 9, 2011). "Zach Braff's All New People Will Debut at Second Stage This Summer". Retrieved March 31, 2011. 
  47. ^ "Zach Braff". Facebook. Retrieved March 31, 2011. 
  48. ^ "All New People". All New People. April 30, 2012. 
  49. ^ "Open Hearts Movie - Zach Braff to Direct Open Hearts -". Retrieved April 5, 2010. 
  50. ^ "Hi friends. Enjoying a pretty day in Los Angeles...". Facebook. July 14, 2009. Retrieved October 30, 2010. "Hi friends. Enjoying a pretty day in Los Angeles. I'm working everyday on a script called "Swingles" that I'm gonna direct and act in starring the beautiful and Very Funny Ms. Cameron Diaz." 
  51. ^ Sciretta, Peter; grez868 (May 21, 2009). "Braff to direct and star alongside Cameron Diaz". Retrieved October 13, 2009. 
  52. ^ "Kickstarter page of WISH I WAS HERE project". 
  53. ^ Franich, Darren (April 27, 2013). "Zach Braff's Kickstarter movie reaches $2 million goal". 
  54. ^ Ng, Shelley (November 17, 2009). "Mermaid Oyster Bar". Pix 11 Morning News. 
  55. ^ Meline, Gabe. "Zach Braff Saves the Rio Theater in Monte Rio". Bohemian / Boho Blog. 
  56. ^ Zach Braff And Taylor Bagley Enjoy A NYC Day. (March 17, 2010).
  57. ^ "Zach Braff's love of flying". Retrieved April 5, 2010. 

External links[edit]