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Zach Braff

Zach Braff

Zachary Israel Braff[1] (born April 6, 1975)[2] is an American actor, director, screenwriter and producer. He is best known for his role as J. D. on the television series Scrubs (2001–2010), for which he was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series in 2005 and for three Golden Globe Awards from 2005 to 2007.[3] He starred in The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy (2000), The Last Kiss (2006), The Ex (2006) and In Dubious Battle (2016), and has done voice-work for Chicken Little (2005) and Oz the Great and Powerful (2013).

In 2004, Braff made his directorial debut with Garden State, which he also wrote, starred in, and compiled the soundtrack album for. He shot the film in his home state of New Jersey for a budget of $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.[4] He won numerous awards for his directing work and also won the Grammy Award for Best Soundtrack Album in 2005. Braff directed his second film, Wish I Was Here (2014), which he partially funded with a Kickstarter campaign.[5]

Braff appeared on stage in All New People, which he wrote and starred in.[6] It premiered in New York City in 2011 before playing in London's West End. He also played the lead role in a musical adaptation of Woody Allen's Bullets Over Broadway in 2014.

Zach Braff
Zach Braff 2011 Shankbone.JPG
Braff at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival Vanity Fair party
Zachary Israel Braff

(1975-04-06)April 6, 1975
South Orange, New Jersey, U.S.
ResidenceLos Angeles, California, U.S.
Alma materNorthwestern University
OccupationActor, director, screenwriter, producer
Years active1989–present
RelativesJoshua Braff (brother)

Early life and education

Braff was born in South Orange, New Jersey. His father, Harold Irwin "Hal" Braff, is a trial attorney and graduate and professor of Rutgers Law School, and his mother, Anne Brodzinsky (born Anne Hutchinson Maynard), worked as a clinical psychologist.[7][8] His parents divorced and remarried others during Braff's childhood.[9][10][11] One of his siblings, Joshua, is an author. Braff's father was born into a Jewish family,[12][13][14] and Braff's mother, originally a Protestant, converted to Judaism before marrying his father.[15][16] Braff said that he had a "very strong Conservative/Orthodox upbringing." He had his Bar Mitzvah at Oheb Shalom Congregation.[17][10][18] In 2005, he stated that he was "not a huge organized religion guy,"[19] and in 2013, he said that "the religion doesn't necessarily work for me," although he identifies as Jewish.[20][21][22][23] Through his mother's New England ancestors, Braff is a ninth cousin of 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.[24][25][26]

Braff has wanted to be a filmmaker since his early childhood, and has described it as his "life dream."[27] Braff was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder at age ten.[28] During his childhood, Braff was a friend of future Fugees member Lauryn Hill at Columbia High School, in Maplewood, New Jersey.[29] Braff also attended Stagedoor Manor, a performing arts "training center" for youth actors ages 10 to 18. It was there that he won an acting award and had his first kiss. Stagedoor is also where Braff met actor Josh Charles, who is still a friend. Braff also knows Stagedoor alums Natalie Portman, Mandy Moore, and Joshua Radin.[23] 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.[30]


Early work and breakthrough

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.[31] Braff appeared in the 1990s series The Baby-sitters Club, in an episode titled "Dawn Saves the Trees."[32] 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.[33]

Braff played "J.D." (short for his full name of John 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[34] 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.[35]

As director

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.[36] At the 2005 Grammy Awards, his "mixtape"[37] won a Grammy for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media for the Garden State soundtrack.[38]

On April 24, 2013, Braff started a Kickstarter campaign to finance the film Wish I Was Here, based on a script he wrote with his brother, Adam Braff.[5][39] The goal of $2,000,000 was reached in three days.[40] He directed and starred in the film, which was released in 2014.[41]

Braff was the executive producer of the documentary Video Games: The Movie.[42] He was also one of the Executive Producers of The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz, released in 2014.[43] He has directed several music videos: Gavin DeGraw's "Chariot,"[44] Joshua Radin's "Closer" and "I'd Rather Be With You," Cary Brothers' "Ride," and Lazlo Bane's "Superman," the theme song from Scrubs.[45] 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."[46][47]

Other roles

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

He also voiced the titular character in the Disney animated film Chicken Little (2005), and has reprised the role in various Disney video games such as Chicken Little, Kingdom Hearts II, Chicken Little: Ace in Action and Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD ReMIX. Braff has also done voiceovers for commercials, including a PUR water campaign, Wendy's in 2007 and 2008, and in Cottonelle as the voice of the puppy.[45][48] He also provided the voice of Finley in the Disney film Oz The Great and Powerful (2013). In 2005, Braff was featured on Punk'd when he was tricked into chasing and then beating a supposed vandal who appeared to be spray-painting his brand new Porsche.[49][50]

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,[51] 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.[52]

In July 2009, he signed on as an executive producer for the documentary Heart of Stone to "help spread the word about it."[53]

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.[54] As with Garden State, Braff was involved with the film's soundtrack, serving as executive producer.[38][54] 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."[9]

In 2007, Braff starred in the film The Ex (2007), which he has described as a "silly comedy."[55]

Braff starred in the Canadian indie film The High Cost of Living with Quebec actress Isabelle Blais in 2010.[56] 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.[57] The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and was also shown at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Braff played the lead role of Alex in Alex, Inc., a television comedy based on a family man who quit his radio career to launch a podcasting company. ABC cancelled the show after one season.[58]


Braff returned to the Public Theater in 2002, in a part in Twelfth Night, staged in Central Park.[33][59] 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.[60] 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."[61]

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.[62] When announcing the play on Facebook, Braff wrote that 'one of my dreams comes true'.[63] 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.[64]

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.[65]

In development

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,[66] however, the movie was cancelled. Braff said "It fell apart at the last second due to scheduling and budget, as so many movies do."[67] At the same time, 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;[68][69] he will direct and star in alongside Cameron Diaz.[70]

Other pursuits

In 2009, Braff opened up the restaurant Mermaid Oyster Bar in New York City with chef and high school friend Laurence Edelman, as well as Danny Abrams.[71]

Proprietors of the Rio Theater in Monte Rio, California credited Braff with making the donation that put their Kickstarter campaign over the target to buy a digital projector over its $60,000 goal in May 2013.[72]

Personal life

Braff's father Harold was a New Jersey attorney and among the founders of the state's American Inns of Court (AIC) and an elected trustee of the National Inns of Court Foundation.[73] He was widely recognized for furthering standards of excellence in the practice of law. Together with Braff's stepmother, marriage and family therapist Elaine Braff, he also taught PAIRS marriage and relationship education classes.[74][75]

His brother, Joshua Braff, is an author. His other brother, Adam Braff, is a writer and producer. His stepsister, Jessica Kirson, is a New York-based comedian.[10]

Braff began dating singer and actor Mandy Moore in 2004.[76][77] They ended their relationship in 2006 after two and half years of dating.[76][77][78]

In Episode 4.3 of the MTV show Punk'd, which aired on March 20, 2005, Braff was filmed yelling at a teenage actor. He unwittingly appeared on the show at the behest of his Scrubs co-star, Donald Faison, who pranked Braff by having an actor spray-paint Braff's new Porsche with fake paint. Braff pursued and caught the teen actor and tried to punch him in the stomach; this was edited out of the episode.[79][80][81] Braff later discussed it on Dax Shepard's podcast, Armchair Expert. He had realized something was going on, so he put on a show; however, he never punched the "teen," who was actually an adult actor.

In November 2008, Braff earned his pilot's license flying a Cirrus SR20.[82]

Political views

Braff, a Democrat, endorsed the re-election campaign of President Barack Obama.[83]

He has accused Republican politicians of lying, saying "What is frustrating is the lying. I know every politician spins the truth a little, but when you happen to know the facts and you see Paul Ryan's speech you are like 'Wait a minute. So much of that is not true.'"[84]



1993Manhattan Murder MysteryNick Lipton
1997Lionel on a SundayAlso writer
Short film
1999Getting to Know YouWesley
2000Blue MoonFred
2000The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic ComedyBenji
2004Garden StateAndrew LargemanAlso director, writer, executive soundtrack producer
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 First Screenplay
Nominated – Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Original Screenplay
Nominated – Sundance Film Festival's Grand Jury Prize
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 Actor: Drama
Nominated – Teen Choice Award for Choice Blush Scene
Nominated – Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie: Male Breakout Star
Nominated – Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Liplock (shared with Natalie Portman)
Nominated – Teen Choice Award for Choice Love Scene
Nominated – Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay
2005Chicken LittleChicken Little (voice)
2006The Last KissMichael
2006The ExTom Reilly
2006Employee of the Month (2006 film)Kooky Blonde Guy
2010The High Cost of LivingHenry
2012The Color of TimeAlbert
2013Oz the Great and PowerfulFrank / Finley (voice)
2014Wish I Was HereAidan BloomAlso director, producer and writer
2016In Dubious BattleConnor
2017Going in StyleDirector
2017The Disaster ArtistHimself
TBAThe Comeback TrailWalter CreasonPost-production


1989HighSchoolkidUnaired CBS Pilot
1990The Baby-Sitters ClubDavid CummingsEpisode: "Dawn Saves the Trees"
1994CBS Schoolbreak SpecialTony / TammyEpisode: "My Summer as a Girl"
2001–2010ScrubsJohn "J.D." DorianMain role and narrator (175 episodes)
Director (7 episodes; 2004–2009)
Executive producer (2009–10)
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 Actor: Comedy (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006)
2002Clone HighPaul Revere / X-Stream Mike (voices)2 episodes
2002It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas MovieHimself/John "J.D." DorianTelevision film
2005–06Arrested DevelopmentPhillip LittUncredited
2 episodes
2006Nobody's WatchingHimselfTelevision film
2009Scrubs: InternsJohn "J.D." DorianEpisode: "Our Meeting with J.D."
2010Cougar TownPizza GuyUncredited
Episode: "A One Story Town"
2012The ExesChuck FeeneyEpisode: "He's Gotta Have It"
2014CommunityJ.D. (voice)Uncredited
Episode "Repilot"
2014Inside Amy SchumerRobEpisode: "I'm So Bad"
2015UndateableZach2 episodes
2017Bill Nye Saves the WorldHimselfEpisode: "Earth is a Hot Mess"
2017BoJack HorsemanHimself (voice)Episode: "Underground"
2018Alex, Inc.Alex SchumanAlso director and executive producer
2019Whiskey CavalierDirector (Episode: "Mrs. & Mr. Trowbridge")

Video games

2005Chicken LittleChicken Little
2005Kingdom Hearts II
2006Disney's Chicken Little: Ace in Action
2014Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIXChicken Little (archive footage)
2017Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 ReMIX


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


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