Zach Braff is probably best known as protagonist John ‘J.D.’ Dorian from hit American comedy Scrubs, however, the 37 year old New Jerseyan’s CV is a lot more impressive than most would think.
As well as his nine-year stint on the hit medical comedy – bagging an Emmy and three Golden Globe nominations – Braff has turned his hand to both sides of the pen and camera with great success.
Son of a trial attorney and clinical psychologist, Braff was raised in South Orange, New Jersey, enrolling in performing arts camp Stagedoor Manor.
Joining an illustrious alumni list which includes Natalie Portman and Mandy Moore, Braff’s acting career began with New York productions of Twelfth Night and Macbeth before small television and silver screen roles led to his big break in 2001.
During his time on Scrubs, Braff stepped behind the cameras on a number of episodes including direction of the show’s 100th episode ‘My Way Home’ – an homage to the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz.
The actor’s silverscreen directorial debut came two years earlier however with Garden State, a film Braff wrote, directed, produced and starred alongside Portman.
With cameos from present day stars such as Jim Parsons and Peter Sarsgard, Garden State centres around Andrew Largeman (Braff) returning home to visit his estranged New Jersey family and friends having seen his LA acting dream fizzle.
While there, he encounters Sam (Portman) who brings a new meaning to his previously detached and numb life as well as prompting him to face the long-running issues with his father.
Garden State highlights Braff’s keen eye and is matched with an astute soundtrack, with it earning a Grammy in the process.
Braff’s versatility has also seen him star as the voice of Chicken Little and another stint joint-penning a screenplay, this time for The Last Kiss – based on Italian film L’ultimo bacio.
Also starring in the 2007 film, Braff turned his hand to selecting another stellar soundtrack including tracks from Coldplay, Snow Patrol and another Stagedoor graduate – Joshua Radin.
The Last Kiss focuses on Michael (Braff) and his personal struggles coming to terms with a planned future with his long-term partner Jenna (Jacinda Barrett). His early mid-life crisis comes to a head when he meets student seductress Kim (Rachel Bilson).
Surrounding Michael and Jenna are his group of friends all struggling with their own unique relationship dilemmas and the inner demons which lie beneath.
More recently, Braff returned to his stage roots, penning and starring in the UK run of his play All New People.
The play’s foursome cast go on a journey spurned by divine intervention after the central character, Charlie (Braff) has his suicide attempt interrupted by a stranger.
Braff’s upcoming works include another outing on both sides of the camera – writing, directing and starring in Open Hearts, the remake of a 2002 Danish film of the same name. The project was announced in 2006 at the same time as the release of The Last Kiss, however his work on Scrubs and casting difficulties have delayed its production.
Open Hearts will centre around two couples whose adulterous deeds revolve around a tragedy which brings them together.
Braff has also announced that he will direct and star in an alternative romantic comedy, Swingles alongside Cameron Diaz about a man dumped by his wingman who turns to an acid-tongued nemesis to help him meet the fairer sex.
Although Swingles appears to be an ominously predictable rom-com, there is no denying that Braff’s talent for crafting a whole cinematic package is only surpassed by his enthusiasm to painstakingly craft features which are more than lazy Sunday afternoon fillers.
His work adapting world cinema, interweaving symbolic shots alongside witty but unforced dialogue highlights his progression from hit actor to a future movie force to be reckoned with.
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