Zachary Israel Braff
April 6, 1975
South Orange, New Jersey, U.S.
|Alma mater||Northwestern University|
|Occupation||Actor, director, producer, screenwriter|
|Partner(s)||Florence Pugh (2019-present)|
|Family||Joshua Braff (brother)|
Zachary Israel Braff (born April 6, 1975) is an American actor, director, producer and screenwriter. 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. 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), Oz the Great and Powerful (2013), and the Netflix series Bojack Horseman (2017–2020).
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. 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.
Braff appeared on stage in All New People, which he wrote and starred in. 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.
Early life and education
Braff was born in South Orange, New Jersey and grew up there and in neighboring Maplewood. His father, Harold Irwin "Hal" Braff (1934–2018), was a trial attorney, professor and alumnus at Rutgers Law School, a founder of the state's American Inns of Court (AIC) and an elected trustee of the National Inns of Court Foundation. His mother, Anne Brodzinsky (born Anne Hutchinson Maynard), worked as a clinical psychologist. His parents divorced and remarried others during Braff's childhood. One of his siblings, Joshua, is an author. His other brother, Adam Braff, is a writer and producer. His stepsister, Jessica Kirson, is a New York-based stand-up comedian. Braff's father was born into a Jewish family, and Braff's mother, originally a Protestant, converted to Judaism before marrying his father. Braff said that he had a "very strong Conservative/Orthodox [Jewish] upbringing." He had his Bar Mitzvah service at Oheb Shalom Congregation. In 2005, he stated that he was "not a huge organized religion guy," and in 2013, he said that "the religion doesn't necessarily work for me," although he identifies as Jewish.
Braff has wanted to be a filmmaker since his early childhood, and has described it as his "life dream." Braff was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder at age ten. During his childhood, Braff was a friend of future Fugees member Lauryn Hill at Columbia High School, in Maplewood, New Jersey. 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. 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.
Early work and breakthrough
One of Braff's earliest roles was in How 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. Braff appeared in the 1990s series The Baby-sitters Club, in an episode titled "Dawn Saves the Trees." 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.
Braff played "J.D." (short for his full name of John Dorian) on the medical comedy television 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 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.
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. At the 2005 Grammy Awards, his "mixtape" won a Grammy for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media for the Garden State soundtrack.
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. The goal of $2,000,000 was reached in three days. He directed and starred in the film, which was released in 2014.
Braff was the executive producer of the documentary Video Games: The Movie. He was also one of the Executive Producers of The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz, released in 2014. He has directed several music videos: Gavin DeGraw's "Chariot," Joshua Radin's "Closer" and "I'd Rather Be With You," and Lazlo Bane's "Superman," the theme song from Scrubs. 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."
In 2020, Braff directed the short film In The Time It Takes To Get There, starring Alicia Silverstone and Florence Pugh. The film was based on a poster created by Sam West, the winner of an Adobe movie poster contest in 2018.
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. 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.
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, 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.
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. As with Garden State, Braff was involved with the film's soundtrack, serving as executive producer. 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."
In 2007, Braff starred in the film The Ex (2007). He also starred in the Canadian indie film The High Cost of Living with Quebec actress Isabelle Blais in 2010. 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. The film premiered at the Toronto International 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. 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. 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."
In early 2011, Braff announced that he had written a play to be performed at the Second Stage Theatre in mid-2011. His 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. When announcing the play on Facebook, Braff wrote that 'one of my dreams comes true'. 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.
Braff 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, however, the movie was cancelled. Braff said "It fell apart at the last second due to scheduling and budget, as so many movies do." At the same time, Braff's film The Last Kiss was being released.
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.
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.
In March 2020, Braff and Scrubs co-star Donald Faison launched a weekly comedy podcast titled Fake Doctors, Real Friends. In the podcast, distributed by iHeartRadio, the duo rewatch the series episode by episode and share stories and experiences of their time on set. Guests on the podcast include their co-stars Sarah Chalke, Judy Reyes, Neil Flynn, John C. McGinley, Christa Miller and Ken Jenkins, as well as the show's creator, Bill Lawrence and director, Michael Spiller.
Braff began dating singer and actor Mandy Moore in 2004. They ended their relationship in 2006 after two and half years of dating. He was in a relationship with model Taylor Bagley from 2009 to 2014. Since April 2019, he has been in a relationship with English actress Florence Pugh. Braff directed her in his 2019 short film In The Time It Takes To Get There. They reside in Los Angeles.
In an episode of the MTV show Punk'd that aired on March 20, 2005, Braff 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 washable paint. Braff pursued and caught the teen actor and tried to punch him, striking the arm of another actor instead; this was edited out of the episode. In November 2008, Braff earned his pilot's license flying a Cirrus SR20.
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.'"
|1989||High||Schoolkid||Unaired CBS Pilot|
|1990||The Baby-Sitters Club||David Cummings||Episode: "Dawn Saves the Trees"|
|1994||CBS Schoolbreak Special||Tony / Tammy||Episode: "My Summer as a Girl"|
|2001–2010||Scrubs||John "J.D." Dorian||Main role 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 Actor: Comedy (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006)
|2002||Clone High||Paul Revere / X-Stream Mike (voices)||2 episodes|
|2002||It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie||Himself/John "J.D." Dorian||Television film|
|2005–06||Arrested Development||Phillip Litt||Uncredited|
|2006||Nobody's Watching||Himself||Television film|
|2009||Scrubs: Interns||John "J.D." Dorian||Episode: "Our Meeting with J.D."|
|2010||Cougar Town||Pizza Guy||Uncredited|
Episode: "A One Story Town"
|2012||The Exes||Chuck Feeney||Episode: "He's Gotta Have It"|
|2014||Inside Amy Schumer||Rob||Episode: "I'm So Bad"|
|2017||Bill Nye Saves the World||Himself||Episode: "Earth is a Hot Mess"|
|2017–2020||BoJack Horseman||Himself (voice)||2 episodes|
|2018||Alex, Inc.||Alex Schuman||10 episodes|
|2005||Chicken Little||Chicken Little|
|2005||Kingdom Hearts II|
|2006||Disney's Chicken Little: Ace in Action|
|2014||Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX||Chicken Little (archive footage)|
|2017||Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 ReMIX|
|1997||Lionel on a Sunday||Short film|
|2008||Night Life||Television film|
|Joshua Radin: I'd Rather Be with You - First Version||Video short|
|2014||Wish I Was Here|
|2015||Self Promotion||Television film|
|2017||Going in Style|
|2018||Alex, Inc.||4 episodes|
|2019||In The Time It Takes To Get There||Short film|
|2020||Ted Lasso||1 episode|
|2004||Garden State||Executive soundtrack producer|
|2008||Night Life||Television film|
|2009||Scrubs: Interns||Executive producer|
|2010||Positive Comment||Short film|
|2014||Wish I Was Here|
|Video Games: The Movie||Documentary|
|2018||Alex, Inc.||9 episodes|
|1997||Lionel on a Sunday||Short film|
|2014||Wish I Was Here|
|2019||In The Time It Takes To Get There||Short film|
|2004||Garden State||Compilation producer|
Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media
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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.
- Duncan Birmingham
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