Zach Braff’s career began with his success as an actor, but he has since found equal recognition for his distinctive writing, producing and directing of successful feature films, television series, branded entertainment and stage productions.
One of the New Jersey native’s most notable characters is Dr. John “J.D.” Dorian on the beloved television series “Scrubs.” During the half-hour comedy’s nine-year run (175 episodes), Braff earned a Primetime Emmy and three consecutive Golden Globe nominations (2005-07) for his starring role. In addition to directing seven episodes of “Scrubs,” Braff made his feature film debut behind the camera as the director and writer of his original comedy-drama Garden State, in which he also starred. The film premiered at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival where it earned a Grand Prize Jury nomination and was sold to two studios, Fox Searchlight and Miramax. With a cast including Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard and Ian Holm, Garden State grossed over $35 million at the box office, won praise from film critics and received more than three-dozen award nominations including an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature and nomination for Best First Screenplay. The movie’s breakthrough soundtrack sold more than 1,000,000 copies and earned Braff a Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album.
Braff’s latest work as a director/writer is with RSA Films, a branded short called In The Time It Takes To Get There for Adobe starring Florence Pugh and Alicia Silverstone. The quirky comedy is set in the 19th century and imagines a day in the life of the first social media influencer. Part of a campaign from Pereira O’Dell, the short was inspired by the winning poster from a #MoviePosterMovie contest from B.U. college student Sam West. In The Time It Takes To Get There received widespread praise from media tastemakers.
Braff made history in spring 2013 when he funded his second feature film, comedy-drama Wish I Was Here, via an online crowd-funding campaign on Kickstarter. It starred Kate Hudson, Mandy Patinkin and Josh Gad and centers on Braff’s character, Aidan Bloom; it was released by Focus Features in 2014. He directed a remake of the hit 1979 Martin Brest caper comedy Going in Style for Warner Brothers Studios in 2017. Academy Award winners Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin reprised the roles originally played by George Burns, Lee Strasberg, Art Carney. And he went on to direct the indie film Percy starring opposite Christina Ricci and Christopher Walken.
Braff returned to TV in 2018; directing, producing and starring in the ABC/Sony pilot “Alex, Inc.” with “Scrubs” writer/producer Matt Tarses, based on Alex Blumberg’s popular podcast. Other recent acting highlights include The Disaster Artist, “Inside Amy Schumer,” “Community,” “Arrested Development” and “BoJack Horseman” (voicing himself).
Braff made his Broadway debut in 2014 as lead character David Shayne in Bullets Over Broadway. In 2012, he made his West End debut starring in his own original play, All New People. He also starred in Paul Weitz’s original drama, Trust in 2010 at Second Stage Theatre in New York. Other theater credits include the 1998 Joe Papp Public Theatre staging of Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Papp’s 2002 New York Shakespeare Festival production (at Central Park’s Delacorte Theatre) of Twelfth Night.
Prior to earning his film degree from Northwestern University, Braff made his big-screen acting debut in Woody Allen’s 1993 comedy, Manhattan Murder Mystery, as Allen and Diane Keaton’s son. Additional film acting credits include The Broken Hearts Club, The Last Kiss, The High Cost of Living, The Ex and Getting to Know You. He voiced the title character of Disney’s 2005 animated hit, Chicken Little and appeared alongside James Franco in the 2013 Walt Disney Pictures fantasy adventure Oz: The Great and Powerful, directed by Sam Raimi.
Braff earned his pilot license in 2008 and currently lives in New York and Los Angeles.