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 and stage productions.
One of the New Jersey native's most notable characters is that of Dr. John "J.D." Dorian on the beloved television series Scrubs. During the half-hour comedy's nine-year run, Braff earned a Primetime Emmy® and three consecutive Golden Globe nominations (2005-07) for his starring role. Scrubs also received numerous Emmy nominations for Best Comedy Series and Best Comedy Writing.
In addition to directing seven episodes of Scrubs (including the show's landmark 100th episode), 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. Braff shot the coming-of-age film in his home state for a budget of $2.5 million, resulting in a $5 million unprecedented sale to two studios, Fox Searchlight and Miramax, during its premiere at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival.
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. Braff won an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature and was nominated for Best First Screenplay. He also earned a Writers Guild nomination for Best Original Screenplay and picked up a Best Director honor from the National Board of Review (plus a second special recognition prize). The movie's breakthrough soundtrack sold more than 1 million copies and earned Braff a Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album. Other Garden State honors for Braff include Breakthrough Director from the Hollywood Film Festival, a Most Promising Filmmaker Award from the Chicago Film Critics Association and a Grand Prize Jury nomination at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival.
Braff made history in spring 2013 when he funded his second feature film, Wish I Was Here, via an online crowd-funding campaign on Kickstarter. The project surpassed its $2 million goal in four days and ultimately collected a total of $3.1 million from 46,520 individual backers. Braff's success helped launch crowd-sourcing as a viable model for financing films. Co-written with his brother, Adam, Wish I Was Here began production immediately following the Kickstarter campaign and was shot on location in Los Angeles. The film was released theatrically in 2014.
Braff directed a remake of the hit 1979 Martin Brest caper comedy, Going in Style, for Warner Bros. Studios, which opened last April. Academy Award® winners Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin assumed the roles originally played by George Burns, Lee Strasberg and Art Carney. Braff's version of the film centered on three retired men who lose their pensions when the company they've worked for their entire lives is sold to a foreign corporation. Desperate for money to survive, they set out to try to rob the very bank that's withholding their money.
Braff made his Broadway debut in 2014 as lead character David Shayne in Bullets Over Broadway, written by Woody Allen, directed by Susan Stroman and performed at the St. James Theatre. The musical stage production is based on the screenplay of Allen's 1994 comedic film. Set in 1920s New York, Braff played a struggling playwright so desperate to get his latest drama produced that he casts a rich mobster's talentless girlfriend in exchange for financing.
Braff's theater career has developed significantly in recent years. In 2012, he made his West End debut starring in his own original play, All New People. The play was previously staged at Second Stage Theatre in New York in 2011, where Braff previously starred in Paul Weitz's original drama Trust in 2010. 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. Following college, he worked briefly at the renowned Public Theatre in New York before relocating to Los Angeles. Braff's additional film acting credits include Greg Berlanti's poignant comedy The Broken Hearts Club; Tony Goldwyn's romantic comedy The Last Kiss; drama The High Cost of Living; romantic comedy The Ex, starring opposite Amanda Peet and Jason Bateman; drama Getting to Know You, adapted from works by Joyce Carol Oates; and he voiced the title character of Disney's 2005 animated hit Chicken Little. Braff also appeared alongside James Franco in the 2013 Disney fantasy adventure Oz: The Great and Powerful, directed by Sam Raimi.
In 2008, Braff earned his pilot's license. He currently lives in New York and Los Angeles.