Childhood & Early Life
Zachary Israel Braff was born to Harold Irwin Braff, a trial attorney and sociology professor, and Anne Brodzinsky, a clinical psychologist. Joshua, his brother, is an author.
Through his mother's New England ancestors, Braff is a distant cousin of politician Mitt Romney. Since his childhood, Braff wanted to become a filmmaker.
When he was 10 years old, young Braff was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
He started acting while studying at the Stagedoor Manor, a performing arts training center for actors between 10–18 years old and over there, he won an acting award. Charles, Natalie Portman, Mandy Moore, and Joshua Radin were also fellow-students at Stagedoor at that time.
The actor attended the Northwestern University School of Communication and graduated from the institute in 1997.
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In 1989, the actor landed one of his earliest roles in ‘High’, a proposed CBS television series which was never aired. The cast included Gwyneth Paltrow and Craig Ferguson.
In 1990, he appeared in ‘The Baby-sitters Club’, in an episode titled ‘Dawn Saves the Trees’. Three years later, he played Nick Lipton in Woody Allen's ‘Manhattan Murder Mystery’, his debut film.
In 1998, in George C. Wolfe’s production of ‘Macbeth’ for New York City's Public Theater he acted alongside Alec Baldwin, Angela Bassett, and Live Schreiber. The next year, he was seen in the movie ‘Getting to Know You’.
2001 turned out to be a good year for the actor as he landed the role of John ‘J.D.’ Dorian on the medical comedy TV series ‘Scrubs’. This was his first major role in a television show. His role was nominated for three Golden Globes and an Emmy.
He returned to the Public Theater in 2002, playing a part in ‘Twelfth Night’, staged in Central Park. The same year, he was also seen in the movie, ‘It’s A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie’.
In 2004, he wrote the script for ‘Garden State’ in six months. He also directed, produced, and starred in the movie. A year later, his mix-tape for the movie’s soundtrack, won a Grammy for ‘Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media’. This movie is largely considered one of his best film roles till date.
In 2005, he was tricked into chasing a vandal on an episode of ‘Punk’d’. That year, he tried his hand at voice acting through the title character of Disney's animated film ‘Chicken Little’. He reprised the role in the video game ‘Kingdom Hearts II’.
2006 saw the release of ‘The Last Kiss’, a romantic drama, with the actor providing several tweaks to Paul Haggin’s original script to make it ‘real’ and ‘courageous’. After directing several episodes of ‘Scrubs’, he directed its one-hundredth episode, ‘My Way Home’ that year. That year, he also starred in ‘The Ex’.
Starting in 2007, he recorded voice-overs for commercials, such as a PUR water campaign, Wendy's TV commercials, Cottonelle, etc.
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2009 was a particularly busy year for the actor as he served as an executive producer for the documentary ‘Heart of Stone’, worked on the script for ‘Swingles’ and opened the restaurant ‘Mermaid Oyster Bar’. He was a cast member for 6 episodes of the Scrubs Season 9 and an executive producer for the same.
In 2010, he starred in the Canadian indie film, ‘The High Cost of Living’ alongside Quebec actress, Isabelle Blais. In mid-2010, he played the lead role in ‘Trust’, at the Second Stage Theatre, a contemporary Off-Broadway theater company.
From 2011 to 2014, he starred in the films, ‘Tar’, ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ and acted, directed and co-wrote the film ‘Wish I Was Here’. It was during this period that he starred in an episode of ‘The Exes’, a popular television show as well.
Braff first gained recognition in 2001 for his lead role as ‘Dr. John Dorian’ on the television series, ‘Scrubs’, for which he was nominated for a number of prestigious awards. His character became a cult favorite and it was through this series, that he earned his first break as a lead actor in a television series.
In 2004, the film, ‘Garden State’, his directorial debut, was produced for $2.5 million. In addition to garnering critical acclaim, it made more than $35 million at the box office and won a number of awards including a Grammy Award.
Awards & Achievements
In 2004, he won a ‘Central Ohio Film Critics Association’ award for ‘Breakthrough Film Artist’ for the movie, ‘Garden State’.
He won the Chicago Film Critics Association Award for ‘Most Promising Filmmaker’ for ‘Garden State’ in 2004.
He won the Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for ‘Breakout of the Year- Behind the Camera’ for Garden State, in 2004.
His movie ‘Garden State’ won a Grammy Award for ‘Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media’, in 2004.