ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: How a Young, Sweaty Zach Braff Got His Big Break

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04 Jun 2014

Braff with Marin Mazzie in Bullets Over Broadway.
Photo by Paul Kolnik

He told us that he was constantly driving in a van, scouting props all over New York for shoots. Often he'd tell the other PA to double park and he'd run in for an audition. It was a nightmare because his bosses would constantly ask why it took two hours to get one prop from ten minutes away and he'd never get cast in anything because he'd show up, dressed like a PA and sweating/panting. He did, however, wind up getting work doing Shakespeare at the Public Theater, working with amazing people and finally decided to move to LA to do film and TV. Though he was there for a while, he wasn't getting cast in any roles. He said so many of the sitcoms were not funny and he isn't the kind of actor who can take a mediocre script and make it work. His only income was from being waiter.

Finally, he read the script for "Scrubs" and immediately loved and understood the humor. He had numerous auditions and finally got it. Immediately, he decided to quit waitering but his father warned him that there's a big chance a pilot won't be picked up. Zach told him he had learned how to live so frugally that he'd be able to to take the salary he made for the pilot and live off of it for a year and half!

The show ran for years and in the middle of it, he wanted to write and direct a film. However, nobody in Hollywood would fund it. Finally, he was talking with a real estate guy who was going to split the budget with someone they needed to find. The guy looked closer at the numbers and told Zach that there was a lot of waste. He proposed that Zach cut a few million off the budget and he would fund the whole thing himself. That's what Zach did and that's how he made "Garden State." It got into Sundance and was the first film to be bought by two studios!

Harvey Weinstein and Sony both loved it, so one bought it domestically and one bought it for international distribution. It's a great lesson for people struggling. Nobody wanted that film but Zach persevered, got it made and it became a hit. Now he's loving doing Bullets Over Broadway but said it's the hardest thing he's ever done. Although, he did do a full musical episode of "Scrubs." Watch

Well, this Thurs at the "Chatterbox" I'll have the composing team behind A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder and you can get ye olde info at Sethtv.com. And on Tony Night, I'll be in a suit because I just got hired by "Entertainment Tonight" to do their coverage! You can watch it next Monday night. Until then, peace out!

(Seth Rudetsky is the afternoon Broadway host on SiriusXM. He has played piano for over 15 Broadway shows, was Grammy-nominated for his concert CD of Hair and Emmy-nominated for being a comedy writer on "The Rosie O'Donnell Show." He has written two novels, "Broadway Nights" and "My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan," which are also available at Audible.com. He recently launched SethTV.com, where you can contact him and view all of his videos and his sassy new reality show.)

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