Zach Braff is probably one of the hardest-working men in Hollywood. After graduating from Northwestern University in 1997, he relocated to Los Angeles, where, following a brief stint as a waiter at The Olive Garden, landed his breakthrough role as Doctor John Dorion in the hit sitcom Scrubs. The ensemble cast, featuring Donald Faison, Sarah Chalke, Judy Reyes, Neil Finn and John C. McGinley, had no idea if the show would run beyond its initial season. In the end, Scrubs ran for nine, quickly becoming one of the most beloved television comedies of all time
While working on the show, Braff was given the opportunity to sit in the director’s chair, leading the charge on special episodes that are today regarded as some of the most brilliant in Scrubs history. At the same time, Braff was writing, directing and producing his debut feature Garden State, which was followed by his 2014 film Wish You Were Here and his 2019 remake of Martin Brest’s 1979 comedy Going In Style, which featured a stellar cast composed of Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin.
Oddball in energy and masterful in delivery, Braff’s films exude a playfulness and idiosyncrasy that is utterly infectious. It’s no wonder, then, that the director, actor and producer is a fan of fellow outsider voice cum cultural mainstay Wes Anderson. Speaking to Criterion, Zach Braff listed ten of his favourite films of all time, one of which was Anderson’s 1998 movie Rushmore. “This is my favourite Wes Anderson movie,” Braff began. “He is obviously such an incredible visualist, and there was something about Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) that I really related to—I always felt like an outcast, but I had a ton of ambition. It’s quite a feat to make something so visually arresting while also making you laugh and breaking your heart.”
Braff and Anderson could almost be filmic siblings. While the latter is perhaps a little more wayward in his emphasis on elaborate and whimsical cinematography, they both rely on quirky symmetrical shots, stationary cameras rolling around expansive sets and other faintly surreal techniques. They also share a taste for deadpan humour, melancholic outsider characters and artfully-curated soundtracks. Indeed, in 2005, Braff’s Garden State mixtape won a Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture. All of this makes me wonder if we’re due a Zach Braff-Wed Anderson collaboration. It would certainly make the world a better place. Alas, one can only dream.