He’s a well-known actor, writer and director, but Zach Braff says the coolest thing about being famous is that with one little click of his mouse, he can reach a quarter-million fans, enabling him to speak directly to the people who support him.
So when the 32-year-old New Jersey native recently sat down with MTV News to discuss his new movie, the future of “Scrubs” and an upcoming children’s flick he says is like “The Goonies” directed by Terry Gilliam, we let him do most of the talking.
MTV: Let’s start off by talking about your new movie, “The Ex.”
Zach Braff: It’s about a guy who isn’t really good at anything, but has to find a way to provide for his family. His wife is a badass lawyer. She wants to stay home and take care of their kids, so he has to go out and get a job. And he gets a job working for his father-in-law. And there he meets his nemesis: the worst, evil, human being in the world, played by Jason Bateman, who would love to do anything he can to steal my wife away from me. But he’s in a wheelchair, so he does all these horrible things to me, but everyone feels sorry for him because he’s handicapped.
MTV: What was it like working with Jason?
Braff: He’s really funny, Jason. He’s very smart and very quick. Jason’s a way quicker wit than I am, like he can [he snaps his fingers] come up with a joke on the spot. And so I would just spend the time laughing, because he’s so funny and so dark. He was joking around earlier saying we should do “The Odd Couple.” I think it would be awesome.
MTV: Did you guys work together on “Arrested Development”?
Braff: I met Jason out socially. I just liked him and I just thought he was a funny guy, and then I became a really big fan of the show, like a huge fan of “Arrested Development.” I was like their number one fan. So I said to Jason — we were out at some event, and I said, “I’d love to do a cameo on your show.” I never dreamed I’d be playing a Never-Nude. That was something that came as a bonus.
MTV: What’s the future for “Scrubs”?
Braff: No one really knows. It’ll all get decided May 15th at the upfronts whether or not “Scrubs” will be back next year. I think it will. I just don’t know what network it’ll be on.
MTV: Is that something you’re determined to do — to have it come back?
Braff: I think it’s good for the fans. I mean, we all got psyched to do another year. We all sorta said that seven years would be a good number so everyone sort of had [that] in their mind. So, you know, when you set that in your head, it’s sort of like you want to meet that goal. Also, it’d be weird — this season ends with a giant cliffhanger, so it would be sort of a weird way to end the series with no resolution. So I really would like to do it. I think it would be fun — going into it knowing that it was the last year. I feel confident that it’ll happen.
MTV: If “Scrubs” doesn’t come back, “Open Hearts” would be your next project. Can you talk a little bit about how that project came about?
Braff: Well, “Open Hearts” is a drama. It was a Danish Dogme film, which means it adhered to the Dogme style of filmmaking, including being shot on video with no lighting, with just available light. And handheld. I really liked the film. But, you know, an American audience will never see a Danish Dogme film. You can actually only get the movie if you have Netflix, it’s the only place it’s available. So I adapted “Open Hearts” to be an American movie, and changed a couple little things.
It’s a movie about a car accident and how it changes the lives of the two families involved, when one of the people becomes a quadriplegic as a result of the accident. But it was very moving to me. On its surface, it was about a car accident and about the tragedy of [he snaps his fingers] your life being over like that, but also it was about so many other things — about lust and love and loneliness. And that’s why I wanted to make it.
MTV: [What about] “Andrew Henry’s Meadow”?
Braff: “Andrew Henry’s Meadow” my brother [Adam J. Braff] wrote. He and I came up with a story based on a children’s book that we both loved as kids. … It’s a big-kid’s adventure movie. We describe it as if Terry Gilliam had directed “The Goonies.” Cory Edwards, who wrote and directed “Hoodwinked!,” the animated movie, is going to direct it. It’s his first live-action movie. That’s gonna be a fun project.
MTV: You’re very open on your MySpace page, and on your Web site, as far as communicating with your fans …
Braff: I love MySpace, ’cause I think it’s really cool that someone who’s in the public eye can have a direct relationship with his fans. You know, so much crap and lies can get spread around the Internet and in the media about you. It’s awesome — you can clear anything up. So I feel really lucky, a) That I have a fanbase, ’cause I was a waiter six years ago, and b) That I have a way of talking to them. I can write an e-mail and send it to a quarter of a million people that like what I’m trying to do in my movies and in TV. That’s so cool. I love that.
MTV: Most celebrities, if they have a MySpace, it’s not run by them.
Braff: Well, I’m here to say: If you put up my name, there’s a couple of fake ones. But if you look, some will have like 60 friends, 11 friends, and then mine’s the one with a quarter of a million friends. So, yeah, I do it all. Nobody touches it but me. I write all the blogs, I write all the posts.
Check out everything we’ve got on “The Ex.”
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