Zach Braff on His Polarizing Work and “Scrub” Status in the Industry: “I don’t need to get 200 million people to see what I’m doing”
Zach Braff has gone from a fan favorite actor on the cult TV series Scrubs to indie filmmaker and Broadway star in only a few short years. While Braff has gained thousands of fans in the meantime, he also remains a target of ridicule for using Kickstarter to partially fund his most recent movie, Wish I Was Here. He spoke about the controversy and criticism of his work for being over-sentimental to the Los Angeles Times.
Braff admits that before he was cast in Scrubs at the age of 26 he nearly gave up on acting. He confesses, “I was really close to giving up. I was waiting tables at Le Colonial at Beverly and Robertson in a tunic at this French Vietnamese restaurant. I had a movie called Broken Hearts Club at the Sunset 5 up the street. People would say, ‘We just saw your movie.’ And I’d say, ‘Oh thank you. Let me tell you about our specials.'”
While Braff has become successful, his personal projects have polarized audiences. For example, his feature directorial debut, Garden State, was financially successful and became a cult favorite, but has been criticized for its simplistic characterization (Wish I Was Here has faced similar criticisms from moviegoers and critics). Braff is not unaware of the criticism, and responds by saying, “Listen, I know at this point what I do is polarizing. I think people like me or they don’t. I’m a very sensitive person. I write things that are, yes, very sentimental and my humor is broad at times, but that’s taste. It’s no different than when a guy pulls up next to me at a light and he’s blasting house music that he loves so much and I have to close my window because I think, ‘This is horrible.'”
He shrugs off others’ negative opinions by saying that those who don’t like his movies just aren’t into his type of storytelling. He explains, “We’re living in a very cynical world. I love to cry in a movie. I love the feeling I have when tears are streaming down my face and I’ve just laughed. That’s my favorite experience. If it’s not someone else’s that’s fine; go watch something else. There’s plenty of fare.”
Braff also received a heap of criticism from some for using Kickstarter to raise money to make Wish I Was Here. Though he doesn’t plan on using Kickstarter again, he hopes that he can continue to have a fanbase that will support his work. He says, “I’m trying to create a model that, if I can continue to take care of a loyal fan base that supports me, I can continue making things, whether it’s movies or plays or TV. I don’t need to get 200 million people to see what I’m doing. I don’t need to be Vin Diesel. I’m just happy being the scrub.”