From troubled boy to jealous husband, Zach Braff is set to appear in The Weinstein Company’s “The Ex.” On Thursday, May 3rd, Braff was hosted in a college conference call on behalf of the release of his new film.’ The film also stars Braff, Amanda Peet (“Something’s Got to Give,” “A Lot Like Love”), and Jason Bateman (“Arrested Development,” ‘Smokin’ Aces’). The actor entered the call with his very comical, easy-going voice prompting reporters for their much-awaited questions.
Braff, who plays Peet’s husband in “The Ex,” told reporters that from his initial reading of the script he knew he wanted to do the film, “I was laughing out loud when I was reading it, so rare when you find a script that you don’t need to alter anything,” he said. The film is unlike previous Braff vehicles “Garden State” and “The Last Kiss,” and is meant to appeal to fans of Braff’s TV show. “This is the first broad comedy/movie I’ve done, total, broad, physical comedy,” he says. “Totally for the Scrubs audience.”
This is the first film Braff has done with Peet and Bateman. “Amanda is a sweetheart,” Braff says of his co-star. “She’s so nice and beautiful, and it’s kinda hard to pretend you love the person, it was so easy with her, we clicked, we had good chemistry, she’s a sweetheart.” It seems that working on the set of ‘The Ex’ was more fun than actual work. Braff and Bateman, although arch rivals in the film, were more like a couple of pranksters on set. “He’s one of those people that would be making fun of you and you’ll be cracking up, he’s so friggin’ funny,” Braff says. “I become the giggling school-girl, I just stand there and he makes me laugh.”
When asked what it was like to prepare for the role, Braff says, “I’m not one of those people who studied how it would be to have a baby. I studied the script to see how I can make it funnier. I had to learn how to hold a baby, someone had to explain to me the fact that their necks aren’t strong enough.”
Braff who made his acting and directorial debut in his 2004 film “Garden State,” opposite Natalie Portman, grew up in the suburbs of New Jersey, and from a young age was very much into the arts. “My dad would have ‘Annie Hall’ dinner parties and project them on the wall. Even at a young age I have memories of my dad celebrating the art of movies and filmmaking.” Braff, who would commute to Manhattan to watch films that weren’t released in the ‘burbs, said the arts was something, “ingrained in my childhood, this appreciation for the arts, particularly the performing arts.”
With Braff growing up in a family who were avid fans of Woody Allen’s work, it came as a shock when Braff snagged a part in Allen’s film, ‘Manhattan Murder Mystery.’ “For the 45 seconds I was seen in the film, I was really terrified. Woody is a big hero of mine.”
Braff went on to attend Northwestern University where he studied Film and Theater. When asked what his advice to aspiring film students is, he simply says, “Make films!” “It’s so easy nowadays,” he adds. “You have no excuse, make short films, really put time into them, don’t make crap, keep them short under 10 minutes, come up with something you feel best represents you.”
Although starting out in Hollywood as a director/actor, Braff had to take a back seat to directing in ‘The Ex.’ “Once you do it and it goes well it’s hard to go back,” he says. “As a film director you have strong opinions about things. Part of being a filmmaker is being decisive. Jesse was a great director, he had to match a lot of types of personalities.”
On plans for the future, Braff wants to direct a “dark drama.” “You always wanna do something different, ’cause if you keep doing the same thing over and over it gets boring,” he says. “I don’t think I’d write a broad comedy, it doesn’t come naturally to me, but I’d direct them and maybe act in a couple too.” Braff will be getting back into the directing gig in a film set to release in 2008, “Open Hearts.”
“The Ex” opens in DC on May 11th.