Zach Braff, 31, recently found himself not only a TV star and a successful writer-director, but also someone who knew something about what people wanted to see. His show "Scrubs" still has a dedicated following, and his 2004 feature film "Garden State" was a bona fide hit, a critical success and a fan favorite.
Now the actor has come up with an intriguing follow-up, a remake of Gabriele Muccino’s 2001 Italian film "The Last Kiss," written by Oscar winner Paul Haggis and directed by another actor-director, Tony Goldwyn. During a recent phone conversation while stranded at LAX, Braff said he had no problem with remaking a film that Americans didn’t really see.
"I couldn’t believe that an American studio was willing to make this movie, because it’s pretty raw and pretty honest and has a flawed protagonist," he said.
The film tells the story of Michael (Braff), a young, settled thirtysomething who is about to have a baby with his longtime girlfriend (Jacinda Barrett). Just as his life begins to feel safe and constricting, he meets a young, sexy girl (Rachel Bilson) at a friend’s wedding and succumbs to a brief fling.
"I think his lust for that girl is not so much about lusting over her beauty, it’s really that she represents this freedom and all the things he remembers from being in his early 20s and lack of responsibility," Braff said. "He’s freaking out. He wants to run."
Though Braff is only working as an actor this time out, he has taken an active role in promoting the movie by shooting little "day in the life" videos and posting them at Youtube.com. In one, he and Bilson take herdog to the groomer for a bath.
"I find that fans couldn’t care less about you trying to promote your movie," said Braff, who admits being addicted to Myspace.com. "They’d rather see something personal."
After enjoying this small break, Braff is planning his next directorial project, a remake of the Danish "Dogme 95" movie "Open Hearts" (2002). Meanwhile, he has discovered another new talent: mix CDs. Since the "Garden State" soundtrack was such a success, the producers of "The Last Kiss" asked him to put together a similar one.
"I worked with Tony and gave him a bunch of mix CDs and he came up with the final soundtrack," he said. "I don’t know more about music than anyone else. I guess I make a decent mix."
It must have worked. Braff says he’s still listening to the "Last Kiss" soundtrack, which is a good sign. As for the "Garden State" soundtrack, "I can’t listen to that ever again."