Q&A with Zach Braff
Students packed Pick-Staiger auditorium to hear Northwestern alum Zach Braff’s wise words on everything from his favorite animal to his upcoming projects. Before the show, Braff sat down with schmooze to talk about the man behind the comedian.
schmooze: What’s your Jewish mom like?
Zach Braff: Well, my mom converted–she was Protestant–so she doesn’t have any of the stereotypical attributes of a Jewish mother. But she’s amazing. I got all the benefits of having an amazing Jewish mom without having any of the annoying things. I’m a total momma’s boy.
schmooze: Where did you live on campus as a freshman?
ZB: I lived in Bobb-McCulloch, which was pretty gross. It was a little too raucus and tiny. I can’t believe that I lived in a room that small. It’s amazing what kids who have to live in a dorm deal with when you look at having to put your entire life on one side of a tiny room.
schmooze: What was Jewish life like at Northwestern for you? Did you participate in Hillel?
ZB: I didn’t participate in Hillel really. I had a lot of Jewish friends because there were a bunch of Jewish guys in the fraternity [Phi Psi], but I don’t really remember doing anything Jewish, to be honest. I went to a break-fast once, my freshman year, but I hadn’t fasted (laughs). It was good food.
schmooze: How do you think Northwestern influenced your life?
ZB: Well I think it influenced my life path because I learned a lot about theater and film there. I got a lot of exposure to Shakespeare when I was at Northwestern and my first jobs in New York as an actor were in productions of Shakespeare’s plays. I couldn’t read a single line from Shakespeare before I went to Northwestern.
schmooze: How do you think being Jewish has affected your career?
ZB: Well the way I connect to being Jewish most is really in the sense of humor. My father is very funny and definitely takes his cue from Jewish humor. And so the whole idea that in the face of sadness and tragedy finding a way to laugh and make it light is something that I really respond to and try and do in my own life. But in terms of practicing and going to temple every week, that’s never really been me. I also don’t like strapping those boxes to my arms and head. It’s a little to weird for me. My God is okay with me not strapping those things to my head.
schmooze: How do you incorporate Jewish ideas into your work?
ZB: Well I think that I feel most comfortable when playing a Jewish guy. Scrubs needs to appeal to the most massive audience possible and so it’s implied that I’m Christian because unfortunately, in this country, there would actually be people who wouldn’t watch it (laughs). I feel most at home when I’m playing a Jewish character.
schmooze: Who would you most like to work with in Hollywood in the future?
ZB: Woody Allen, he’s someone I worked with just briefly as a kid in one of his movies, but I’d really love a chance to work with him on a larger scale.