​Why Zach Braff turned to Kickstarter

Zach Braff, with Pierce Gagnon, Kate Hudson and Joey King, in "Wish I Was Here."

In the hit TV show, "Scrubs, Zach Braff proved himself to be a true CROWD PLEASER. So much so that many of his fans were willing to invest money in his new film. Tracy Smith now with this Sunday Profile:

In the new musical "Bullets Over Broadway," Zach Braff is the nerdy playwright trying to get his show up and running. Trouble is, the play's financial backers are forcing him to make a few changes.

Zach Braff and Nick Cordero in "Bullets Over Broadway."
Paul Kolnik

"I'ma whore! I'm a prostitute who's selling out!" his character exclaims.

The show, based on the 1994 Woody Allen movie of the same name, is pure Broadway fantasy. But the basic story about a little guy fighting for his art is something Braff knows all too well.

A dozen years ago, Braff was a first-time director, shopping around a script he'd written for a deeply personal film called "Garden State." Everyone passed.

"Everyone in Hollywood who has a phone and a desk passed," he said.

Eventually, he got lucky, and found a businessman named Gary Gilbert willing to write him a very big check.

"And he said, 'Forget them. Is there a scenario where you make this movie for $2.5 million, and if so, I'll pay for the whole thing right now.'"

Natalie Portman and Zach Braff in "Garden State."
Fox Searchlight

And Braff's response? "Give us a moment . . . "

Braff went on to make "Garden State" exactly the way he wanted. It was a huge hit.

"My investor doubled his money overnight," Braff said. "Yeah, he made a good bet on me."

It wasn't the first time someone took a chance on Braff and won.

Born in the Garden State -- New Jersey -- in 1975, Zachary Israel Braff seemed to inherit his love of theatre from his dad, who was an attorney by day, and a sometime community theatre performer at night.

Young Zach shied away from sports, and found his true calling in theatre camp.

"It was utopia," he said.

"So you could be yourself?" Smith asked.

"I was myself, and I was the lead. I was the quarterback of the football team because I was good at it at a young age."

"That must have been an incredible feeling."

"I never wanna leave. I said to someone, it was like when they lift Baby Simba up in 'The Lion King.' I never wanted to leave. I would weep when it was time to come home. I couldn't believe that there was this place on Earth where I felt for the first time I belonged."

By his late teens Braff was an accomplished actor, and caught Woody Allen's eye for a role as his son in 1993's "Manhattan Murder Mystery."