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    Braff's playlist is ever-changing

    In Zach Braff's 2004 film Garden State, spirited heroine Sam (Natalie Portman) jams her headphones over the ears of morose hero Andrew (Braff). They make a connection through one of her favorite songs.


    The tune, "New Slang," is by The Shins. It's a scene that is "out-of-nowhere moving," writes critic Ed Park in The Village Voice. It cements the movie's chemistry and transports the audience, and Andrew, inside Sam's head.


    And if you'd have took to me like


    A gull takes to the wind.

    Braff selected that song. He picked all the tunes on the soundtrack to that film, which he wrote and directed. He won a Grammy for that soundtrack.


    He selects a lot of the songs used on his TV show, Scrubs. Polyphonic Spree and Colin Hay (Men at Work) have even made appearances on NBC's comedy.


    And if the character and the story in his new film, The Last Kiss, were to feel real to Braff, it had to have his personal soundtrack -- songs from his life, more important, from his personal iPod stash.


    "I was talking to a dancer recently, and she said when she hears a great song, she immediately starts choreographing it in her head," Braff says. "For me, when I hear a great song, I can't help but try to fit it to images. So I keep a tally of those songs that grab me, songs that there's something about them that feels very cinematic to me."


    So even though he wouldn't be directing Tony Goldwyn's adaptation of an Italian romance, The Last Kiss, it would still sound like Zach Braff, the sensitive young man into singer-songwriters, wistful pop and mix tapes. Your songs say a lot about you, he says, so he has to choose carefully.


    Braff is bankable enough to build The Last Kiss around. His name is being mentioned with bigger projects. And he is ready to graduate from the TV show where he got his start.


    When he was cast for Scrubs, series creator Bill Lawrence noted that Braff was an insecure 25-year-old actor playing an insecure 25-year-old doctor, which made him "perfect."


    In Garden State, made after that first blush of Scrubs success, he was an actor who got famous playing a retarded quarterback for a TV movie but a young man closer to failure than success as he comes home to bury his mother. In The Last Kiss, he has found success. Michael is an architect hitting 30, living with Miss Right (Jacinda Barrett), maybe ready to settle down.


    "He's 30, I'm 31. I've got a lot of friends that I'm buying baby carriages for. I can relate to those feelings of wanting to have a family and have kids, but not really feeling ready for that quite yet. And society saying 'This is the time when that's supposed to happen, pal.' "


    So he agreed to play the role. And he hunted up tunes that he sent to director Tony Goldwyn, songs by Coldplay, Snow Patrol and Aimee Mann. Songs that capture what the movie's about, such as Mann's "Today's the Day."


    Better pack your bags and run


    Or stay until the job is done.


    Gossips had Braff and then-girlfriend Mandy Moore picking out rings and registering earlier this year. But that didn't work out, leading to speculation that the younger woman (she's 22) wasn't as ready to settle down as Mr. Just-Passed-30. He's a gentleman and won't discuss that.


    The Last Kiss is about a guy who gets cold feet when he sees the rest of his life laid out before him. Maybe the subject hits close to home for Braff. He can certainly relate to its message, that what used to be called "growing up" is the new midlife crisis.


    "All those things that happen in your 30s now, used to happen younger," Braff says. "My parents got married in their early 20s. So maybe it's not that we're having our midlife crises earlier, we're having our growing-up crises later.


    "I had the best party ever for my 30th birthday. But everybody, guys and girls, can relate to being 30 and not being positive that they're ready to settle down.


    "Michael's just a little freaked out by the realization that he may not be ready to kiss the last girl he's ever gonna kiss. I think that's a real thing that crosses people's minds."


    What's crossing Braff's mind at 31 is that he has probably outgrown "the best grad school a boy could have," Scrubs. He'll be leaving "the show that I owe everything to, the place I got my big break," at the end of this, its sixth season; it starts showing up in syndicated reruns next week (on Orlando's WRDQ-Channel 27, 8 p.m. weekdays, beginning Monday).


    By the end of his Scrubs run, he'll have decided if he wants to do a prequel to those Chevy Chase Fletch movies (based on Gregory Mcdonald's novels), a movie set up by Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence.


    And he'll be able to direct an adaptation of a Danish drama titled Open Heart, about a car crash and its aftershocks.


    By the time the Scrubs season ends, Braff says, he'll be ready for that. And he'll already have a soundtrack in mind.


    Source: http://www.orlandosentinel.com

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