‘Oz the Great & Powerful’ — Geek Crush Zach Braff Talks Monkey Business

Zach Braff Oz the Great and Powerful

Confession: I have a geek crush on Zach Braff. The star of the new flick Oz the Great and Powerful is what I call geek hot — he’s smart, funny, and adorable … which makes him HOT. And while I was in Los Angeles for work, interviewing the “mega” stars who made it on The Stir, I also got to spend time with my favorite Scrubs doctor.

I am sharing my interview with him here for one major reason: because I always have a fear when I’m going to meet a celebrity I really dig. I worry that they won’t live up to the image I’ve built in my head. Maybe that’s not fair, but really … who wants to be a fan of a guy who turns out to be a major dick?

Good news, y’all … Zach Braff is as funny and charming in person as you would expect him to be. In a room full of women, he didn’t even blink, and he even tweeted a photo of us hanging out with him for his gazillion fans to see.

For a hot second, I was all about the Finley (his character’s name) Flying Monkey doll I brought home for my daughter … all up until the moment the new puppy decided to destroy him.


Anyway, on with some Zach Braff:

On preparing for his role as a flying monkey:

I did actually go to the Detroit Zoo, and I stumbled across two monkeys, um, let’s just say in intimate embrace.

None of that proved useful … maybe for the sequel? I don’t know if the monkey gets a girlfriend or not.

Um, but, um, you know,  I was creating a creature from scratch, I mean, yeah, he looks like a monkey but he flies and he talks like a human. So it really wasn’t too much monkey research to be done.

On the monkey business on the set: 

You have me on record saying there was little monkey business!

On auditioning for the role:

[Director] Sam [Raimi] asked me to come in … he didn’t even want me to audition.

He just kinda wanted to talk and I went in his room and he had a really rough animatic, this pre-visualization stuff. It was that sequence where we’re running off the cliff and right before we go into the bubbles, where I jump off. And the monkey didn’t have any lines.

And he said, so here’s an example. We have this scene, but, you know, we want someone who can kinda come to the set and figure out who this guy is with me and  James [Franco]. And he showed me the animation and I was watching it, and I saw him jump off and Oz says, “What are you doing, you’re jumping off?” And I just went, “I have wings!”

Sam just started dying laughing and I was like, I guess that’s a good sign. So that’s how it started. I found out when I got home  I got the gig, ’cause I made the director laugh.

That’s what he wanted, he wanted someone that could sit there and go, oh what if I said this. And I said, Sam, I promise you this, I’m going to drive you crazy, I’m going to pitch a thousand ideas, but just take what you like and leave the rest. No hard feelings.

And there’d be plenty of times where we’d be on set and I’d be like, oh what if this da-da-da-da-da-da all excited and he’d be like, that’s hysterical, but it’s not called The Monkey. Maybe when we make the movie, The Monkey, we can do that elaborate scene you just pitched.

So maybe, who knows, the sequel.

On his stuffed monkey counterpart: 

I have a 12-year-old nephew. His sister couldn’t come out from Florida for the premiere, but he did. And I said I want you to give this — his sister is 8 — I said, I want you to give this to Ella for me because she didn’t get to come out. And he goes, yeah-yeah-yeah I’ll give it to her, and he’s sleeping on my couch.

Oz the Great and Powerful flying monkey
Finley, the Flying Monkey

I walk in to come here this morning, and he’s totally spooning it, and I’m like, there’s no way Ella is getting that stuffed animal. Actually it was funny he goes- I want you to give this to Ella, he goes, yeah-yeah-yeah we’ll share it, and I was like, no-no-no it’s for Ella!

So I told, I told my publicist, I need like a box of those things. One is not going to do!

On going from Scrubs to playing a flying monkey:

Well it helped!

You know, the, the physical comedy from Scrubs helps and also the improvisational stuff, ’cause on Scrubs what we would do is, you know, the rule was, hey, do one. Once we have one as written, you guys can play around and come up with stuff.

Really a lot of the stuff people loved came out of us improving on Scrubs. And on this movie it was so big, I was like, they’re not going to have time for any of that. But Sam really wanted that. He’s like, I want you and James to riff. I want you to find those new jokes. I was really glad that, you know, Scrubs was, you know, kind of great training ground, to be able to do this.

On finding out that a room full of mom bloggers managed to make #FlyingMonkey trend on Twitter:

You guys are such scary power … Wow, you guys- you guys can band together for good. That’s really cool. That’s a lot of power. I’m going to get on there and re-tweet it!


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Disclaimer: Disney covered my expenses to attend the red carpet premiere of Oz the Great and Powerful. I was not otherwise compensated, and all opinions and geek crushes on Zach Braff are my own … 

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