You've got to admire Zach Braff's attitude. He wasn't getting much acting work so he wrote a film, appointed himself director and gave himself the lead part. And it was brilliant.
Here, we thought we'd doff our collective cap to Braff's brilliant semi-biographical flick by finding 20 things that you, hopefully, didn't know about the film. Oh, and when you're done, have a watch of this scene. It'll never not be funny.
In this swimming pool scene (jump to one minute 20), the fog was not there for effect. The site was originally chosen because the Manhattan Skyline was clearly visible but it just happened to be incredibly foggy on the day of filming.
Largeman works in a Vietnamese restaurant which is a reference to Zach Braff's own time working in a French-Vietnamese restaurant when he was a struggling actor. In 2000, aged 25, he had a number of plays and small films under his belt but just $300 in the bank when he was waiting tables in the Beverley Hills establishment. People would come in for dinner straight from the arthouse cinema opposite. Speaking to The Independent he said: "They would [come in and] do a double take and say, 'We just saw your movie. We really liked it'. And I'd say, 'Oh, thank you. Now let me tell you about our specials...'"
The house used as Jesse's mansion is Crocker Mansion, a real mansion in Mahwah, New Jersey, which has 75 rooms. Scenes from Escape to Witch Mountain were also shot there. Here, have a guided tour.
Zach Braff originally titled the movie "Large's Ark" (see fact 16 for why) and tested the name on various messengers coming to his house during production. None liked the name. He suggested "Large" no one liked it either. "Garden State" however was well received.
Zach Braff wanted Peter Sarsgaard's character to have a tattoo. "I think he thought of him [Mark] as a little more menacing." Said Sarsgaard, in this interview. "He wanted it on my arm, and I told him that I would get a tattoo if I could have a frog or something. I didn't want to have like barbed wire on my arm, it would be too much."
Still, Sarsgaard did go somewhat above and beyond for the role, learning how to play guitar just for this part. The classical piece Mark plays in his room is "Adelita" by Francisco Tárrega.
The Garden State soundtrack exposed the music of The Shins to a much wider audience than the band had been previously exposed to, but it's not the only movie they received sountrack credits for, in 2004. They also featured in The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. Enjoy!
The music that accompanied the film was hand-picked by Braff. "Essentially, I made a mix CD with all of the music that I felt was scoring my life at the time I was writing the screenplay." He said. When Braff sent the script to people, he would also send them a copy of the songs. That is why on the actual soundtrack album, all of the songs are in the order that they appear in the movie. Braff accepted a Grammy Award in 2005 for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture
This motorcycle is a Russian/Ukrainian Dnepr. Indiana Jones drove his father around in one in The Last Crusade.
Natalie Portman was the only member of the cast to wear a safety harness on the crane in the quarry.
It took two full days for set designers to build the hamster habitat in Sam's house, while the tombstones in the pet cemetery in her yard were made by the cast and crew, and feature their own deceased pets' names. Her dead hamster, Jelly, was a real taxidermied hamster.
The Blu-ray version of the movie was released in the UK more than two years before it was released in the USA.
Peter Sarsgaard's character Mark collects Desert Storm playing cards. Sarsgaard went on to play a Marine Scout sniper in Desert Storm in Jarhead .
Let's talk money. The film was shot on a budget of $2.5million and was first screened at the Sundance Film Festival where it was bought in a joint venture by Fox Searchlight and Miramax for $5 million. The film earned about $26.7 million in North American box office, and a total $35.8 million worldwide.
At the funeral, there is a picture of Andrew's mother on display. The woman in the picture is actress Diane Salinger, who has appeared in Just 45 Minutes From Broadway (pictured) and also played The Penguin's mother in Batman Returns.
The movie has tons of animal references. When asked why, Braff said: "There’s a subtle allusion to Noah’s Ark throughout the movie and the animals were supposed to hint – along with the water that’s throughout the movie – that there’d be a coming rainstorm that was going to change the course of these people’s lives. When that actually comes in the quarry, that’s the big shift in the movie. And it happens while they’re on a rickety old boat so the animals were sort of a tip to that story."
When the movie's scouts were out looking for the Largeman family house - in the area Zach Braff grew up in - they coincidentally knocked on Braff's father’s door. Despite considering it, they didn't shoot there in the end.
Some 45 minutes of footage were left on the editing room floor.
Speaking of the scene where the dog humped Braff, Natalie Portman said: "The dog had like a two part cue for the humping. The mounting cue was “Love him up.” So the trainer goes, “Ike, love him up, love him up.” So he mounts. And then the gyration one was, “Who’s your bitch?”.
The crazy dance with bizarre noises Sam does to feel unique (see here) was actually something Zach Braff regularly did as a kid. "I would make up this elaborate thing that I was positive that no one else had ever done before, and I could feel original just for a second." He said in an interview.