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Chick trick; His name is Chicken Little, he's about to save the world ... and Zach Braff is delighted to be the man to help him do it.

Byline: By EILEEN CONDON

THERE aren't many Hollywood actors who you could call "Chicken" to their face, and certainly none who'd take it as a compliment -apart from Zach Braff that is.

The rising young star voices the character of Chicken Little in the animated Disney movie of the same name, and says he couldn't be more thrilled with his new alter ego.

"It's an honour," he says with his boyish grin. "The world has grown up on Disney animation.

"I thought I was going to be one of the characters in the background saying, 'See you at the game, Chicken Little'. I didn't know I would get Chicken Little himself."

Zach is probably best known over here for his role as JD in the offbeat hospital comedy Scrubs, and last year's acclaimed movie drama Garden State, which he also wrote and directed. But despite being one of Hollywood's hottest new talents he says Chicken Little didn't just fall out of the sky into his lap.

"This was such a big project for Disney that people auditioned and that included me," he says. "I had to audition with the rest of them and I campaigned to get it." The film is an update of the classic children's fable about a chicken who causes havoc in his home town when he proclaims the sky is falling in after an acorn drops on his head.

The movie version sees the unfortunate bird one year on, desperately trying to restore his reputation by joining the local baseball team.

"One of the things that's really fun about the movie is that it's about this little guy saving the world," says Zach. "He's this little outcast who everyone thinks is crazy.

"You know the movie's good when you're an adult and you're on the edge of your seat rooting for a little chicken to make it around the bases of a baseball field."

In fact Zach became something of a mother hen about how Chicken Little should be portrayed.

"I thought very carefully about how to do the voice," he says. "I thought of what a little boy would sound like. He's such a goofball. He needs to be endearing, but not to get grating, so the trick was to find some sort of voice that made him endearing and sweet."

With such attention to detail, it's hardly surprising 30-year-old Zach has become one of the most critically lauded stars around. His antics on Scrubs have helped make him a household name while Garden State marked an impressive directorial debut.

Yet the New Jersey-born star says he wasn't exactly brimming with confidence about his future as an actor.

"When I started Scrubs I'd just quit one job waiting tables," he says. "So, I was just happy that from the money I was going to make from the pilot I wouldn't have to wait tables at least for a couple of months.

"But the show found a really core loyal audience. It moves fast. It's a little bit of a puzzle and, I like to think, smart. I love it. It makes me laugh. It feels like a live-action Simpsons." Though Scrubs is currently off air Zach has several new movies in the pipeline and is penning his own scripts which he hopes to direct.

"I don't want to be one of those directors who just directs because he can or someone will let him," he explains. "There's been a lot of opportunities that I've passed on because I want my next film to be as important to me as Garden State was.

"I wrote Garden State in the five months between quitting my job as a waiter and starting day one of Scrubs."

Zach has been dating Hollywood beauty Mandy Moore for the past couple of years and the besotted couple even worked together on a recent episode of Scrubs.

Following Chicken Little, Zach will next be seen in the comedy Fast Track alongside Mia Farrow, followed by Last Kiss with British actor Tom Wilkinson. And though he needn't worry about waiting tables again, the self-effacing star insists success won't change him.

"I don't feel any different," he smiles. "I feel lucky that I get to do my dreams."

The sky's clearly the limit for this Chicken Little.

profile real name Zachary Braff birthdate April 6 1975 significant other Hollywood actress Mandy Moore career high making a successful leap from small screen to big with directorial debut Garden State career low contemplating a full time career waiting tables - just before the success of Scrubs famous for scrubbing up well as wacky Dr John JD Dorian words of wisdom 'everyone has a warped vision of Hollywood - that you love cocaine and spend every night in orgies - if only it were

Chicken Little opens on Friday February 10

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Zach Braff voices chicken Little (far right)' Great expectation... saving the world isn't easy for a chicken
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Feb 4, 2006
Words:820
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