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Why Freck From Obi-Wan Kenobi Sounds So Familiar

The third episode of the record-smashing "Obi-Wan Kenobi" is officially available to stream on Disney+ and, if you listen carefully during one particular moment of the episode, there's a character who may sound weirdly familiar. Dubbed Freck, the mole-like transport driver (and keen Empire supporter) makes his debut about 15 minutes into "Part III." At this point in the episode, he picks up Ewan McGregor's titular Jedi hero and Vivien Lyra Blair's Leia, giving them passage to a port on the mining planet of Mapuzo. While the voice of Freck may not immediately register with viewers at first, once you see the actor's name in the credits, it's easy to put two and two together.

The longtime Hollywood A-lister has been in countless television shows and movies over the years and now joins a legendary list of celebrities who have made "Star Wars" cameos at some point throughout the franchise. This includes appearances from Daniel Craig and Jason Sudeikis as stormtroopers, "Shaun of the Dead" star Simon Pegg as the junk boss Unkar Plutt in "Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens" (via IMDb), and John Leguizamo as "The Mandalorian" cyclops Gor Karesh. As for this famous "Star Wars" newcomer, it's definitely someone you've seen and heard before. 

Braff was part of a Star Wars-themed Scrubs episode

That's right, "Star Wars" fans. Television and movie veteran Zach Braff is the actor playing Freck on "Part III" of "Obi-Wan Kenobi" (via Decider). If you're a diehard fan of Braff and "Scrubs," his "Obi-Wan Kenobi" cameo should come as no surprise.  

Back in 2001, the NBC comedy aired a special "Star Wars"-centric episode titled "My Two Dads" that features multiple references to and parodies of George Lucas' space opera. In one memorable scene (via YouTube), a fantasy plays out where the cast members are cosplaying as "Star Wars" characters, with Braff's J.D. portraying Luke Skywalker, John C. McGinley's Dr. Cox as Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Ken Jenkins' Dr. Kelso as Darth Vader. 

Over the years, Braff has been very vocal about the "Star Wars" universe and projects related to it. His "Scrubs" co-star Donald Faison is apparently a huge fan of the franchise, something the Freck actor has written about on social media. "Happy Bday to my life partner, @donald_faison," Braff tweeted in June 2014. "Here he is lighting a menorah in a 'Star Wars' t-shirt." 

Braff made his animated feature debut with 2005's Chicken Little

The 2005 film "Chicken Little" may have missed the mark with viewers and critics (via Rotten Tomatoes), but that doesn't mean it wasn't a great life experience for Zach Braff, who plays the titular animated young chicken who believes the sky is falling. As it turns out, he's right and must do whatever he can to warn everyone that not only is the sky falling, but an alien invasion is literally looming overhead.

Braff always wanted to be in an animated film, and with this second voice role (his first credited role is in the 2002 animated show "Clone High," per IMDb), he got to do just that. "I put it out to the world that I was interested in doing an animated movie. When this one came up, it was a pretty big one, so a lot of people auditioned, but it was something I campaigned for; I wanted to," explained Braff in a 2005 interview with MovieWeb. He recalled how being in a Disney animated film was something he always thought would be fun as well as meaningful, telling the outlet, "I thought it would be really cool to be part of the 70 years of the Disney lineage, just to be one of their characters."

As with Freck in Disney's "Obi-Wan Kenobi," Braff's voice portrayal of Chicken Little is ultimately one that sounds very different from his regular voice but also weirdly similar. He told MovieWeb, "I didn't want to do my voice, I wanted to do something charactery," and revealed how, through trial and error (and with the benefit of sketches), he found his Chicken Little voice. Braff also played Chicken Little in the video game "Kingdom Hearts II," according to his IMDb profile.

Braff voices a flying monkey in Oz the Great and Powerful

While not as over-the-top as Chicken Little, Zach Braff's voice work in "Oz the Great and Powerful" as Finley the flying monkey is also a departure from how we typically hear Braff speak in live-action projects. In the 2013 Disney feature, Braff's voice is unencumbered by affect, allowing him to be instantly recognizable to viewers as he trots down the yellow brick road alongside James Franco's Oz. In addition to Finley, Braff also plays an assistant to Oz during the Kansas segments of the film. "I love being a part of history with a movie like this," he told Canada's York Region News in 2013. "I watched these movies as a kid, so when they asked me to be part of this one, and I found out it would be part live-action, part animation, I jumped at the chance."

Braff told The Hollywood Reporter in 2013 that instead of just voicing the Finley parts from a sound booth, he actually acted out his scenes on set. "[Director Sam Raimi] really wanted me there," he said. "He didn't just want to capture the voice. He wanted me to fully act this 36-inch tall monkey out." Some of the ways they'd have Braff do his scenes included him hunching over and wearing a bluescreen onesie. "We figured out that if I was on my butt, hunched over, I was 36 inches tall," Braff said. "And then other times, there was an actual life-size puppet of him that I would operate around and act out." 

Braff did voice-over work on Community in 2014

Zach Braff's cameo on NBC's "Community" is one that a lot of viewers may have missed — including Braff. "I did do a voice-over on 'Community,'" the actor tweeted in November 2020. "To this day, I have never seen it."

The Braff voice-over comes towards the end of the Season 5 episode "Repilot" and features him as J.D., his "Scrubs" character. Viewers are shown a shot of the "Community" cast working on something in class while Braff's J.D. delivers one of his famous inner monologues. The scene (via Twitter) then cuts to the characters watching an episode of "Scrubs," including said monologue. "Little victories count for a lot around here," J.D. says, adding before the cutaway, "Even if you never asked to win in the first place." At this, Danny Pudi's Abed Nadir concludes, "See, he does a voice-over wrap-up at the end of every episode."

Braff voices himself on two episodes of Netflix's BoJack Horseman

First appearing in the episode "Underground" from Season 4, Zach Braff takes on the role of himself on Netflix's "BoJack Horseman." He's not around for long; Jessica Biel (also playing herself) sets him on fire and kills him off. However, the fictional version of Braff was eventually brought back by the writers in the 2020 episode "The View From Halfway Down," which features a number of dead characters making their returns during a dream-like dinner. 

"[Braff] was real confused," said showrunner and series creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg in a February 2020 interview with Vulture while explaining the actor's return to the show in Season 6. "He came in, and he's like, 'I'm dead, right? What's happening? I thought I died on this show, but you want me back? Great!' He was delightful and thrilled to be there and so funny. 'Why am I a butler?' I don't know, because it's a dream! 'Is it a dream, or is it purgatory?' It doesn't matter. You're a butler, and you're on roller skates."

Braff has always seemed to bring in the perfect amount of creativity and Braff-ness to the voice roles he's playing, even if it's something as simple and plain as a voice-over gig. While his voice work has slowed in recent years, his appearance on Disney's "Obi-Wan Kenobi" is at least a sign that the longtime Hollywood star has still got it.