Ask any Scrubs fan what their favorite episode of Scrubs is, and they will invariably tell you that it is the 14th episode of season three, an episode called “My Screw-Up.” That is the episode where Dr. Cox thinks he is at his son’s first birthday party, but in the end, there’s a Sixth Sense twist, and both the audience and Dr. Cox simultaneously realize that we are at the funeral of Ben Sullivan, Dr. Cox’s brother-in-law and best friend, played by Brendan Fraser. It is a gut punch of an episode, the top-ranked episode in even our own ranking of the all-time best Scrubs episodes. It is also the episode that launched the career of musician Joshua Radin, whose song, “Winter,” played during the reveal in that episode. It was how the rest of the world discovered Radin.
In fact, Brendan Fraser appeared in three episodes of Scrubs and all three — out of 182 episodes, in total — appeared in the top 15. That’s how well regarded Brendan Fraser was on the series, which had a lot of great guest stars over the years: Heather Graham, Scott Foley, Markie Post, John Ritter, Tom Cavanagh, Michael J. Fox, Mandy Moore, Matthew Perry, and even Ryan Reynolds. Brendan Fraser, however, was the only actor to appear on Scrubs during the time in which he was also a big movie star. Fraser’s three episodes of Scrubs, in fact, coincided with the peak of his career, during his run of The Mummy movies.
Given Fraser’s popularity during a time in which movie stars did not often appear on television — much less as guest stars on sitcoms — why would he take a role on Scrubs, in its freshman season, no less? Is it because he’s just a really nice guy? That is certainly part of it, but Bill Lawrence — the creator of Scrubs — also managed to convince Fraser with a personal touch.
As Fraser tells it on this week’s episode of the Scrubs rewatch podcast, Fake Doctors, Real Friends, Bill Lawrence got is foot in the door with Fraser, so to speak, because Lawrence’s wife (and Scrubs cast member), Christa Miller, was friends with Fraser’s then wife, Afton Smith. Fraser, however, had never met Lawrence.
Bill Lawrence phoned up Fraser and asked him to be on the show. Fraser replied by asking for Lawrence to send him the script. However, “I mentioned something about feeling a little tired or jet lagged and that I needed to get back to the gym,” Fraser said. And Lawrence said, “Well, alright. I’ll send the script over.”
“And when he sent the script over,” Fraser continued, “he sent a bunch of gym shorts. I mean, like, nice ones, too! So I thought, alright. I’m in! When one man sends another man gym shorts, there is no other love.”
It was those gym shorts that would entice Fraser to appear in two episodes in the opening season, and a return trip for the best episode ever of Scrubs in season three. The Polaroid cameras in Fraser’s episodes were also a little nod to Fraser, a longtime amateur photographer who even got Zach Braff into Polaroid photography. Moreover, when Fraser picks up Braff’s character, J.D., and J.D. says, “EAGLE,” it would become a running joke throughout the rest of the series. Fraser, meanwhile, would go on to become the guest actor most associated with the sitcom, and all because Bill Lawrence sent him some gym shorts!
Source: Fake Doctors, Real Friends