Is this really Dawson's Creek's last season? The show's two-hour premiere — in which Dawson and Joey finally made love — helped the WB win last Wednesday night among adults 18-34. Since James Van Der Beek makes no secret of his desire to bid Capeside farewell, we've gotta ask: Does he fear popular demand will compel him to play Dawson for a seventh year?

"If you're gonna wrap up the story, wrap it up," the 25-year-old actor tells TV Guide Online. "I've been told it's pretty much the last season, but nobody's announced anything officially. If they do decide to go another year, I hope they decide quickly, so that we don't wrap everything up — and then all of a sudden, we have to scratch our heads trying to figure out how to get another 23 episodes out of it.

"I've gotten everything I could possibly want out of it," Van Der Beek adds. "It's been a tremendously rewarding experience and I'm grateful for it. I would have no problem moving on, getting married [to fiancée Heather McComb] and starting the rest of my life, now that I won't have to be 3,000 miles away [from their L.A. home] for nine months out of the year.

"I would be able to live with my wife," he enthuses. "It would be nice to have my life be my own. But it's been great. I can't complain at all. If it's the last year, that would be fine." Fortunately, in The Rules of Attraction — opening Friday and based on the novel by Bret Easton Ellis — Van Der Beek proves he's talented enough to survive life post-Dawson.

Ignore those silly trailers — Rules ain't just another teen movie. Yes, you'll see 7th Heaven's Jessica Biel snorting coke, and Van Der Beek masturbating and kissing handsome newcomer Ian Somerhalder. But beyond Pulp Fiction scribe Roger Avary's titillating stunts, Van Der Beek points out, there's a raw, honest tale of "people who make wrong choices and get the full effect of their consequences."

Plus, it's just fun to see this Creeker revel in muddying his angel-boy image. "I pick my nose and spit," he laughs. "If I did this on Dawson's Creek, they'd never use it! Never. Dawson doesn't poop. Anatomically, Dawson is a Ken doll. Well, apparently not now, but for the first five years he was."