James Van Der Beek is getting good at playing James Van Der Beek.
After spending a few years out of the limelight (and debatably in the "has-been" category), the Dawson's Creek star began his comeback in 2011 by capitalizing on his character's signature ugly cry. A year later, Van Der Beek is back at it, playing a smarmy yet extremely charming caricature of himself on ABC's Don't Trust the B---- in Apt 23.
At the center of the show are polar-opposite roommates Chloe and June (Dreama Walker). "Chloe is a force of nature," the actor says. "Half the time she's saying things everyone is thinking or afraid to say and then half the time she's saying things that would never occur to a sane human being."
Van Der Beek plays Chloe's ex and best friend who has a penchant for using Dawson's nostalgia to get girls in his pants. But the real Van Der Beek swears he never used such tactics. "If somebody ever called me Dawson, it would've been a deal-breaker," he says. (He's now happily married with two kids.)
While it seems that viewers haven't seen a whole lot of The Beek on-screen since his WB days, he surprisingly has a pretty wide-ranging resume — just don't name his projects in reference to his Dawson's days. "I stopped framing my life in terms of Dawson [roles] or anti-Dawson [roles]," he says.
Here's a timeline of how Van Der Beek went from wide-eyed wannabe filmmaker Dawson Leery to playing himself on prime-time television.
Dawson's Creek (January 1998): Van Der Beek shot to teen idol fame as the earnest, Spielberg-worshipping, ugly-crying romantic who does not get the girl in the end.
The Rules of Attraction (October 2002): An adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis' novel, the movie featured Van Der Beek as Sean Bateman, a drug-crazed college student who fails twice at committing suicide.
Criminal Minds (February 2007): In his two-episode arc, Van Der Beek played psycho serial killer Tobias Hankel, who kidnapped and tortured Reid. He was the first of the show's unsubs to terrorize a member of the BAU.
One Tree Hill (November 2008): Van Der Beek guest-starred as the obnoxious and narcissistic film director of Lucas' book adaptation. (What would Dawson think?)
Mercy (January 2010): The short-lived NBC medical show featured Van Der Beek in a recurring role as a womanizing doctor.
Funny or Die's "Van Der Week" (January 2011): Piggybacking on the popularity of "Sad Dawson," Van Der Beek teamed with Funny or Die to show the Internet that he has so many more emotions to give, including the "Lilo eye roll" (for all Lindsay Lohan-related news) and the "10 year anniversary crying edition." He followed up with more Dawson mockery in "Asshole for Hire" and "DILF Khakis."
Vandermemes (January 2011): Because a two-minute video cannot feature every Van Der Feeling, the actor and Funny or Die created a website to document all his emotional memes.
New Now Next Awards (April 2011): Van Der Beek hosted the Logo awards show, reaffirming his return to the pop-culture consciousness.
Don't Trust the B---- in Apt 23 (April 2012): Now 35, Van Der Beek returns to television playing a heightened version of himself on the new ABC comedy.
Watch the first episode Don't Trust the B---- here or watch a clip below:
Don't Trust the B---- in Apt 23 premieres on Wednesday at 9:30/8:30c on ABC.