The Dawson's Creek alum stars in ABC's new comedy as a fictionalized version of himself who is BFFs with New Yorker Chloe (Krysten Ritter), the crazy roommate of wide-eyed new gal June (Dreama Walker). This James will join a slew of celebrities competing on Dancing with the Stars, TVGuide.com has learned exclusively.
We hit the set to see The Beek strut his stuff — he actually has moves! — and to get the scoop on how the Dancing story line came to be. Plus: Which real-life celeb will partner with one of the actual Dancing pros as Van Der Beek's competition?
How did the Dancing with the Stars storyline come to fruition?
James Van Der Beek: It was an idea that I had. I had been offered [to be on Dancing] a couple times. I always thought it would be kind of fun, but would never do it, but that doesn't mean the Apartment 23 me can't do it! [Laughs] I pitched the story line to [Apartment 23 executive producer] Nahnatchka Khan where I would go on Dancing with the Stars. There's a big joke that I planned out and the only way for it to be funny is if I was a phenomenal dancer.
Lois & Clark's Dean Cain will guest-star as James' nemesis and competition on Dancing with the Stars with real-life pro Karina Smirnoff. How was it creating this rivalry with him?
Van Der Beek: It's great. Dean's a great sport; he totally gets it. He has great comic timing actually. It's kind of like a brotherhood of people who went through a show where the character's name is in the title. You look at each other, nod and go, "I understand." [Laughs] It was great to have Karina because it felt authentic. I did [ask for tips].
What kind of competitor is James on Dancing?
Van Der Beek: This guy is completely blind. He's so narcissistic to the point where he doesn't even realize there are other people in the universe sometimes. This is our way of skewering this kind of actor and pop culture in general. So when he joins Dancing with the Stars, he's convinced this is the be-all, end-all. Everything he does, he does with 100 percent commitment, which is one thing we share. When he first gets his partner, it's not the partner that's going to allow him to win. He just goes into complete panic mode and will stop at nothing until he gets the right partner.
Were you, yourself, nervous about doing the dancing routines?
Van Der Beek: I grew up playing sports, so it took me like four months to train for that one little scene. I went in thinking I've always wanted to learn how to dance. I'm a pretty good athlete; I could figure this out. After about three or four dance classes, I thought I was looking good, so we recorded it on an iPhone. I watched it and I was absolutely mortified. I look like a jock trying to fumble his way through it. It was horrible. I realized I really had to step it up so many more hours of training followed until I got to the point where it was good enough for the jokes to work. It did not come easily.
What do you think of Van Der Beek joining Dancing on Apartment 23?
ABC is expected to announce an airdate for Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23 soon.