For six seasons on Dawson's Creek, Katie Holmes played doe-eyed dreamer Joey Potter — and became America's sweetheart in the process. Since the teen sudser's swan song last year, the 25-year-old brunet's been focused on the big screen.

She's had her hits and misses: There's the critically acclaimed Pieces of April, the recently bombed First Daughter and the upcoming Batman Begins. Still, despite all the fame and fanfare, she considers herself that "girl next door" we all knew and loved on the Creek.

"I've been in North Carolina for six years, so I was pretty far removed from any spotlights," Holmes says. "Also, I have a very influential father who constantly reminds me how much more I could do for the world and it puts it all in perspective. Whenever he thinks that perhaps I might be getting a little excited about myself, he pulls me back. So I go about my day and don't worry."

The down-to-earth Holmes also says her Catholic education was nothing like WB's glamorous take on high school. "[My life] was one big, embarrassing moment," she laughs. "I had a really good time. In an all-girls school, the more kind of gross you can be, the cooler you are.

"If your boxers are hanging out," she says, "and your skirt is way up and just dirty, you just don't care. My friends and I are still really close, and whenever we get together on the holidays, we slip right back and talk for hours. It is a pretty great bond."

Holmes sometimes wonders if eschewing college for an acting career was the right move. "I have asked my good friends, who went off to college when I went to do Dawson's Creek, 'Did I miss a lot? I feel like I'm socially a little bit behind.' They are like, 'It wasn't your path. Get over it. You didn't miss much. I got drunk for four years.'

"They are very frank," she smirks. "In some ways, I think [college] would have been nice, but I'm thankful for the way my life turned out, so I can't really say that I regret anything. I know if I do go back [to school], it will be completely different for me, but that's okay."