‘Don’t Trust the B’ Star James Van Der Beek: I Haven’t Watched ‘Dawson’s Creek’ Since Season 4 (EXCLUSIVE)
The 35-year-old actor plays himself — or at least, a version of himself — on the new ABC comedy Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt. 23, about a girl (Dreama Walker) who heads to New York and winds up living with a roommate (Krysten Ritter) with, uh, questionable morals. (Van Der Beek is Ritter’s snarky friend on the show.)
Earlier this week, Celebuzz spoke to Van Der Beek about playing himself, his days on Dawson’s Creek and his second child, son Joshua, whom he and wife Kimberly welcomed last month.
Read the full interview below!
This show requires you to poke fun at yourself a lot; did you have an “anything goes” approach with the writers?
Yes. Absolutely. You have to. From the very beginning, I told the writers, “Don’t ever be afraid of offending me. Always go for what’s funniest. If there’s anything that really offended my sensibilities, I’ll let you know.” But so far, we haven’t found that yet. [Laughs]
Do you have any input as far as developing your character?
It’s a really collaborative process. What’s great about Nahnatchka Khan, who writes the show, is, I can pitch five ideas, and she’ll only take the two good ones. She makes me look like a genius. And I can come to her with something raw, that’s just kind of vaguely funny, and she’ll just lazer focus it in and make it brilliantly funny. I’m in really, really good hands.
But some of the stuff comes from stories I’ve told, or things that have happened to me. Some of it’s just, “Hey, wouldn’t it be funny if the fake me went on the fake Dancing With the Stars?” And so we do that. [Laughs]
Ke$ha video and the Funny or Die sketch; do you prefer doing comedy to, say, Sad Dawson?
[Laughs] You know, it definitely beats crying all day. I gotta say. I’ll balance it out this summer, I think, with some drama roles. That is what I grew up playing. Don’t ask me why, but for some reason, there’s a part of me that really loves doing the drama, as well, and the whole process of it. But I gotta say: Comedy is a lot of fun. It’s a lot of fun to laugh all day.
On Don’t Trust the B—-, you have to embrace a lot of your past; when Dawson’s Creek first ended, did you try to break away from that experience as an actor?
I think as a human being, I was just trying to find myself after that, which included stepping away from the thing that I had done for six years.
When is the last time you actually watched Dawson’s Creek?
Oh, Gosh. Season 4? [Laughs] Like, when I was there. I really didn’t watch the last two years, just because I felt it was better that way … I cared so much how fans connected to it. That was always really important to me. It felt like so much pressure to give them something worthy of their attention, and their passion and their time. And so, watching how [the episodes] turned out was just too stressful for me. So, I would just really focus and give my all in the day and then walk away. That was the healthiest thing for me to do.
Although, at one point — My wife had never seen the show, and my mom was like, “You’ve never seen an episode?” And my wife said, “No, I don’t need to watch the show.” The next thing I know, my mom comes down with a laptop with the pilot playing and puts it in front of my wife. She didn’t even ask. She just goes, “Here you go!” So, she watched the pilot, and I would kind of take a peek every once in awhile and go, “Who is that little boy?” [Laughs]
Do you remember what your wife said when she finished watching it?
Yeah. She watched it and she said, “That is not you. That is not my husband!”
When Kate Winslet was promoting Titanic 3-D, she said that hearing the song ‘My Heart Will Go On’ makes he want to throw up; what is your reaction when you hear the Dawson’s Creek theme song?
For some reason — and again, I need to get over this; I’m [a] 35-year-old, grown-ass man — but I want to hide somewhere [when I hear it]. If I’m in public and the song comes on, my first instinct is to find somewhere to hide — go in a corner, duck behind a rack, run into a dressing room, find the nearest restroom, like, just get out of there It’s a Pavlovian response, and I think it’s time for me to get over it. [Laughs] But for some reason, it just triggers inside of me. It’s a great song, but … It’s nowhere near my iPod.
No, not really. I mean, in spurts — your little two-hour stretches of sleep.
Have you noticed any differences yet between having a boy versus a girl?
They all come out with their own personalities. They come out with their own thing going on, for sure. They’re both tenacious. They’re both full of fire, thank god.
Do you think you’d let them enter show business when they grow up?
I would not push them toward it in any way shape or form. I would encourage it as a form of expression — in their school, community theater, children’s theater; I think that’s a really healthy thing for kids.
But to do it professionally? I’ve always told people who ask, “Do you have any advice if I want to get into acting?” And I’ve always said, “If you cannot imagine yourself doing anything else, then do it.” If there’s something that you’re thinking, “Maybe I might want to do that — or acting,” do that. Do the other thing. It’s just such a crazy up-and-down ride. It’s just such a bizarre business. You’re gonna have a moment where you’re gonna wonder why you’re doing it. [Laughs] So, it really has to be the only option in your heart and soul. And if that happens, then I would put my arm around him and tell him I’ll cry with him when the times comes. [Laughs]
Or you can just show him the Dawson’s Crying Face video.
[Laughs] I can just cut to the crying face. There you go.