James Van Der Beek Gears Up for an Anti-Dawson Comeback

In the eight years since Dawson's Creek ended, most of its original stars have moved on to wider fame. Michelle Williams (Jen) is a bonafide box-office star and current Oscar nominee. Katie Holmes (Joey), who's now the fashion-forward wife of Tom Cruise and mother of Suri, doesn't even need movie projects to land magazine covers. Joshua Jackson (Pacey) is starring in his third season of Fox's Fringe.

Only James Van Der Beek, who played Dawson, seems to have struggled with reinventing himself as an adult actor. That is, until last fall, when he made a series of online shorts for Funny or Die. Appearing as himself, he lampooned the very character he can't seem to shake. By taking sarcastic, sometimes prurient jabs at his sensitive image, he was finally able to shed it. Proof that it worked comes in the recent news that he'll be playing a heightened version of himself in the pilot for an edgy ABC sitcom, Don't Trust the B*** in Apt. 23. The plot, in a nutshell: A nice midwestern girl (Dreama Walker) moves in with a party girl roommate, whose best friend happens to be James Van Der Beek.

So Van Der Beek will be playing Van Der Beek. (Sounds odd, though it isn't so unusual: Matt Le Blanc is currently playing a version of himself on Showtime's Episodes.) What will this character be like? It's a safe bet that he'll resemble the Van Der Beek of the Funny or Die videos -- and not the one who played sweet, sappy Dawson Leery.

If things work out, and the show takes off, Van Der Beek might just end up with the most unique post-Dawson's career of all. He'll never have Tom Cruise, though. In that respect, Katie's still on top.

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