Rachel M. Johnson is a lover of all things pop culture. She's been writing about music and entertainment online for over two years.
Dawson’s Creek debuted 20 years ago, on January 20, 1998. It became a hit teen drama that catapulted its young stars to fame, and became a staple in American television. In honor of the show’s anniversary, let’s see what’s become of the stars since its end in 2003.
James Van Der Beek (Dawson Leery)
THEN: Van Der Beek starred as the titular character Dawson Leery on the hit WB series. The actor was born on March 8, 1977 and would go on to star in such films such as Varsity Blues (1999) and The Rules of Attraction (2002). At the time of his casting for Dawson's Creek, creator Kevin Williamson was impressed by the off-Broadway performer due to his "cerebral and internal quality." Other actors considered for the role of Dawson included Charlie Hunnam and Adrian Grenier.
NOW: Since the finale in 2003, Van Der Beek starred in roles on shows such as Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23, where he played a fictionalized version of himself, as well as appearances in Criminal Minds, One Tree Hill, and What Would Diplo Do? The actor is married to Kimberly Brook and the couple have four daughters and a son together.
Fun Fact: James was last to be cast on the show, and Kevin Williamson had to fight for him to earn the role. The head of Sony did not believe Van Der Beek had star quality, but a determined Williamson demanded the actor read a scene over and over again. At one point during the audition, Williamson even yelled, "I wrote Dawson! I am Dawson! This is Dawson!" Two days before production would begin, Van Der Beek was cast.
Katie Holmes (Joey Potter)
THEN: Katie Holmes played the role of the headstrong, vibrant tomboy Joey Potter. The character would go on to be involved in an ever-present love triangle between characters Dawson and Pacey. Holmes was born on December 18, 1978 and became one of the young breakout stars from the show. It is reported that the actress was offered the lead in Buffy the Vampire Slayer but declined in order to finish high school. At the time of the auditions, Holmes was participating in a school play and therefore auditioned via video tape. Selma Blair was also initially considered for the role.
NOW: Katie Holmes has had a very high profile career since her Dawson's Creek days, starring in films such as Batman Begins, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, The Giver, and Logan Lucky. Her marriage to ex-husband Tom Cruise was a hot topic in the media, and in 2006 the actress gave birth to their daughter Suri.
Fun Fact: Holmes' character Joey is the only character to appear in every episode of the show.
Joshua Jackson (Pacey Witter)
THEN: Joshua Jackson perhaps had the most acting experience when he was cast in the show. Born on June 11, 1978 he was known for his role in The Mighty Ducks series, and was at first considered for the role of Dawson Leery. However, Kevin Williamson felt that Jackson's good looks and diverse acting ability was not fit for the role of an underdog nerd, and was therefore cast as his best friend. One of Jackson's competitors for the role, was future American Pie star Jason Biggs.
NOW: Jackson has continued to find success in the acting world, with roles in films such as Shutter and One Week, as well as leads in television shows including Fringe and The Affair. He made his theatrical debut in Broadway's Children of a Lesser God earlier this year.
Fun Fact: Joshua used to moon people on the set in order to ease tension before filming scenes.
Michelle Williams (Jen Lindley)
THEN: Michelle Williams was born on September 9, 1980 and had acting experience in low-budget films and commercials before she was cast as the promiscuous New York-teen Jen Lindley. Throughout the run of Dawson's Creek, the actress also starred in films such as Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) and Dick (1999). Katherine Heigl had also auditioned for the role of Jen.
NOW: Williams has had perhaps the most success since her days on the creek, and has received an astounding four Oscar nominations. She met and fell in love with the late actor Heath Ledger on the set of Brokeback Mountain in 2004, and in October 2005 gave birth to their daughter Matilda. Her body of work includes the critically acclaimed films Blue Valentine, My Week with Marilyn, and Manchester by the Sea.
Fun Fact: (SPOILER ALERT:) The character of Jen died in the series finale, and Michelle was nervous and scared about this fact. She was worried if they ever did a reunion show, she would be unable to participate. Creator Kevin Williamson had consoled her, saying "Well, then you'll be a ghost."
Kerr Smith (Jack McPhee)
THEN: Kerr Smith was born on March 9, 1972 and although he first began portraying 16-year-old Jack McPhee, Smith was actually 26. The character of Jack was introduced in season 2 along with his sister Andie, and creator Kevin Williamson knew all along that he wanted Jack to be gay. However, he decided not to mention it to anyone. Kerr would go on to be the first man to have an on-screen gay kiss on U.S. television.
NOW: Kerr has starred in films including Final Destination and My Bloody Valentine, and has had roles on television shows including Charmed, Life Unexpected, and The Fosters.
Fun Fact: When speaking out about the ground-breaking episode, Kerr Smith recalled, "I did know how historic it was and he did too. I'll never forget the day that we were filming that. I was quite nervous, as was he...We knew what we were doing. We knew what were were addressing."
Meredith Monroe (Andie McPhee)
THEN: Like her on-screen tv brother, Meredith Monroe was not a teenager when filming the show. Born on December 30, 1969 Monroe was 29 when she began playing 16-year-old Andie, the love interest of Pacey Witter. She was a series regular in seasons 2 and 3, and made special appearances in season 4. Prior to the show, Monroe had roles in the shows Dangerous Minds and Sunset Beach.
NOW: Monroe is well-known for her role as Haley Hotchner, Aaron Hotchner's wife in Criminal Minds. Most recently, she has starred as Carolyn, the mother of Alex Standall in 13 Reasons Why.
Fun Fact: Monroe's character Andie, did indeed return for the series finale of Dawson's Creek. Her character was a medical resident in Boston, and she had scenes with Jen and ex-boyfriend Pacey. However, though her scenes did not air they can be found on the DVDs.
John Wesley Shipp (Mitch Leery) & Mary-Margaret Humes (Gail Leery)
THEN: Shipp (born January 22, 1955) and Humes (born April 4, 1954) portrayed Mitch and Gail Leery, the often dysfunctional parents of Dawson. Mary-Margaret won the Miss Florida USA pageant in 1975, and also starred in Mel Brooks's History of the World, Part 1. John Wesley Shipp had portrayed the lead role in the superhero series The Flash (1990-1991) and had roles in daytime soap operas Guiding Light (1980-1984) and As The World Turns (1985-1986).
NOW: Shipp has a recurring role on the Arrow spin-off The Flash, where he stars as Dr. Henry Allen/Jay Garrick. Humes has acted in several Lifetime and Hallmark TV movies, including Home By Spring and Christmas Eve.
Fun Fact: John Wesley was disappointed with the show once creator Kevin Williamson departed, and he didn't like how small the roles of the parents had become. He set his contract price high, and executive producer Paul Stupin asked if he would do a death story line, to which Wesley agreed.
Mary Beth Peil (Evelyn "Grams" Ryan)
THEN: Mary Beth Peil was born on June 25, 1940 and had trained as an opera singer. She would go on to tour with Boris Goldovsky's opera company, and appeared in Broadway shows including The King and I and Birds of Paradise. Peil would go on to be cast as Jen Lindley's doting grandmother Evelyn Ryan, and was the only actress to appear as a credited regular throughout the course of the show.
NOW: Since the series finale, Peil has kept busy with performances in the theater. She had roles as Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna in Anastasia and Madame de Rosemonde in Les Liaisons Dangereuses.
Fun Fact: Peil has been nominated for a Tony Award, a Drama Desk Award and an Outer Critics Circle Award for her roles in the theater.
Questions & Answers
Question: Why do you think that Pacey has annihilated Dawson in the poll? After all the show wasn't called Pacey's Creek.
Answer: I think Pacey started out a supporting character but was so likable and endearing that you couldn’t help but root for him. Plus Pacey and Joey had amazing chemistry that was hard for Dawson to match!
© 2018 Rachel M Johnson