Throwback Thursday: James Van Der Beek Leaves Dawson Behind

4.24.2014

By Stacy Lambe

The actor sheds his good boy image

After four years of playing Dawson Leary on the primetime teen soap, Dawson's Creek, James Van Der Beek was ready to shed his TV persona. While he starred in a few movies during his Dawson days, no role was more adult than Sean Bateman in The Rules of Attraction.

The big screen adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis's book saw Van Der Beek selling drugs, having random sex and making out with Ian Somerhalder as the film's antihero. The character, which is the younger brother of American Psycho's Patrick Bateman, was a far cry from Dawson. 

"Doing it felt like an exorcism," Van Der Beek recently told EW of the role. "I had all this darkness that had no outlet whatsoever playing the most sensitive teenager in the history of television."

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Now, over a decade since Dawson's Creek went off the air, Van Der Beek has shed himself of those demons and settled into adulthood. He currently stars on the CBS sitcom Friends with Better Lives, while his former co-stars also embrace their new roles: Katie Holmes as Jonas's Mother in The Giver, Joshua Jackson in The Affair on Showtime, and Michelle Williams taking the stage as Sally Bowles in the revival of Cabaret

Man, the class of 2003 sure did turn out all right. 

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