It’s easy for a celebrity to acknowledge that his TV show has a massive fan following, but it takes a special kind of star to discuss his cult status. James Van Der Beek seems to be incredibly down-to-earth, especially when it comes to discussing his iconic TV character Dawson Leery. He has a healthy sense of humor about the fact that his “Crying Dawson” expression from one episode of Dawson’s Creek has been immortalized as an internet meme, and even though the series ended almost a decade ago, he’s willing to revisit it.
James wrote a fascinating piece for Bullett Media that proves him to be not only an authority on his wannabe-director persona, but also incredibly self-aware. He addresses the open letter like you would a tender correspondence to the little brother you left behind when you moved away for college and to start your adult life. In the introduction alone, he notes that after Dawson’s Creek wrapped, he jumped to play enraged, sexually charged characters that wouldn’t be caught dead weeping. But when your roots mean this much to more than one generation of viewers, you can’t deny them.
I loved this segment, where he admits without guilt that he couldn’t always handle the pressures of playing such a recognizable character:
But make no mistake, I love you like a little brother. Always have. I’ve always cared about you, wanted the best for you, and, of course, went through that inevitable period when I hated it if people couldn’t tell us apart. I’ll admit now that it really tripped me out when strangers first started shouting, “I love you!” at me, thinking I was you. I felt so disconnected from whatever it was they thought they loved, and in my early 20s, I didn’t know how to handle that. They don’t make handbooks for this sort of thing. Not that I’m complaining, mind you, but it’s no coincidence that neither of the women I’ve married since we parted ways ever watched anything you did.
All of which made you exhausting to play, of course, but when my daughter gets old enough to Google my name and your picture comes up, I think we’ll be able to feel good about the example we set for her—maybe even good enough to forgive you for your hair. (On a side note—Seriously? You couldn’t have thought that looked good, even in the late ’90s.)
Aww. That little girl is so lucky. And so are all of us, James/Dawson’s fans.