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James Van Der Beek: 'No Dawson-Con This Year'

The former "Dawson's Creek" star reveals his FunnyOrDie videos led directly to his first series comedy role in ABC's midseason entry "Apartment 23" -- and that he’s not planning a retort to former co-star Joshua Jackson's Comic-Con viral hit from last year.

James Van Der Beek
Angela Weiss/Getty Images
James Van Der Beek

Fans of Dawson's Creek heading to Comic-Con later this month, don’t expect to see James Van Der Beek staging a comeback to last year’s Pacey-Con.

Many viewers of the former WB soap remember Creek co-star Joshua Jackson staging Pacey-Con, in which the Fringe actor -- dressed as Creek’s Pacey Whitter and carrying a boom box playing Paula Cole’s “I Don’t Wanna Wait” -- outside of Comic-Con. The video, which was filmed for FunnyOrDie.com, went on to become a viral hit.

One would think --or at least hope-- that Van Der Beek, who for six seasons played sensitive do-gooder Dawson Leery as he battled Jackson for the affections of Katie Holmes’ Joey Potter, would have a comeback to Pacey-Con planned. Particularly when you consider his recent success with his own FunnyOrDie videos, in which he mocked Crying Dawson, a now-infamous scene from series.

“I don’t have anything planned for Comic-Con,” Van Der Beek told The Hollywood Reporter. “I never thought I’d see the day when Joshua Jackson is walking through a crowd of people holding up a boom box with the theme song playing. I thought Pacey-Con was a hoot but I don’t have a specific counterpart to that.”

Comic-Con 2011: Full THR Coverage

Instead, Van Der Beek is in production on ABC’s midseason comedy Apartment 23 in which he plays a loose version of himself opposite Krysten Ritter’s Chloe, a woman with the morals of a pirate who attempts to swindle New York transplant June (Dreama Walker).

The role marks Van Der Beek’s first foray into series comedy and, he says, it’s one he wouldn’t have gotten had it not been for his FunnyOrDie work, which include such gags as “DILF Khakis” and “Asshole for Hire,” which also spawned its own comedy site, James Van Der Memes, with gifs of the actor expressing various emotions.

“The people who created Apartment 23 saw the FunnyOrDie videos and said, ‘This is perfect; we want him on the show doing this kind of comedy,” Van Der Beek says of his role, which in the original script was written for former N’Sync singer Lance Bass.  “Now they’re creating this whole character that has my basic résumé on it but the rest is completely made up.”

Van Der Beek, whose credits also include Mercy and episodes of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, says without the videos he would more than likely have continued with drama. “I had so much fun doing the videos and they got such a great response that I thought, ‘You know what, maybe I should look at comedy this year,’ ” he notes. “When Apartment 23 came, it was a dream team of producers, writers and directors and this wonderful package. I thought, ‘If I’m going to do comedy, these are the people I want to work with; I’d be a fool to say no to this one.’ ”

While there are tips of the hat to Van Der Beek’s days on Dawson’s Creek -- as well as his character from the feature Varsity Blues – don’t expect the series to make the character a one-joke punching bag.

“I’m sure there will be fewer Dawson and Varsity Blues references; [my character] will be more of a way of satirizing actors in general,” he says. “The only thing you won’t see on Apartment 23  is anything about my wife and kid -- it’s more funny if I’m single and nefarious than married and in daddyland.”

As for Dawson’s Creek fans left wondering what a Dawson-Con would look like, Van Der Beek joked that it would include a crying consulting booth with a coach offering tips on how to contort your face as well as a sensitivity battle, which he’d naturally judge.

“To win, you have to really listen, not say what you really mean, talk around the subject and end up misunderstood and apologize about 47 minutes later,” Van Der Beek said with a laugh. “And it would have to go head-to-head with Pacey-Con – you’d really have to force fans to chose which side they’re on.”

In the meantime, be on the lookout for more comedy videos from the new funnyman. “There may not be a Dawson-Con coming, but maybe we’ll see more Van Der Memes In the future,” he teased.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit

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