TCA: 'Apartment 23's' James Van Der Beek Mocks Dawson, Talks Playing Himself

"I realized if you tell a joke at a party if it's a self-deprecating joke as opposed to if it's a self-aggrandizing one it's a lot funnier," the former "Dawson's Creek" star says.
Patrick Harbron/ABC
James Van Der Beek and Krysten Ritter in "Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23"

James Van Der Beek, who plays a heightened version of himself on Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23, offered a glimpse at his self-deprecating humor that's to come on the ABC midseason comedy, taking digs at Dawson's Creek and flannel as well as himself.

The comedy -- about a naive girl from the Midwest (Dreama Walker) who moves to New York and ends up living with a cunning roommate (Krysten Ritter) whose goal is to toughen her up or force her out of the city -- will use Van Der Beek's character as a way to skewer Hollywood using experiences from his own life and beyond.

Series creator Nahnatchka Khan noted producers discovered Van Der Beek via his Funny or Die videos in which he mocked his former WB character, Dawson Leery, with the actor noting that jokes about himself always land well.

"I realized if you tell a joke at a party if it's a self-deprecating joke as opposed to if it's a self-aggrandizing one it's a lot funnier," Van Der Beek told reporters.

Khan said that starting with a known personality such as Van Der Beek and Curb Your Enthusiasm's Larry David provides a lot of opportunity and that their James "character" was created before the launch of Showtime's Episodes -- in which Matt Le Blanc also plays a heightened version of himself.

"It's a really cool thing to take somebody in real life and make them a character and heighten it," Khan said. "There's so much blending of the lines anyway with Twitter and what's happening right now and [determining] what's real, what's fake."

"I love somebody who is very involved in their own thing, that's where comedy comes from," Khan added, later joking that Dawson's co-star Katie Holmes would guest star "under a black shroud." "James has been a global star and it's easy to see him in rarified world and he may not know how to do normal things like go to a dry cleaner. It's fun to poke fun at that."

While Van Der Beek noted he watched an episode of Episodes once he got the Apartment 23 job, he said found his character "sweet but completely narcissistic" and joked about the timing being right to mock the character that made him famous.

"Once the residuals money ran out, it became OK to make fun of it!" Van Der Beek said with a laugh. "They've kept me around Hollywood long enough for a second coming. It's a lot more fun to not take myself so seriously."

As for Dawson's famed flannels -- which make a few appearances in the pilot episode -- Van Der Beek said he e-mailed his mother in a panic hoping she'd still have one. "I don't have any in my closet. … I think they’ve all gone the way of the Salvation Army at this point."

"Every now and then I come home [from filming the show] and say to my daughter, 'Sorry for what I'm doing to the family name, kid," he laughed.

Email:; Twitter: @Snoodit