James Van Der Beek is an American actor who became widely known for his portrayal of Dawson Leery on the long running TV series “Dawson Creek”. It ran for six seasons and began in 1998. The other three main actors on the show were Katie Holmes, Michelle Williams and Joshua Jackson. Since this was the first experience for Van Der Beek in a major acting role it essentially launched his acting career.
He is also well known for portraying a fictionalized version of himself on the ABC sitcom “Don’t Trust the B----in Apartment 23”.
Van Der Beek was born in Cheshire, Connecticut on March 8, 1977. His parents were James William Van Der Beek, a telephone company executive, and Melinda Weber Van Der Beek, a gymnastics studio manager. He has a brother, Jared born in 1979 and a sister Juliana born in 1981.
Following high school he applied to Drew University and was accepted. He remained there for a few years but decided to drop out temporarily and try to get into professional acting. While he was still in high school he had asked his mother to take him to Las Vegas so he could search for an agent to get him into acting. It is not known what his mother’s reaction was.
After dropping out of Drew University Van Der Beek was able to get his first professional role in a New York premiere of an Albee play, “Finding the Sun” at the Signature Theater Company. He played the role “Fergus”. Both he and the play received good reviews.
In 1994, while still in high school he performed in the musical, “Shenandoah” at the Goodspeed Theater Opera House. A year later he made his feature film debut with a bit part in the 1995 film “Angus”. In the following year, 1996 he had another small role in the film “I Love You, I Love You Not”.
After dropping out of Drew University Van Der Beek performed in “My Marriage to Ernest Borgnine” at the Vineyard Theater in New York. He also had a small role in the film “Cash Crop”. The film was shot in 1997 but not released until 2001.
In 1997 “Dawson Creek” began and that provided a routine for him. He did do additional acting. In 1997 he appeared in the film “Varsity Blues”. He also played minor roles in several other films such as “Texas Rangers”, “Scary Movie”, and “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back”.
In 2002, he played in “The Rules of Attraction”, and in 2006 Van Der Beek appeared in a DVD thriller “The Plague”.
Following the end of Dawson’s Creek he returned to the off-Broadway stage in “Rain Dance”. In 2007 he made a few appearances in a series, “Criminal Minds”. Since then he has continued to make appearances in a variety of movies, series or special episodes.
Van Der Beek has been able to garner a number of awards during his relatively brief career. In 1999 MTV Movie Awards gave him the Best Breakthrough Male Performance for his role in “Varsity Blues”. In 2001 MTV Awards again gave him an award for Best Cameo in a Movie for his performance in “Scary Movie”,
Teen Choice Awards gave him the Best Film Breakout Performance Award for his performance in “Varsity Blues”. Ten years later the San Diego film Festival gave him the Best Actor Award for his performance in “Formosa Betrayed”. Finally the NEW_NOW-NEXT Awards gave him the CMG Internet Award for “James Van Der Memes.com” production.
In conclusion, James Van Der Beek is a prolific performer. He has been able to penetrate the acting field without the benefit of an extensive training program, but with a lot of determination and spunk. He will continue to do well in his chosen field. At some point in time he may decide to go back to Drew University and claim that University degree that has eluded him so far.
“James Van Der Beek: 25 Things You Don’t Know About Me”, ENTERTAINMENT, January 16, 2013
James Van Der Beek: Actor, PEOPLE MAGAZINE, May 11, 1998, Vol. 49, No. 18
Various web sites such as IMDB and Wikipedia
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