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James William Van Der Beek, Jr. (born March 8, 1977) is an Americanmarker television, film and stage actor, known for his portrayal of Dawson Leery in the WB Network drama series Dawson's Creekmarker.

Early life and stage career

Van Der Beek was born in Cheshire, Connecticutmarker, the son of Melinda, a former dancer and gymnastics studio manager, and James William Van Der Beek, Sr, a cellular phone company executive and former professional baseball pitcher. He attended Norton Elementary School, Dodd Junior High School, and the Cheshire Academy. At the age of 15, he asked his mother to take him into New York Citymarker to get an agent and try his hand professionally.

Van Der Beek made his professional debut in the New York premiere of Edward Albee's play Finding the Sun at the Signature Theatre Company in which he played the role of "Fergus." The production, which was also directed by Albee, received good reviews. At age 17, while still in high school, he performed in the musical Shenandoah at the Goodspeed Opera Housemarker, and made his feature film debut with a bit part as a bully in the teen-oriented 1995 film Angus. The following year, he shot a small role on the independent film I Love You, I Love You Not which starred Claire Danes, Jude Law and legandary French film star Jeanne Moreau.

Van Der Beek attended Drew Universitymarker but later dropped out to pursue acting. He performed at the Vinyard Theater in New York in Nicky Silver's play, My Marriage to Ernest Borgnine, and played a supporting role in the independent film Cash Crop, which was originally shot in spring of 1997 and originally titled Harvest released until in 2001.

Television and film career

In 1997 Van Der Beek auditioned for three television pilots. One of them was for the fledgling WB Network. The show was Dawson's Creekmarker. Van Der Beek won the title role of "Dawson Leery", and the show's 1998 debut was a success that helped to establish the network and its cast, which included Katie Holmes, Michelle Williams, and Joshua Jackson. The series, shot in Wilmington, North Carolinamarker, ran for six seasons, was popular for the first few years of broadcasting and made household names of the cast.

In 1999, he starred in the teen football comedy Varsity Blues. Van Der Beek won an MTV Movie Award for his role.

During this time, Van Der Beek was chosen as one of People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People in the World", and appeared in several other films, including Texas Rangers, Scary Movie, and Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back.

In 2002, he played Sean Bateman (younger brother of American Psycho protagonist Patrick Bateman) in the film adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis' The Rules of Attraction, written and directed by Roger Avary. The film was a box-office and critical failure. In 2006 he also appeared on the Direct-to-DVD thriller The Plague, which was produced by Clive Barker and was panned by critics.

After Dawson's Creek's run ended in 2003, Van Der Beek immediately returned to the Off-Broadway Stage, in Lanford Wilson's Rain Dance. He completed an unproduced screenplay titled Winning. Since then he has made a few appearances on television, including a role on Ugly Betty, and a performance in 2007 in a two-part episode of the series Criminal Minds in which he played a fanatic religious serial killer with dissociative identity disorder called Tobias Hankel who kidnaps and drugs one of the main characters Spencer Reid. In 2008, he made a guest appearance on How I Met Your Mother. Since 2008, he has also had a recurring role on One Tree Hill. He recently appeared on The Storm a NBC miniseries, and in an episode of the fifth season of Medium.

Personal life

In July 2003, Van Der Beek married actress Heather McComb. In June 2009, Van Der Beek's representative confirmed that the couple had separated after six years of marriage.On November 20, 2009, Van Der Beek filed for divorce.


Year Film Role Notes
1995 Angus Rick Sandford
1996 I Love You, I Love You Not Tony
1998 Cash Crop James Peterson Alternative titles: Harvest
A Desperate Season
1998 Castle in the Sky Pazu (Voice) Alternative titles: Laputa: The Flying Island
Tenkū no Shiro Rapyuta
1999 Varsity Blues Jonathon "Mox" Moxon
2000 Scary Movie Dawson Leery Uncredited
2001 Texas Rangers Lincoln Rogers Dunnison
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back Himself
2002 The Rules of Attraction Sean Bateman
2005 Standing Still Simon
2006 Danny Roane: First Time Director James Van Der Beek
The Plague Tom Russell Direct-to-DVD release
2007 Final Draft Paul Twist
2009 Taken in Broad Daylight Tony Zappa
Stolen Lives Diploma/Roggiani
Formosa Betrayed Jake Kelly
Year Title Role Notes
1993 Clarissa Explains It All Paulie 1 episode
1995 As the World Turns Stephen Anderson Unknown episodes
1996 Aliens in the Family Ethan 1 episode
1998-2003 Dawson's Creekmarker Dawson Leery 128 episodes
2005 Three John-O Unsold pilot
2006 Sex, Power, Love & Politics Ozzie Television movie
Robot Chicken Various roles (Voice) 2 episodes
2007 Eye of the Beast Dan Leland Television movie
Football Wives Brian Reynolds Unsold pilot
Criminal Minds Raphael/Tobias Henkel 2 episodes
Ugly Betty Luke Carnes 1 episode
2008 How I Met Your Mother Simon 1 episode
2008-2009 One Tree Hill Dixon 3 episodes
2009 Medium Dylan Hoyt 5 episodes

Awards and nominations

Year Award Result Category Film or series
2000 Blockbuster Entertainment Awards Nominated Favorite Actor - Newcomer (Internet Only) Varsity Blues
1999 MTV Movie Awards Won Best Breakthrough Male Performance Varsity Blues
2001 Best Cameo in a Movie Scary Movie
1999 Teen Choice Awards Nominated TV - Choice Actor Dawson's Creek
Won Film - Breakout Performance Varsity Blues


  1. James Van Der Beek Biography (1977-)
  2. Review/Theater; 3 Albee One-Acters About People Boxed In - New York Times
  3. SUNDAY VIEW; A Season of Albee, Obsessions Safely Intact - New York Times

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