James Van Der Beek biography

James Van Der Beek

Date of Birth: March 8, 1977

Despite having a long head, James Van Der Beek has emerged as one of the ultimate teen pin-ups of the late 1990s, all thanks to the title role of Dawson Leary in the WB Network's Dawson's Creek.

Born to a cell phone salesman father and a mother who ran a gymnastics studio, Van Der Beek was raised in his hometown of Cheshire, Connecticut.

The oldest of three children, he was an honors student and excelled at football until an injury at 13 sidelined his budding career. In its own way the injury proved to be serendipitous, as it led Van Der Beek to take up acting. He started doing community theater for kids, practicing his craft.

Years passed but his love of acting continued to motivate him, so Van Der Beek and his mom traveled to New York and found him an agent.

Van Der Beek made his professional debut at the age of 16 in the Off-Broadway production of Finding the Sun, which was written and directed by Edward Albee.

More stage work ensued, as did some television work (most notably in the form of a 1995 stint on As the World Turns). Van Der Beek made his film debut in the 1995 comedy Angus, aptly cast as a golden-boy football quarterback.

Another movie, the Claire Danes/Jude Law vehicle I Love You, I Love You Not, followed in 1997, but the film got off to a rocky start and never received a wide release.

When Van der Beek auditioned for the role of Dawson Leary, he thought his chances at the part were slim considering he was 20 and the character was a 15-year-old. The producers clearly liked what they saw and Dawson's Creek premiered in January of 1998, giving Van Der Beek his big break.

The show's success with critics and audiences alike propelled Van Der Beek and his fellow cast members into the limelight, and he soon secured his first major film roles, first in the little-seen Harvest (1998), and then in the football comedy-drama Varsity Blues (1998). The film's modest reviews were overshadowed by its financial success, geared as it was toward a new generation of teenagers eager to see their favorite actors in glorious celluloid.

The film's enthusiastic commercial response, coupled with Dawson's continuing success, virtually guaranteed the young actor that no matter what the future held for him, his career had certainly gotten off to a very positive start.

James Van Der Beek Filmography


James Van Der Beek Photo