Tall, with blondish All-American looks, Dutch-American television and film actor James Van Der Beek was launched to stardom playing thoughtful, movie-loving, high schooler Dawson Leery on the hit TV show “Dawson’s Creek” (1998-2003). A pin-up favorite among the younger audience, the Steven Spielberg admirer who made his film debut in the unsuccessful Angus (1995), is also well-remembered as Texas football player Jonathon ‘Mox’ Moxon in the surprise hit Varsity Blues (1999), wherein he was handed a MTV Movie award, and in 2001, he won a second MTV Movie award, this time for his notable cameo appearance as Dawson Leery in the first Scary Movie series (2000).
More recently, the actor appeared in Standing Still (2005), Andy Dick’s Danny Roane: First Time Director (2006) and will soon play a role in the horror film The Plague (2006). On the small screen, Van Der Beek starred in the CBS comedy series “Three” (2005) and has joined the casts of CBS’ comedy pilot “Sex, Power, Love & Politics,” also starring Jane Krakowski and Jay Harrington.
“I’m not about to talk about what's romantic in my life. I figure if you talk about it once, then that’s an open invitation for everyone to dig into your personal life even further. So, I just keep my private life to myself. If people want to write anything about me, they can go ahead and do whatever they want. But they won't get a comment out of me, that’s for sure. It's a free country and I can keep my mouth shut whenever I want.” James Van Der Beek
One of People Magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People in the World” (1998), the Dawson’s Creek star, who was paid $3,000,000 for Texas Rangers (2001) and $200,000 for Varsity Blues (1999), prefers keeping his private life private. He is married to actress Heather McComb and lives primarily in New York City.
Athletic Baby James
Childhood and Family:
Born James William Van Der Beek Jr., on March 8, 1977, in Cheshire, Connecticut, James Van Der Beek is the oldest of three children to father Jim Van Der Beek, a cellular phone salesman and former pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and mother Melinda, a gymnastics studio owner and ex-Broadway dancer. He has a brother named Jared (born in 1979) and a sister named Juliana (born in 1981).
In kindergarten, James, whose nickname is Baby James, suffered from dyslexia, but later became an honor student at school. He was educated at a private school called Cheshire Academy in Cheshire, Connecticut, where he developed an interest in football. At age 13, he suffered a mild concussion that prevented him from playing on the school team. This led to the young boy turning his attention to acting. A “Dean’s List” student, James won an academic scholarship from Madison’s Drew University in New Jersey, where he majored in English with a minor in sociology. He later put his education on the backburner to pursue acting.
At age 26, on July 5, 2003, James married his actress-fiancé Heather McComb (born on March 2, 1977). The couple began dating in 1996 and became engaged at Christmas 2001. In what little free time he has, James enjoys playing the guitar, writing, spending time with his friends and playing sports. He also likes watching football on weekends and still plays the game with his friends whenever he has the time.
A football obsessed, 13-year-old James Van Der Beek decided to try his hand in acting after a concussion stopped him from continuing his interest in the game. Moving from the playing field to the stage, the athletic Van Der Beek made his acting debut in a school production of “Grease,” where he was cast in the starring role of Danny Zuko. Immediately finding a connection with acting, he went on to a regional children’s theater in his hometown of Cheshire, Connecticut. In 1994, the young actor made his professional stage debut in an Off-Broadway show by Edward Albee, “Finding the Sun.” A competent singer, as well as actor, he also starred in a revival of the musical “Shenandoah” at the Goodspeed Opera House.
Van Der Beek quickly progressed to film when director Patrick Read Johnson had him play the supporting role of Rick Sandford in the teen-oriented movie Angus, in 1995. The film, however, was better known for its soundtrack than its box office performance. The following year, he landed another nasty character in a drama film, the little-seen indie I Love You, I Love You Not, starring Claire Danes and Jude Law. In the meantime, he also joined the cast of the long-running series “As the World Turns” (1995), playing Stephen Anderson, and made a guest appearance in an episode of “Aliens in the Family” (1996).
However, Van Der Beek did not achieve wide popularity until 1998 when he was cast in the lead role of Dawson Leery in the WB series “Dawson’s Creek.” Portraying the idealistic, Spielberg-obsessed teenager ragged between his loves for his best friend Joey, a young girl on the brink of womanhood, and baffling new girl Jen, a more experienced and troubled New York City transplant, he won critical notice and soon became a well-known teen idol. As for the series, the Kevin Williamson-created show was a massive success among its intended teenage audience until its final season in 2003.
Van Der Beek’s career took flight. After a starring role opposite Jeffrey DeMunn and Mary McCormack in the independent drama Harvest (1998), he, with a newfound fame, took on the starring role of Jonathan ‘Mox’ Moxon, a Texas high school football hero, in the sport-themed Varsity Blues (1999), opposite Amy Smart and Paul Walker. The film was a surprise hit, grossing $52 million and reaching # 1 on the box office chart for two consecutive weeks. As for the actor, Van Der Beek took home a 1999 MTV Movie award for Best Breakthrough Male Performance. The films’ phenomenal success, combined with his talent, helped Van Der Beek transcend his heartthrob image and emerge as a strong performer and convincing box office draw.
Next up, James had an uncredited part in the 2000 Scary Movie, in which he netted an MTV Movie for Best Cameo before headlining the Western movie Texas Rangers (2001). Unfortunately, the latter movie, where he starred with Rachael Leigh Cook and Ashton Kutcher, was a commercial failure. He once again had to deal with disappointment when he teamed up with director Roger Avary for the thriller feature Rules of Attraction (2002), based on Brett Easton Ellis novel of the same name. In the film, he played Sean Bateman, a coke-selling, thrill-seeking, hermit who falls head-over-hills for a woman involved with bad boy Victor (Kip Pardue).
Two years after “Dawson’s Creek” ended, the series’ star resurfaced on the small screen to star with Zachary Levi and Jama Williamson in the pilot episode of CBS’s new comedy series “Three” (2005), playing John-O. The same year, he had a feature role in the drama film Standing Still, which starred Jon Abrahams and Amy Adams. Recently, the actor participated in Andy Dick’s Danny Roane: First Time Director (2006), as himself, and will be cast in the supporting role of Tom Russel in the forthcoming horror movie The Plague (2006). In February 2006, the 29-year-old actor reportedly joined the CBS’ comedy pilot “Sex, Power, Love & Politics,” opposite Jane Krakowski and Jay Harrington. The series revolves around staffers in their mid-30s who work on Capitol Hill.