Dawson Is Back! James Van Der Beek Joins 'Mercy'
By Jenna Busch Posted Feb 2nd 2010 02:30PM
We recently caught up with Van Der Beek, and after bonding over the unreliable service of our iPhones, he told us a bit about how this character is nothing like Dawson, why he decided to get back into television and what kind of action he's going to get this season.
Check out our exclusive interview after the jump.
Congratulations on the show!
"Oh, thank you very much!"
Tell us a little bit about your character.
"Well, he's a brilliant, talented doctor who thinks he's the smartest guy in the room. And is right about 90% of the time. [laughs] Some would say he's a complete jerk. Others would say he's goal oriented. I say he's goal oriented. And his goal, I think, is saving the most amount of patients and making the most amount of money for the hospital. He's not too careful about anybody's feelings. It's a very...what makes the show great is that it's such a caring, sensitive likeable group of people who populate that hospital, and this guy cares not one iota about being likable. He comes in there and runs roughshod over all these people. I'm having a great time."
I had read in a description of your character that he's a womanizer. Should I ask who there's going to be a hook up with?
"Um, well, I don't want to give anything away, but let's just say that I've already got more action in two episodes than I did in the first four years on 'Dawson's Creek'. [laughs] Mind you, my character was actually a virgin until age 24, so, yeah."
[laughs] I also hear your character has a deep, dark secret. Any hints you can give us about that?
"You know, I actually, myself, don't even know specifically, exactly what that deep dark secret might be."
So how does that affect you while you're building your character back story?
"Essentially what it really does for me is, I know this is a guy who is...I don't want to give too much away in terms of how I built it, but there's definitely a fire burning inside this guy, and it makes him a great doctor. It got him through medical school. It kept him up at 4am when he had to study. And there's something about him that really likes a thrill. That likes to live on the edge, that likes to push boundaries, that likes to see boundaries and just step over them. So when that bleeds over into your personal life, it can lead to any number of problems, whether it be an addiction or taking something too far or risking too much and losing big time. So I feel like the tendency is there, and the way I've built him...[laughs]...I built him in such a way, the writers built it, really...in such a way that there are a number of ways that his personality can turn around and burn him in the ass. It will be interesting to see what route they choose."
How did this all come about? Did you say, I want to do series television again? Did they come to you?
"Yeah, you know, I was so burned out after six years of doing it, that I thought I'd never do it again. In all my wisdom at age 26. [laughs] And so I kind of dropped out for a bit. I disappeared for a little while and recharged and grew up a little bit. And then, a couple years ago, I started saying yes to these things that I was being offered. Television guest spots and guest arcs, and I just started having a lot of fun. I started doing a lot of different television shows and worked with a lot of cool people. And it kind of sparked a passion for it again."
I know there has been speculation about you becoming a series regular. Is that something you can say yes or no to?
"It's a possibility. I was actually looking for something like this. An arc in an already established show, just because I have fun doing that. This was a possibility to come in and try something new and if it worked, then maybe do it as a regular thing. So it's a great show, it's really well written, the actors are really great, and the character is...just a really fun way to go about your day."
I'm curious...I have to ask you something about 'Dawson's Creek' or the Twitterverse will shoot me.
'We don't want that! [laughs]"
No, no! [laughs] I'm curious, why do you think everyone from the show has been so successful?
"You know, I don't know. I think part of it was the fact that we were in North Carolina and we were more or less raised by a really good crew of people down there in a really great community. I think, had we been in LA, we could have... we probably would have fallen under some different influences at a very crucial time in our lives. And also the fact that we were so far away means that, we made the mistakes that all kinds of kids make, [laughs] especially when you're on a TV show, but we were doing it without having it all over the cover of US magazine. You know? US was a monthly publication at that point, and it was a respected one. So it was before this whole tabloid, cell phone camera, kind of thing really started. So we could afford to not be perfect and learn from our mistakes and not have to pay for them for the rest of our lives."
"I feel so bad for these kids now who are on these shows, and they make one misstep and they're labeled and branded and they're just followed and stalked. And it's just really unhealthy. I don't know how anyone can come out of that unscathed. Without some help and some really good influences around. And it's tough when you get like that... I call it an indiscriminate magnet. You attract all kinds of people. Some of them good, some of them with less than good intentions. I think we were just very fortunate. We were around some good people and kudos to Kevin Williamson for casting some really talented people who were able to make a career out of this. Not just casting some hot model type in every role."
What other projects do you have coming up?
"Yeah, I've got a movie called 'Formosa Betrayed', which is inspired by true events. I play an FBI agent investigating the murder of a Taiwanese-American. We shot that in Chicago and then five weeks in Bangkok. That was pretty crazy. That's going to come out February 26th in, I think, four or five cities, and then by the end of March, it will be in twenty cities...we're telling the story of what happened between Taiwan and China and how the US got involved. It's a story that's never been told before. These financiers were thanking us for doing the movie with tears in their eyes. That experience in and of itself was unique and special and it made it easier to deal with the long hours of being in a film. It was fun."
'Mercy' airs on Wednesdays at 8/7c on NBC.
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