James Van Der Beek Will Do Anything For A Laugh
To say "James Van Der Beek needs no introduction" would be an understatement. The actor is one of the most instantly recognizable faces thanks to the generation-defining series Dawson's Creek. Now, nine years later, he's re-embracing that character and sending up his public image by playing James Van Der Beek on ABC's whip-smart and deliciously dirty comedy, Don't Trust The B---- in Apartment 23.
James is currently kicking it in NYC spreading the word about tonight's episode, which welcomes Mad Men scene-stealer Kiernan Shipka. After watching a sneak peek clip above, read on to see what James says about his professional "ah ha" moment, swapping bodies with Christina Hendricks and that oft-rumored Creeker reunion.
Insider.com: How has your NYC morning been?
James Van Der Beek: It's going well. So far I've said "bitch" on Good Morning America and "damn" on Live with Kelly! And let me tell you, when I felt the air suck out the room with that last one. I was talking about my son crying and needing to give him to my wife because, "he could suck on my nipples but it wouldn't do him a damn bit of good." And I felt people clench. [whispers] "He said a bad word." They even told me three times before I went on that I couldn't say Bitch, I had to say Don't Trust The "B" in Apartment 23.
Insider: Has censoring yourself this frequently been an odd experience?
James: I feel like I'm teaching a remedial kindergarten class when I have to say "B" instead of Bitch. It's not the greatest world in the world, but in the right context it's funny. God love her ... but Chloe's a bitch.
Insider: What has the fan response been like?
James: It's been amazing and really overwhelming. We love the show, but we're so close to it and grew so fond of while making it.. It's funny because I really invest in every project I do – even if you sometimes put the blinders on a little bit – but people's reaction to this show kinda makes me realize how much they could have done without some of my other shows [laughs]. I definitely didn't get this kind of response with Mercy.
Insider: Well, I think people love that you're in on the joke here.
James: It's funny because I couldn't have done this role 5 years ago -- but with Facebook and Twitter now, people get my humor. People always describe this as a send up or a parody, but it's really not. To me, it's a character who just shares my name. And some of my resume. He has stuff on his resume that's not on mine.
Insider: What's your favorite fake addition?
James: We had the best time coming up with the Lifetime movie I did. There's a line where someone tells me, "The [blank] that you did is what allowed me to come out to my father" and the two options to fill in the blank were, "The paraplegic camp counselor you played on Party of Five" or "The blind house painter you played in the Lifetime movie with Susanne Somers where you taught her how to love again.” [laughs] We're literally behind the monitor coming up with this stuff – it's so fun.
Insider: And fake James goes on Dancing with the Stars too, right?
James: Yes, fake me goes on fake Dancing with the Stars. After four months of working practicing it. There's a joke that only worked if I was really good. And I'll do anything for a joke.
Insider: Anything? For real? Has anything been pitched that you had to put the kibosh on?
James: No. In the beginning we said that it should never come across as sad. If you're feeling sorry for me, it's not funny. But that was in the interest of always getting a laugh. I told the writers to never be afraid of offending me. I know it's a joke, I won't take anything personally.
Insider: Earlier you said that people wouldn't have been able to get this role five years ago. Would you have been able to do this role five years ago?
James: No way. For sure not. I made a real conscious decision after I met my wife and had my child that I would start saying yes. I spent a lot of time saying no out of fear or desire to preserve my ego of this person I had built up in my head. When things come into your life that are really important, you realize what is not. So at some point, I just had to ask why I was saying no. So I started saying yes to anything that sounded fun – it's how I ended up doing How I Met Your Mother, the Ke$ha video, FunnyOrDie videos. And as soon as you start to assassinate that ego a bit, you realize how happy you can be when not worrying about looking good all the time.
Insider: Tonight's episode welcomes Kiernan Shipka, who plays Sally on Mad Men. What brings her in?
James: It's so great – she plays herself in the episode. I sign up to do the one version of the body swap movie that's never been done: father/daughter swap. And lets just say it makes for the most wrong tag of any episode we've ever done [laughs]. Definitely stay to the end.
Insider: If you could actually switch bodies with any Mad Men star for a day, who would it be?
James: Is there any choice other than Jon Hamm?
Insider: Christina Hendricks? Just to see how the other half lives?
James: [laughs] Just to see! You know ... that could actually be interesting. I'm already seeing the benefits of that [laughs].
Insider: Are there any other actors you'd love to bring onto the show as themselves?
James: The list is very long. I'll definitely be calling some friends in season two, but I don't want to give anything away for now.
Insider: Well, you know, Josh Jackson recently said that he'd love to come play himself on Bitch, right?
James: He did?!?! Oh, that would be amazing. Done. Done. He really said that?
Insider: Yea, he volunteered that alternative when someone asked about a Dawson's Creek reunion. A question you must love getting over and over.
James: [laughs] I know, and the dead one is the most vocal one about wanting this reunion! [laughs] I smile because it's such a Michelle [Williams] thing to say. "Yes, Absolutely. I want to do it and Harvey Weinstein is going to produce it." I mean, you're dead – and you know this! I feel like she's Punk-ing us or something. It's soooo her sense of humor.
Don't Trust The B---- in Apartment 23 airs Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. on ABC.