PASADENA, Calif. — James Van Der Beek is tossing away his image.
The so-called “Beek from the Creek” (as in Dawson’s Creek, where he played Dawson for six seasons) is spoofing his public persona with the new Don’t Trust the B---- in Apartment 23 (9:30 p.m. Wednesdays on ABC).
In the comedy, he plays a “heightened” version of himself, a narcissist and all-around troublemaker.
He’s partners in slime with pseudo-sociopathic Chloe (Krysten Ritter), whose ex-boyfriend/best pal just happens to be this alter-ego James Van Der Beek. The two live to torture others, most notably Chloe’s long string of roommates, the most recent being the naive June (Dreama Walker).
Chloe, with the aid of the Van Der Beek character, is not just a roommate who steals June’s food or borrows her best pair of jeans. She’s the type who steals June’s boyfriend, money, and furniture.
“When you’re the moral center of the show, your boundaries are pretty much set on what you can do,” Van Der Beek, 35, married and a father, says. “The great thing about being a supporting character is that there are no boundaries. You can go crazy ... and you can have a lot of fun with that.”
After Dawson’s Creek, the actor struggled building a movie career. He was mowed over by critics for his one-note performance in the coming-of-age football drama Varsity Blues. He received raves for the box-office flop The Rules of Attraction, in which he played a drug-taking college student who thinks he’s God’s gift to women.
Future film roles were mainly comedies that either played off Dawson or embraced it for laugh’s sake.
He recalls telling Apartment 23 producers to feel free to do what they need to do.
“I said, don’t ever be afraid of offending me,” he says. “If I was concerned that people think (the Apartment 23 character) is really the way I am, I would never have done it.”