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James Van Der Beek reinvents himself as a self-aware comedy icon. Hey, it worked for Neil Patrick Harris.
Admit it: until you see the first episode of “Don’t Trust the B---- in Apt. 23” you’re a little more interested in The Beek than the B.
James Van Der Beek is back on the small screen in the decidedly unpredictable ABC sitcom, and one might think it’s a role he was born to play: James Van Der Beek, a wacky, twisted version of himself as the bestie of Chloe (Krysten Ritter), the titular roommate who terrorizes, kinda-sorta, her new roomie (Dreama Walker). But as Van Der Beek explains, it’s more of a stretch than it sounds.
On landing the gig playing The Beek:
"I auditioned against six other James Van Der Beeks for this role. I was lucky that four of them were not actors, and two of them didn't speak English so by default, it was me. No, this has been the most fun I think I've ever had doing anything. We came up with this character. By Episode 3, I thought it bore, you know, less and less resemblance to me, which just made it even more fun…I had done some 'Funny or Die' stuff and just had some fun and kind of realized if you tell a joke at a party, you always get more laughs if it's a self‑deprecating joke as opposed to a self‑aggrandizing one."
On why it was time to skewer his own image:
"I think once the residual money ran out is really when it became okay to make fun of it. [Laughs] Thankfully they've kept me around Hollywood long enough to kind of have a second coming, and it's a lot more fun not to take myself so seriously, and so this is a great opportunity just to have a lot of laughs and just be part of something that I'm really, really proud of. I mean, the real reason to do this, when I was reading the script and just looking at the people involved, it was like a comedy dream team. It was far and away the funniest script I read this pilot season, or really any pilot season."
On the TV Beek versus the real-life Beek:
"This character is just kind of crazy. Like, he's really sweet, but he's completely narcissistic. He's got so many blind spots, and so it was really fun to kind of exploit those blind spots and see what they were and just go as far as we possibly could and into the land of ridiculous but still keep it grounded somehow, which is what the writing allows us to do."
On the tempering the inevitable references to Dawson, Joey, Pacey, et al.:
"In Episode 2, we talk about ‘Dawson’s Creek’ a little bit. And then by Episode 3, we're kind of into all kinds of other weird facets of celebrity pop culture that we skewer. I don't even think we even make another ‘Dawson's Creek’ reference until late in the season…When we shot the pilot, I did not have any of Dawson's flannels in my closet, but I thought that my mom might have kept one, oddly enough. And so I e‑mailed her frantically and she did not have any flannels. I think they've all gone the way of Salvation Army at this point."
On making sure the show doesn’t turn into “Don’t Trust the Beek In Apt. 23”:
"I really am just part of the ensemble. I mean, the show's not based on me. It's really about these two girls and their relationship and their dynamic and living in New York City, all the crazy adventures they go through. I'm just kind of seasoning to the steak."