It's been more than 17 years since Dawson's Creek ended on The WB, which the kids today know as The CW, but it's one of those teen dramas that's impossible to quit—and it just may be about to have a renaissance. Some of us (okay, me) were too young to watch Dawson's Creek when it aired the first time, but the series has lived on in the years since via DVD and streaming, and as of November 1, it's officially back on Netflix in full, even if the original Paula Cole theme song won't be playing at the beginning of each episode.
A lot has changed since Dawson's Creek signed off for the final episode in 2003. Some mega stars have been made from the series, like Katie Holmes and Michelle Williams, and the iPhone has been invented, along with a few other significant developments in society.
And of course, the cast themselves has changed, too, because two decades are a long time, after all.Before you begin your Dawson's Creek marathon, here's how the cast has changed since the series originally aired.
Dawson (James Van Der Beek)
There would be no Dawson Leery without James Van Der Beek. Now, James is 43, married to Kimberly Van Der Beek, and is a father of four children. Though his career never quite reached Dawson levels again, he did impress fans when he competed on Dancing With The Stars in late 2019. In an interview with The Guardian in April 2017, James said there "was no off button" with the Dawson pandemonium when the show took off. "Walking around at that time was very tricky because one autograph could turn into a mob scene. So I walked around... in fear of teenage girls.”
Joey (Katie Holmes)
Between all the eye-rolling and long monologues on Dawson's Creek, Katie Holmes somehow found time to appear in movies including Teaching Mrs. Tingle and Wonder Boys. Her first big film after the series finale of Dawson was Batman Begins, playing Rachel Dawes. On the small screen, Katie has played Jackie O (The Kennedys), a “Slutty Pumpkin” (How I Met Your Mother), and a millionaire (Paige Finney on Ray Donovan). Now, Katie is a 41-year-old mother to her daughter, Suri, who has somehow become a teenager (?!) and, hot off a long relationship with Jamie Foxx, is currently dating chef Emilio Vitolo, who reportedly dumped his fiancé to get with her. Well, this is Katie Holmes we're talking about.
Jen (Michelle Williams)
When she played the rebel Jen Lindley, Michelle's career was just getting started. Little did she know she'd go on to become a Hollywood legend. Now a mom, an award winning actress, and an Oscar nominee, Michelle has gone on to star in movies like Brokeback Mountain, Blue Valentine, and The Greatest Showman... not to mention killing it on the red carpet, like she's doing here.
Pacey (Joshua Jackson)
There are two kinds of Dawson's Creek fans: Those who are Pacey Witter stans and those who are lying. It's hard to believe Canadian bae Joshua Jackson once sported the Pacey Witter bowl cut, but 20 years later, I'm happy to bring your attention to Joshua's well-maintained, incredibly hot beard, seen on the right at a press conference for Showtime's The Affair, which by the way is not a show about Pacey and his teacher Tamara Jacobs. Now 42 years old, he's recently married to actor Jodie Turner-Smith, and they have a child together: a daughter named Janie.
Dawson's Mom Gail (Mary-Margaret Humes)
It was definitely a bummer when Dawson's mom, Gail, cheated on his dad (sorry, spoiler), but once they got back together, they were one of the strongest TV couples ever. Who didn't watch this show and wish that Gail was their mom? Today, Mary-Margaret is basically the queen of Hallmark movies—she's starred in so many over the last several years. Still, every time I look at her, she's just Gail to me, but that's the sign of a truly impactful role, right?
Dawson's Dad Mitch (John Wesley Shipp)
Mitch, the best TV dad ever, who once advised Dawson, “Sex is a big part of who we are as human beings” (season one, episode one), held many jobs in Capeside, including guidance counselor and co-owner of Leery’s Fresh Fish. These days, he can be found playing Jay Garrick (Dr. Henry Allen) on The CW’s The Flash. You but you also may have seen him in Teen Wolf and One Life to Live—and he still regularly acknowledges his Dawson's roots.
Grams (Mary Beth Peil)
Capeside’s guiding light, Evelyn “Grams” Ryan, always knew best, even if the youngs didn’t want to admit it. Besides Dawson, Joey, Jen, and Pacey, Grams was the only character to have a leading role on Dawson’s Creek during its entire 6-season run (Bess and Gail were demoted to “recurring” in the final two seasons). If you’re ever in New York and need that good ‘ol Grams charm, you can catch Mary Beth Peil as the Dowager Empress in the Broadway production of Anastasia; the role earned Mary Beth a Tony nomination for Best Featured Actress.
Bess (Nina Repeta)
If all big sisters were as perfect as Bess, the world would be a better place. Nina Repeta’s Dawson’s connection is creator Kevin Williamson; the two went to college together at East Carolina University. Twenty years later, Nina is a self-described “bohemian art mom” and “wife of aquaman.” She also sings jazz and blues, and owns at least one pillow with a decorative dog print.
Bess' Boyfriend Bodhi (Obi Ndefo)
Over four seasons, Bodhi only appeared on 11 episodes, which is too bad because actor Obi Ndefo’s chiseled eyebrows deserved better (ie. more screen time). If you eventually gave up on trying to explain why Bodhi was always out of town, perhaps you made time to check out Obi’s other TV work, which included episodes of Stargate SG-1, The West Wing, and 2017’s Beauty and the Baller.
Pacey's Teacher Tamara (Leann Hunley)
A legend from TV’s OG Dynasty (playing Dana Waring Carrington), Leann Hunley took Capeside by storm when her teacher character had a forbidden love affair with student Pacey Witter. Leann would go on to play Logan’s mom Shira on Gilmore Girls and Anna DiMera on Days of Our Lives.
Jack (Kerr Smith)
Jack’s journey to coming out on Dawson’s Creek (by way of dating Joey) set a new standard for how to deal with LGBTQ+ storylines on TV in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. For five seasons, Kerr Smith beautifully explored Jack’s growth and relationships, even putting a spotlight on his friendship with the extremely conservative Grams. Kerr Smith keeps a pretty low profile these days, but he was most recently seen starring in another teen drama: Riverdale. Today, he's 48 and also known for his roles in Life Unexpected and The Fosters.
Andie (Meredith Monroe)
As much as fans loved Pacey and Joey together, it was impossible not to also root for his relationship with Andie, Jack's sister, who was played by Meredith Monroe. Monroe’s character faced very real issues, from her intense relationship with Pacey to her mental health struggles. Though she'll always be Andie in my heart—and for the way she portrayed mental illness on the show—since her days on the creek, Meredith has had more recent roles in 13 Reasons Why, Criminal Minds, and Hart of Dixie.
Pacey's Brother Doug (Dylan Neal)
Outside of bossing and being a dad figure to Pacey (big bros always know best), Doug had the best collection of tight police uniforms in Capeside. His personal life didn’t get interesting until the series finale, when the show finally rewarded him with his true love, Jack McPhee. IRL, actor Dylan Neal was most recently seen in the Fifty Shades films, playing Anastasia’s stepfather Bob.
Audrey (Busy Philipps)
Audrey should have been in Jen's life (and all of our lives) much, much earlier in the show's run. But Busy Philipps had another show to do (Freaks and Geeks) and we should still be grateful for her wit and charm at the fictional Boston Bay College. With Dawson's behind her, Busy has totally become a pop culture icon (and she and Michelle Williams have been BFFs ever since). Though her talk show, Busy Tonight, may have been short lived, the 41-year-old actress continues to shine.
Abby (Monica Keena)
After making her Dawson’s Creek debut in detention as Abby, Monica Keena would appear in 13 more episodes over two seasons. Sure, her friendship with Jen was questionable at first, but who hasn’t befriended an Abby in high school? Monica has since appeared on episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, Ghost Whisperer, Castle, and a handful of horror movies.
Chris (Jason Behr)
Remember when Dawson made a movie called Creek Daze? Remember his lead? That’s Chris, who always had too much gel in his hair and had a huge crush on Jen. IRL, Jason Behr would go on to star on his own WB show, Roswell, opposite Katherine Heigl and Shiri Appleby, which premiered in 1999 and lasted for three seasons.
Henry (Michael Pitt)
Continuing with Jen’s admirers, here’s sweet Henry, who arguably had the best lips in Capeside (sorry, Pacey). Actor Michael Pitt and his lips have enjoyed a steady film and TV career. Wonder what Dawson Leery, successful filmmaker, would have to say about Boardwalk Empire or Hannibal…
Eve (Brittany Daniel)
Following the success of the Sweet Valley High TV series, Brittany Daniel appeared on four episodes of Dawson’s Creek, playing mystery girl Eve, who turns out to be Jen’s half-sister. Her TV career continued well after Dawson’s, thanks to episodes of That ‘70s Show, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and most recently, Blackish.
Ethan (Adam Kaufman)
Jack's first love interest, Ethan, also had one of the nicest sets of eyebrows on the show. It's really too bad things never worked out between them, but on the bright side, Adam Kaufman and those brows are still killing it on TV these days. You might have seen him on an episode of Mad Men, NCIS, and most recently, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, playing Rebecca's Harvard professor and former lover.
Nikki (Bianca Lawson)
Before becoming a step-daughter to Tina Knowles (making her step-sisters with Beyonce and Solange), Bianca Lawson played a teen on everything from Dawson's Creek to Pretty Little Liars. Unfortunately, her season three arc on Dawson's, playing the principal's daughter and fellow film lover (hi, Dawson), only lasted for four episodes.
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