Dawsons Creek splashed onto the scene on Jan. 20, 1998, with a verbose bang: I just think our emerging hormones are destined to alter our relationship, an apple-cheeked Katie Holmes Joey told her male best friend, Dawson (James Van Der Beek), and Im trying to limit the fallout.
Every generation has to find its voice in a new teen show.
The teen soap, set in the fictional New England town of Capeside, Mass., was glossier than 1994s angsty My So-Called Life, but less cheesy than 1990s Beverly Hills, 90210. Created by Kevin Williamson, writer of 1996s meta-horror hit Scream, it centered on four friends played by Van Der Beek, Holmes, Michelle Williams and Joshua Jackson and their nascent love lives. The show broke new ground: It featured the first gay kiss on American TV. It also starred teens (played by at least near-teen actors) who often talked more like savvy TV writers than kids.
Every generation has to find its voice in a new teen show, producer Greg Berlanti tells The Post. With Kevin [Williamson]s voice, Dawsons was a wonderful contrast between the emotions of being a teenager and dialogue of being an adult kids being as clever as adults, but still acting like kids.
The show ran for six seasons, becoming iconic enough that none of its stars can ever entirely escape it. Heres a look at how theyve fared since its 2003 finale.
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With his poofy blond hair and puppy-dog eyes, Van Der Beek made the perfect lead for the emo teen drama (immortalized in a popular GIF of Dawson bursting into tears). He upended his sensitive image in 2002s The Rules of Attraction, in the role of a sociopathic drug dealer, and played a dark version of himself on the sitcom Dont Trust the B—- in Apartment 23. Now, 40, hes still haunted by the Dawsonss theme song, he told The Guardian: If it started playing, theres a part of me and Im a f–king grown-ass man with four kids that still wants to go hide under the table.
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Beloved as the tomboyish Joey, Holmes began a promising film career in The Ice Storm, Wonder Boys and Batman Begins. But it was eclipsed by her marriage to A-list Scientologist Tom Cruise, which coincided with Holmes withdrawal from acting. The couple divorced in 2012, with Holmes now said to be dating Jamie Foxx. Last year, she made her directorial debut, All We Had, dedicated to her daughter Suri. Theres nothing in the world better than watching your child succeed, the 39-year-old actress told Town & Country.
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Williams, who played New York City newcomer Jen Lindley, went on to the highest-wattage acting career shes a four-time Oscar nominee. Her first was for Brokeback Mountain, the 2005 film where she met Heath Ledger, with whom she had a three-year relationship and a daughter. The 37-year-old star kept one Dawsons co-star close: Busy Philipps became Williams bestie and frequently attends awards ceremonies as her friend-date.
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Jackson, who counterbalanced the emo Dawson as sardonic Pacey Witter, went on to two standout roles, on HBOs The Affair and Foxs sci-fi thriller Fringe. Jackson, 39, dated actress Diane Kruger for 10 years; the two split up in 2016. He has also skewered his Dawsons persona, once with a Funny or Die video that saw him hosting a Pacey-Con, and with a cameo in The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt as a bodega cashier obsessed with Pacey and Joeys relationship.
Dawsons Creek football player Jack McPhee (Smith) came out of the closet at a time when gay characters were few and far between. Smith, 45, went on to roles on TVs The Fosters and in the horror film Final Destination. He still gets props for playing Jack, he told Bustle.com. I understand why people still relate to Jack, because I think that character was a big part of a lot of peoples lives growing up, he said.
Philipps, whod already made a splash in Freaks and Geeks, joined Dawsons in Season 5 as Joeys college friend. The 38-year-old actress went on to six seasons of the sitcom Cougar Town. Last year, she Instagrammed a video of her and Williams fondly reminiscing about all the boys their characters dated on Dawsons.
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Fred Norris/The CW/Courtesy Everett Collection
Thirty-six-year-old Michael Pitt, known for brooding performances in big and small-screen dramas (Boardwalk Empire, Funny Games, Ghost in the Shell), made an early-career Dawsons appearance as a freshman who fell hard for Williams character.
Before he was the star of one of Dawsons successors, One Tree Hill, Chad Michael Murray, now 36, played a boyfriend of Jens in 2001.