James Van Der Beek talks Ke$ha, killing unicorns, and playing himself

James Van Der Beek may have finally discovered his greatest role: James Van Der Beek. Consider the evidence. He made us laugh last month with the Funny or Die “Van Der Week” videos. Today, he co-stars in Ke$ha’s new “Blow” music video as a tuxedo-clad, laser-toting version of himself. And he was recently cast in the comedy pilot Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apt. 23 as a former teen heartthrob named James Van Der Beek. We talked to the ex-Dawson’s Creek star about unicorns, getting beheaded, and the difference between himself and “himself.”

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was your reaction when you were pitched the idea of shooting unicorns with lasers?
JAMES VAN DER BEEK: I’ve been on this kick in the last year or so of whatever’s being offered — no matter how off the wall — if it sounds fun, just saying yes. The pitch is, “Unicorns and lasers and a James Bond tuxedo?” I just said, “Why not?”

What’s your take on what is actually happening in the video? Are you secret agents? Is this a dream? Are you in the future?
The more questions you ask, the more your head’s just gonna spin. I think the more you try to come up with a logical explanation for it, the more frustrated you’re gonna get. Just kick back and enjoy. The credit for anything you like about the video has to go to the director, Chris Marrs [Piliero]. He came up with the concept, wrote the dialogue, shot it…

Don’t sell yourself short here. You very skillfully removed your own bra.
I’m still scratching my head over that one. I hadn’t read the treatment carefully enough, and when I got to the set, they handed me this bra. I said, “What’s this for?” They said, “The part when you reach in and take your own bra off.” I said, “Really? Awesome!”

What was it like working with Ke$ha?
She’s a kick, man! She’s a hoot. Kind of the best version of who you think she would be from her music. She’s from Nashville, just a whiskey-drinkin’, fun-lovin’, unicorn-smoochin’-slash-killin’, Van Der Beek-beheadin’ kind of gal.

You’ve been playing yourself quite a bit lately. What’s your method for becoming James Van Der Beek?
It starts with hours of preparation. [Laughs] It’s just one of those things that started happening. It wasn’t really by design, necessarily. You’re kind of lucky enough when you’re part of something that hits or catches on in popular culture, and all of a sudden people are asking you to play “You.” I try not to take myself too seriously. Maybe I’m the only idiot who gets these things suggested to him.

On this TV pilot, it’s one of the writers from American Dad, and one of the producers from How I Met Your Mother and Family Guy, and the director from Modern Family, just a great group of people. They said, “We could have you play an actor who’s [the main character’s] friend, but if you play yourself, then we get to make Dawson’s Creek jokes.” And I thought, “Well, that could be fun.”

What’s your role in the pilot? What level of yourself is appearing in the show?
I called the writer and said, “Listen, don’t be worried about insulting me at all. Let’s just go for whatever’s funniest.” It’s kind of wide open. We’re still re-writing it. And when I say “we,” I mean “she.” I’m the main character’s best friend. We had a relationship before, but it didn’t work out for reasons which you’ll see in the pilot. So now she calls me her “straight gay best friend.” I’ll be single in New York, using the fact that I was once a teen idol to get laid. In real life, I’m happily married and I just had a baby.

So you’re living vicariously through yourself right now.
I think you just blew my mind.


Comments (17 total) Add your comment
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  • Hoobi

    I felt kinda sad for him that he didn’t have a decent career after DC, because he’s not that bad an actor. And as is seems he is quite funny. The funny&die videos were hilarious!! So let’s hope his show will be picked up b/c I wouldn’t mind watching him trashing his DC gig. :-)

  • Sam

    I’m not sure if Mr. Van Der Beek is honestly self-aware enough to pull off this role. It works for Matt LeBlanc because he was a decent-to-good actor in a “dumb guy” role. Van Der Beek was a middling-to-awful actor playing an intellectual.

    • Amanda

      I don’t know. Did you see the Van Der Week videos on Funny or Die? They were pretty effin funny. It almost kind of reminds me of how NPH’s career got jumpstarted though…Playing some uber-exagerrated version of their celebrity personas.

    • Amy

      Yeah I disagree Sam. Catch up on James’s recent bag of tricks. He’s pretty brilliant.

      As for previous roles, he did great with what he was given.

  • jt

    OH, Sam. You’re so wrong. I’m enjoying this side of James. Actually, I enjoy all sides of James. :)

    • topazbean

      It’s just the cool cycle. He (or at least Dawson’s Creek) was cool, then he was boring, then kind of a joke, then nostalgic, then ironic, and now he’s heading all the way back to cool again. And he’s a bit older now so he may actually stay there. Who can say? Depends how decent this new show is.

  • alex

    i think he’s great and i will totally watch his new show.. it sounds like a great team working on it and i think he’s smart to be like “i’m going to do what i need to do to stay working in this business”. i mean how many former teen stars get that chance?

  • Anita Mann

    But Ke$sha?

  • emmett

    Everyone is missing the best part of the vid! … “And I grabbed the BEAR by the THROAT and I said you have until the count of ZERO to put your pants on and apologize to the president… And that’s how I got elected to Parliament”. This new Keshism tops “I got here by running my mouth.”

  • Jen

    James is so underated as an actor. Take a look at all his work -the guy has an amazing ability to capture a character and make it believable in any genre. The varying roles which he has portrayed so far a blinding proof that this actor can pretty much do anything. Playing yourself has nothing to do with self-awarenenss, but the ability to just have fun and go with it. Hats off to him – he’ll be great.

  • adifferentblog

    wasn’t he supposedto be in a pilot with the guy from saved by the bell. they were playing lawyers or something

  • Billl

    I think he can do as well with this conceit as the actress who played Jennifer Grey in the turn of the century sitcom ‘It’s Like, You Know…’

  • deedeedragons

    I guess he got over shadowed the series did also star Michelle Willams, Katie Holmes & Joshua Jackson. Hell Kerr Smith has gotten more work than him.

  • Kat

    James was great in Funny or Die!Yet I have to say this Kesha, Unicorn, BLow Video was the Bomb..He was Hott! & Obviously wasn’t afraid to poke fun at himself..Very CooL

    • natasha

      I agree james is so fr***** fine in this video. He has proven to be diverse through many roles he has played in movies. Look at the movies rules of attraction, varsity blues and a few more. He is talented I would watch anything he put his fine *** to work on!

  • Matt

    I’ve gotta admit that I’ve never found him attractive but he was pretty hot in the Ke$ha video!

  • plus de facebook fan

    You can certainly see your skills within the work you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers such as you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. All the time go after your heart.

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