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What Happened To The Cast Of Dawson's Creek?

It's easy to look back at "Dawson's Creek" as just another teen melodrama of the late 1990s. However, the show has actually left quite a legacy since it wrapped its sixth and final season in 2003.

For one, "Dawson's Creek" helped redefine and solidify the WB Network after a few years of struggling to find a mainstream audience. Alongside "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer" and "Gilmore Girls," the series shaped the network into an early version of its current form as The CW, which features plenty of teen-focused series in the same vein, like "Jane the Virgin," Riverdale," and more.

On top of that, it sports an impressive ensemble of young actors, many of whom went on to find tremendous success in Hollywood. It isn't just the stars of the show who continue to headline projects, either—nearly every character of substance from "Dawson's Creek" is still working in film and television today, often headlining their own projects.

We don't wanna wait. Here's what happened to the cast of "Dawson's Creek."

James Van Der Beek - Dawson Leery

It's impossible to separate "Dawson's Creek" from actor James Van Der Beek, who portrayed the title character and instantly shot to stardom. Van Der Beek's main era in the spotlight was during the late 1990s and early 2000s, but he's always seemed comfortable with the spotlight and has a self-deprecating sense of humor that has continued to win fans over.

After the series began, Van Der Beek landed major roles in films like "Varsity Blues" and "The Rules of Attraction," playing up his young heartthrob looks and charm. He still occasionally pops up in films, but often in memorable bit parts instead of starring roles.

Van Der Beek has landed several starring or recurring roles on television in the last several years. He played Dr. Joe Briggs as part of the ensemble of the short-lived NBC drama Mercy, and then played a self-centered, sad-sack version of himself as part of the main cast of "Don't Trust the B–––– in Apartment 23." He had a lead role on "CSI: Cyber," which lasted for just a few seasons. More recently, you might've seen him on Ryan Murphy's "Pose" or heard him as the voice of Boris on Disney's "Vampirina," and made headlines earlier in 2023 for a political rant he posted to Tik Tok calling for U.S. President Joe Biden to take the debate stage ahead of his re-election campaign.

Katie Holmes - Joey Potter

Katie Holmes had a pretty impressive debut in film and television. In addition to playing Joey on "Dawson's Creek," she also appeared in the notable films "Go", "Disturbing Behavior," and "Teaching Mrs. Tingle" (co-starring Helen Mirren), all within the same year. Holmes has had a solid acting career since, but she's arguably better known for her personal life at this point.

Things looked pretty promising for Holmes after "Dawson's Creek" concluded. She was cast as Rachel Dawes in "Batman Begins" and had a small role in "Thank You for Smoking." She then met Tom Cruise and, just seven weeks after they met, got engaged. Given his status in Hollywood, and Holmes' as a rising star in the industry, the pair held "It Couple" status for much of their marriage. They divorced in 2012, however, and it did seem to affect Holmes' career.

Holmes has recovered in ensuing years, portraying Jackie Kennedy in the miniseries "The Kennedys," and also had a memorable arc as Paige Finney on "Ray Donovan." More recently, she starred in horror flick "Brahms: The Boy 2." The actress has been focusing more energy on her work behind the camera in recent years, earning credits as director and producer on "The Kennedys," as well as feature films like "All We Had," "Alone Together," and "Rare Objects." 

Michelle Williams - Jen Lindley

Everyone thinks of Dawson and Joey when they remember "Dawson's Creek," but we can't let Jen escape our attention. Played by Michelle Williams, Jen starts the series as a complete mess who's been sent to Capeside to live with her grandmother. Her upbringing is different from the other lead characters, providing a totally unique perspective to life in the town.

Williams has shown off her formidable range by claiming several challenging roles over the years. She's been nominated for Academy Awards on five separate occasions, but has yet to win. A pair of those nominations were for her memorable supporting roles in both "Brokeback Mountain" and "Manchester by the Sea," while two of her nominations for leading roles came from 2010's Blue Valentine and 2011's My Week With Marilyn. Williams earned a third leading actor nom in 2023 for portraying the tragically whimsical mother in Steven Spielberg's pseudo-biopic "The Fablemans."

Williams will probably gun for another Oscar with her role in the biopic "Fever," where she stars as singer Peggy Lee. Some other recent roles include Anne Weying in Venom and its sequel, Charity Barnum in "The Greatest Showman," and Gwen Verdon in the miniseries "Fosse/Verdon," for which she won her first Emmy award.

Joshua Jackson - Pacey Witter

Only four actors are credited as appearing in every episode of "Dawson's Creek": James Van Der Beek, Katie Holmes, Michelle Williams, and Joshua Jackson. Jackson played Pacey on the series, rounding out the central cast.

Like the other stars of "Dawson's Creek," Jackson had some major appearances while the series was airing. He has continued to find success, mainly on other television series, in the years following the show's run. A few years after the "Dawson's Creek" finale, Jackson landed another starring role in the sci-fi series Fringe as Peter Bishop. "Fringe" ran until 2013, and then he landed yet another major role on the series "The Affair," where he played Cole Lockhart.

Jackson has had success as a stage actor, and has also appeared in a few major miniseries. Look for him on Hulu's "Little Fires Everywhere" as the husband of Reese Witherspoon's Elena, on "Dr. Death" alongside Alec Baldwin, Christian Slater, and Carrie Preston, and on the critically panned, but audience adored adaptation of "Fatal Attraction" on Paramount+.

Mary Beth Peil - Evelyn 'Grams' Ryan

When most people imagine the cast of "Dawson's Creek," they generally remember the beautiful 20-somethings who make up the core group. Even though it was billed as a teen drama, most of the supporting cast was older, as parents and other authority figures were central to the show's story. Actress Mary Beth Peil is one of the most memorable, playing Jen's religious grandmother, Evelyn "Grams" Ryan.

Peil was a renowned stage actress before being cast as Grams, earning a Tony Award nomination for her role in a 1985 run of "The King and I." She has returned to the stage several times since then, appearing in several other performances and receiving yet another Tony nomination in 2017 for her role in "Anastasia."

On the film and television side of things, Peil had a few major movie appearances, such as 2006's "Flags of Our Fathers" and 2008's "Mirrors." Her biggest television role since "Dawson's Creek" came from "The Good Wife," where she played Peter's mother, Jackie.

Kerr Smith - Jack McPhee

Even though actor Kerr Smith didn't show up until season two of "Dawson's Creek," there's no denying that he played one of the central characters of the series for the remainder of its run. Smith portrayed Jack, who joined the show as a love interest/rebound for Joey before becoming popular enough to warrant his own character development.

Smith has carved out quite a career for himself, taking on many recurring television roles and a handful of lead performances. He hasn't worked much in film since his early years in acting, when he appeared in a number of horror films, like "Final Destination."

On the TV side, however, Smith has been all over the place. After Dawson's Creek ended, Smith landed main roles on the legal drama "Justice" and the military drama "E-Ring." Neither of those series made it past its first season, however. Kerr also appeared briefly on "NCIS." He had a little more luck with "The Fosters" and "Life Unexpected," on which he played Robert Quinn and Ryan Thomas, respectively.

More recently, you may have caught Kerr Smith on the absolutely bananas show "Riverdale," where he plays Principal Holden Honey.

Mary-Margaret Humes - Gail Leery

Throughout the show's run, Dawson's parents go through almost as much drama as he and his friends do. Dawson's mother, Gail, is played by actress Mary-Margaret Humes, and her on-again-off-again marriage to Mitch shows that relationship hurdles never stop, no matter how much the people involved grow up.

Before she got into acting, Humes began as a model. She was named Miss Florida and entered the Miss USA pageant in 1975, taking third runner up. She started making guest appearances on several television series not long after, and also appeared in films like "History of the World: Part I" as Miriam and "Eerie, Indiana" as the main character's mother.

Since "Dawson's Creek" came to an end, Humes has had a relatively low-key acting career. She still occasionally makes guest appearances on television series, but her bread-and-butter gig seems to be Hallmark Channel movies, including "Winter Love Story," "A Valentine's Match," and "Christmas in Love."

Nina Repeta - Bessie Potter

Bessie, Joey's older sister, had to be strong at a very early age. Without parents to rely on, Bessie had to essentially act as a mother for Joey when she was still a teenager. Played by actress Nina Repeta, Bessie balanced being a young adult and acting as a good support system for Joey.

Repeta has a pretty bare list of credited roles, but she still is an active actress and works in other areas of the entertainment industry. She occasionally makes guest appearances on shows like "The Originals," and she's popped up as a background character in a few big movies, like "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run."

Repeta seems to focus more of her energy on music. She has an impressive vocal range and mostly performs classic blues and standards. Her son, Michael Banks Repeta, also seems to have caught the acting bug from his mother. Even though he's still fairly young, he's appeared in major productions like "The Outsider," "Lovecraft Country," and "The Devil All the Time."

John Wesley Shipp - Mitch Leery

Dawson's father, Mitch, goes through quite a few ups and downs during his run on "Dawson's Creek." Played by veteran actor John Wesley Shipp, Mitch has enough charm, old-school good looks, and dark secrets to make him every bit as compelling and memorable as the younger focuses of the series.

Shipp has found a home on a number of series over his career. Besides "Dawson's Creek," he had recurring roles on "Teen Wolf" as Mr. Lahey and "One Life to Live" as Eddie Ford. Shipp is probably best known for his recent roles on the Arrowverse shows on The CW. He first appeared on "The Flash" as Henry Allen and has since made appearances on many other series through various crossover events. It's a role he's fit into very nicely: Shipp actually played Barry Allen (aka The Flash) on the short-lived series all the way back in 1991. No wonder it comes so naturally to him!

Meredith Monroe - Andie McPhee

Another important character in "Dawson's Creek" who didn't show up until the second season is Andie, sister to Jack McPhee. Played by actress Meredith Monroe, Andie is innocent and enthusiastic by nature, even in the face of the extreme hardships her family goes through.

Over the years since "Dawson's Creek" came to an end, Meredith Monroe has carved out a pretty impressive career just from appearances on various series. She occasionally lands recurring roles, but you've most likely seen her in a single-episode guest role somewhere or another. "The Closer," "NCIS," "The Mentalist," "Bones," and more are all some of the guest spots where you may have caught Meredith Monroe.

If you're looking for some of Monroe's more substantial roles, you might recognize her as Haley Hotchner from "Criminal Minds." Her run on the show ended in 2013. More recently, she appeared in the film "The Edge of Seventeen" as Greer, and she also has a substantial role on "13 Reasons Why" as Carolyn Standall.

Busy Philipps - Audrey Liddell

Actress Busy Philipps joined the "Dawson's Creek" party pretty late; her character, Audrey Liddell, didn't show up until the show's fifth season. Still, she became a central character over the show's final two seasons as Joey's friend and college roommate. By the time she appeared on "Dawson's Creek," she'd already picked up some name recognition from the excellent "Freaks and Geeks."

Busy Philipps has had an impressive career in the years since "Dawson's Creek," and she's also used her celebrity to address social issues that are important to her. The role she's probably best known for these days is Laurie Keller on Cougar Town, but she's also had recurring roles on shows like "ER" and "Vice Principals," as well as one-off appearances on hit shows like "Search Party," "New Girl," and "Arrested Development." Philipps has also appeared in a number of films, often in smaller supporting roles. Look for her in "White Chicks," "Made of Honor," "The Gift," and "I Feel Pretty." She also hosted the E! Talk show "Busy Tonight" from 2018-2019.

Philipps is a major advocate for abortion rights, and started the hashtag #youknowme to encourage women to share their stories and help eliminate the stigma of abortions. She shared that she had an abortion at age 15, and has helped to raise awareness and fight against state laws that restrict the procedure.

Dylan Neal - Doug Witter

Perhaps better known as "Dougie" or "Deputy Doug," Pacey Witter's annoyingly straight-laced big brother Doug appeared in just 20 episodes over the series' primetime run. However, few characters maximized their screen time quite as much.

The character was played by Dylan Neal, with the actor positively displaying the self-righteousness of an older sibling, who also played the part of a pseudo father figure in his younger brother's life. The actor has, however, spent much of his post-"Creek" career conveying charm on the small screen instead, doing so initially as Sabrina Spellman's almost-husband Aaron Jacobs on "Sabrina the Teenage Witch." Over the years, Neal has also appeared in hit series like "Psych," "The L Word," "Smallville," and "Bones," among others, though "Arrow" fans no doubt recognize him as Dr. Anthony Ivo.

In recent years, Neal has become a regular player on the Hallmark Channel too, a turn that began with a starring role opposite Andie McDowell in the drama series "Cedar Cove." Neal has appeared in several Hallmark projects since, including five episodes of "The Gourmet Detective," which he co-created for the network alongside his wife Becky Southwell, and "Christmas She Wrote," which he starred in alongside Danica McKellar.

Sasha Alexander - Gretchen Witter

It hardly feels like the case, but Pacey Witter's big sis Gretchen logged just as many episodes as big brother, Doug. That's, in part, because her "Dawson's Creek" stint was fairly protracted, with Gretchen turning up in Season 4, and making her exit by season's end. Despite the one-season-and-done arc, Sasha Alexander shined in the role, and more than left her mark on the series.

"Dawson's Creek" was Alexander's first real break in Hollywood, though she had fronted "Creek" creator Kevin Williamson's short-lived series "Wasteland" before playing Gretchen Witter. In the years following her series exit, Alexander made notable appearances in major productions like "Mission: Impossible III," "Yes Man," and "He's Just Not That Into You." Still, the actor booked one of the biggest roles of her career in the immediate aftermath of "Dawson's Creek," signing on to play "NCIS" regular Caitlin Todd in 2003.

In 2010, Alexander became the star of her very own series, fronting "Rizzoli and Isles" alongside Angie Harmon for seven full seasons. "Shameless" fans will also surely recall her as Helene Runyon.

Michael Pitt - Henry Parker

Of all the stars who got their start on "Dawson's Creek," few shined brighter in the immediate aftermath of their departure than Michael Pitt. Pitt joined the "Dawson's Creek" cast in Season 3 as Henry Parker, a tender-hearted freshman football player who develops a seriously intense crush on Michelle Williams' Jen Lindley. Though the pair eventually coupled-up, their romance ended for good when Season 3 did, likely because Pitt was fast becoming the toast of the indie film scene.

In fact, Pitt quickly scored major roles in era staples like "Finding Forrester," "Bully," "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," and "The Dreamers." He also went on to share the screen with Ryan Gosling and Sandra Bullock in the underrated thriller "Murder By Numbers," book a minor role in M. Night Shyamalan's "The Village," and terrorize Naomi Watts in the U.S. remake of "Funny Games."

In 2010, Martin Scorsese tabbed Pitt to play Jimmy Darmody in his star-studded gangster drama series "Boardwalk Empire," which Pitt followed with a deeply unsettling turn as Mason Verger on "Hannibal." Unfortunately, the actor has endured struggles both legal, and emotional of late, though he's looking to make a big screen resurgence via a role in the hotly-anticipated bio drama "You Can't Win."   

Monica Keena - Abby Morgan

It's almost shocking to realize how little time Monica Keena actually spent portraying troublemaker Abby Morgan on the set of "Dawson's Creek." However, the series' O.G. mean girl didn't even make it out of the second season. As it was, Keena shared most of her scenes with Michelle Williams, with Abby fanning the simmering "bad girl" flames within Jen Lindley before her shocking Season 2 death.

As Kevin Williamson recently detailed, said death was very much of Keena's making. But the actor did pretty well for herself after leaving "Dawson's Creek" behind, promptly booking roles in teen-centric fare like "Crime and Punishment in Suburubia" (opposite Vincent Kartheiser), and in the Jack Black starring cult comedy "Orange County." She also went on to play the key role of Rachel Lindquist in Judd Apatow's cancelled-too-soon college dramedy "Undeclared." Character arcs on "Entourage," "Grey's Anatomy," "Private Practice," and "Castle" followed Keena between 2004 and 2011.

Keena has worked less frequently since 2013, when alarming personal struggles with her troubled ex Edward Furlong landed her on many a tabloid cover. The actress has rebounded of late, and appears to have a handful of intriguing projects in the works. 

Jensen Ackles - C.J.

Like many of his "Dawson's Creek" co-stars, Jensen Ackles didn't have many screen credits before he joined the series' cast. He had, however, worked for years on "Days of Our Lives," and shared the screen with Jessica Alba in James Cameron's sci-fi series "Dark Angel." Needless to say, he was hardly a newb when he signed up to play Bay College helpline hunk C.J. Braxton in Season 6. Ackles no doubt needed to leverage those years of experience as he was regularly sharing the screen with more seasoned "Creek" stars like Michelle Williams and Kerr Smith.

A look at Ackles' post-"Creek" credits will confirm the show served as a professional springboard, with the actor soon signing up to play football coach turned villain Jason Teague in Season 4 of "Smallville." He followed that gig with a celebrated run as Dean Winchester on the iconic fantasy series "Supernatural." Ackles would, of course, play that role for 15 seasons before it finally left the airwaves. Most recently, Ackles joined the cast of the hit superhero satire "The Boys." I you've seen him as old school "supe" Soldier Boy on the show, you know the role rivals his work on "Supernatural." 

Oliver Hudson - Eddie Doling

With the Capeside gang going co-ed for Seasons 5 and 6 of "Dawson's Creek," an influx of new faces made their way into the mix. The influx of new characters included actor Oliver Hudson, who turned up as Eddie Doling, the literary-minded beau of Joey Potter (Katie Holmes). Though fans may have tired a bit of their on-again, off-again romance, few could argue Hudson didn't bring some serious intellectual, and emotional heat to the proceedings.

Hudson is part of a Hollywood brood that includes Bill Hudson, Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell, Kate Hudson, and Wyatt Russell, so acting is buried deep in his DNA. While "Dawson's Creek" was one of his biggest early roles, it was hardly his last. Hudson would go on to appear in the 2006 remake of "Black Christmas," and land a recurring role in the long-running, Adam Sandler sitcom "Rules of Engagement," starring alongside Patrick Warburton and David Spade.

The actor would follow that with a three season run as label boss Jeff Fordham on "Nashville," and score a steady gig on Ryan Murphy's "Scream Queens." In 2018, he starred with stepdad Kurt Russell in "The Christmas Chronicles." Most recently, he appeared in the "Sex and the City" sequel "And Just Like That." 

Ken Marino - Professor David Wilder

By the time Ken Marino made his way to Capeside, he'd actually made a bit of a name for himself in Hollywood circles, having appeared on numerous hit sitcoms from the '90s. He also earned fans for his work in the sketch comedy series "The State," and the cult comedy sensation "Wet Hot American Summer." Given his largely comedic background, it was a bit of a surprise that his "Dawson's Creek" role as Professor David Wilder was a touch more serious. Marino showed some unexpected range, playing the charming English teacher who briefly wooed the lit-loving Joey Potter.

Marino has continued to show that range in dozens of projects over the years. If you've been tracking Marino's career, you know those projects are too numerous to even consider covering in detail. Heck, his list of highlights is probably too lengthy to explore in depth here. Nevertheless, it's safe to say one of Marino's more baffling post-"Creek" gigs came in 2009 when he reprised the role of David Wilder in an episode of "Californication." Among the actor's more legit highlights, however, would have to be his recurring role as sleazy private detective Vinnie Van Lowe on "Veronica Mars," and his sub-iconic turn as Ron Donald in the beloved service and entertainment industry insider comedy "Party Down."