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The Untold Truth Of Joshua Jackson

Joshua Jackson first made his mark in 1992's "The Mighty Ducks," before catapulting to fame with his iconic performance as Pacey Witter on The WB's teen soap, "Dawson's Creek." He's been a television staple ever since, and Jackson's other small-screen acting credits include starring roles on the series' "Fringe" and "The Affair," as well as parts in the high-profile miniseries' "Little Fires Everywhere" and "When They See Us."

In addition to his television roles, Jackson has dabbled in film -– most notably earlier in his career when he appeared in movies such as "Cruel Intentions," "Gossip," and "The Skulls." But it seems as though television is his preference, as emphasized by his recent work on Peacock. Jackson stars in "Dr. Death," where he portrays the titular character (whose actual name is Dr. Christopher Duntsch), a narcissistic –- and possibly sociopathic -– Texas surgeon who was charged with medical malpractice after botching 33 spinal surgeries.

Even though he grew up largely in the public eye, Jackson keeps a relatively low profile, and many do not know how interesting his life has been. From parental abandonment to young fame to his current state of romantic bliss, there is a lot of depth to Jackson's life experiences. Here is the untold truth of Joshua Jackson.

He got kicked out of multiple high schools

In a 2018 appearance on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," Jackson discussed his struggles in school -– and the role that one famous late night host played in his expulsion. The actor explained that he was kicked out of high school twice -– the first time because he booked "The Mighty Ducks," which his school did not appreciate, despite it being an art school. The second time Jackson got expelled was due to a slew of missed classes, which he sees as at least partially the fault of late night host Jon Stewart.

"He's the reason I got thrown out of my second high school," Jackson said of Stewart, joking that he had to become an actor because he spent so much time watching "The Jon Stewart Show" that he was asked to leave school and had no other options. "So, he's getting rebroadcast, but I don't know why, they put it on at 1:30," he told Colbert. "So, I would stay up every night to watch the 1:30 show, which kept me up until 2:30, which meant that clearly I wasn't going to make my first class –- and so I just didn't." Eventually, the missed classes stacked up enough that there was no coming back from it.

He has been acting since he was a teenager – but feels like he's in his best era

Jackson's first acting credit was in 1991, so he's been acting for the bulk of his life. It was at the early age of 14 that he scored his breakout role in Disney's "The Mighty Ducks," which was only his third job. Despite starting as an early teen, Jackson sees his current era as the best one he has had. "You try to make it look like it happens accidentally," he said in a July 2021 Mr. Porter interview. "but there is no way to do this and not be ambitious. I'd say I'm extremely ambitious because I've been doing this cutthroat job for nearly 30 years. I'm in the pay-off phase of my career now. One of the benefits of surviving for as long as I have is you get to learn from your own mistakes."

For Jackson, that has sometimes meant jumping back into work before he was fully ready. For instance, he told Collider in 2015 that he accepted his role in Showtime's television series "The Affair" despite it interfering with his planned downtime after his five seasons on Fox's "Fringe." "My intention was to take a good year off, and just be off and be back in my day-to-day life. And then, I read this script and it was fantastic and undeniable," he said.

Joshua Jackson once dyed his hair in protest of a TV network

On "Dawson's Creek," Jackson quickly learned the responsibilities of being a teen star –- responsibilities that included not changing his look between seasons, as requested by producers and The WB. Ever the boy who skipped school to stay up late watching Jon Stewart, Jackson chose not to play by the rules of the network. "I had dyed my hair, sort of in protest, because it was annoying how much The WB always wanted to be on top of our follicles," he said in a YouTube video for Esquire magazine. "So, I dyed my hair fire engine red, but after two weeks of break, it kind of ended up looking like a blond grapefruit."

Hair color is not the only way Jackson rebelled on set. In an interview with Conan O'Brien from 2000, his "Dawson's Creek" co-star (and ex-girlfriend) Katie Holmes reported that Jackson would moon the cast and crew rather frequently. "I think he thinks he is really doing a service to everyone," Holmes joked. Years later, he'd get paid to be nude on Showtime's "The Affair."

He struggled with early fame and fortune

Jackson's "Dawson's Creek" success and quick rise to fame saw him struggle with his new life -– particularly the financial aspect. "Suddenly, at 19 years old, I was making more in a week than most of my friends' parents would make in a year," Jackson recently said in an interview with Mr. Porter. "It was lovely to have the money, but it was that feeling of nobody is worth that kind of money. You feel like a fraud and it took me a long time to forgive myself for not being the thing that I was perceived as."

When it comes to the fame part of the equation, Jackson seems to have had an easier time adapting. "It's transitory," he said in that same interview. "You're only ever cool for a moment and then you become much less cool. I was always pretty dubious about flatterers." His fame has only increased but, unlike many teen idols, Jackson has been good about keeping out of trouble.

He immediately hit it off with his wife, who was the one to propose marriage

Jackson and Jodie Turner-Smith were first reported as a couple in November 2018, after being caught having lunch and holding hands (via People), and they have an adorable relationship. She even trolls him with t-shirts featuring his "Dawson's Creek" character. When they met, both had an immediate attraction, which led to them moving at a rapid pace. "First of all, I saw him before he saw me, and when I saw him, I was like, 'I want that,'" Turner-Smith said on "Late Night with Seth Meyers" in May 2021. "And then when he saw me, I just pretended like I didn't see him."

The couple is not caught up with tradition -– and perhaps the strongest evidence for that is the fact that Turner-Smith was the one to propose. In a July 2021 appearance on "The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon," Jackson talked about the proposal with Fallon, recalling "She asked me. Yeah, on New Year's Eve. We were in Nicaragua. It was very beautiful, incredibly romantic. We were walking down the beach, and she asked me to marry her." Jackson had no idea the proposal was coming, but he told Fallon that his marriage is "the best choice I ever made." The couple got married in December 2019 and welcomed a daughter in April 2020 (via People).

Jackson loves fatherhood and says it changed him

Being a father is something Jackson has spoken of repeatedly and passionately since the birth of his child in April 2020, in the midst of filming "Dr. Death" and a global pandemic. In July 2021, he told US magazine that, "A whole new world of things has just opened up to me in experiencing fatherhood and this magical, joyful, chaotic, stressful anxiety-inducing love that you did not know you had the capacity for." Jackson also credits the love of his young family for his ability to take on such a tough role as someone so irredeemable. "I think honestly, having my family there with me was fantastic, because to go home, kiss my wife, hold the baby and not be a truly, truly horrendous human being when I got home at night was a great tonic," he said on "Entertainment Tonight."

Jackson's family will surely impact his acting career going forward, as he sees his wife and daughter at the ultimate priority. "It's 100 per cent changed how I approach my work and my life," he told Mr. Porter. "That has been made so clear to me in this past year. For me to feel good about what I'm doing day to day, my family has to be the central focus." It was certainly a big focus on his recent press tour –- like when he gushed over baby photos on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon."

He gets recognized for Dawson's Creek by fans who are just now watching

"Dawson's Creek" may be more than two decades in the rearview mirror, but its legacy looms large for Jackson. "I'm in this phase of my career where all kids are like, 'I think I've heard of "Dawson's Creek." My mom really liked that show," he said on Variety's "The Big Ticket" podcast. It isn't just their parents, though — some younger people are becoming fans of the show as well, thanks in large part to reruns.

"I shouldn't admit that I am this old, but my friend's kids have now discovered it in reruns," he told James Corden on "The Late Late Show" in 2015. Around the same time, he talked with "Entertainment Tonight" about the impact of reruns on how younger generations know him, telling reporters "I have noticed friends of mine's children, like teen and preteen children, suddenly being like, 'Oh! You're an actor! That's what you do for a living!' Yeah, it lives forever. I'm glad all my awkward teen years are preserved for all time." He also said he hoped the show would be dead and buried by the time he had kids.

Joshua Jackson's not keen on a Dawson's Creek reunion

Since it seems that just about every show from the 1990s and early 2000s is coming back to the airwaves in some capacity, it is only natural that people would push for a "Dawson's Creek" reunion. But while some fans may be on board, Jackson himself remains unconvinced. In a 2019 IMDb video, he admitted that people always ask him about rebooting the popular teen show, but said that he is not interested.

For what it's worth, the "Dawson's Creek" cast –- including Jackson –- did reconvene back in 2018 for a 20th-anniversary feature in Entertainment Weekly, but it seems that the reunification road ends there. "I don't know why you'd want to [bring it back]," he said in a July 2021 Mr. Porter interview. "Nobody needs to know what those characters are doing in middle age. We left them in a nice place. Nobody needs to see that Pacey's back hurts. I don't think we need that update."

He purchased and lives in his childhood home

Jackson is very proud of his Canadian roots –- his Instagram is @vancityjax, after all –- but he spent a good chunk of his early life in California. Shortly after his birth in Vancouver, British Columbia, he moved to Topanga, California, and he remained there until the age of eight (per Entertainment Tonight Canada). When his parents divorced, Jackson moved back to Vancouver, where he was raised by his mother, Fiona, a casting director. He has talked about his estranged father in numerous interviews, once telling Canadian talk show host George Stroumboulopoulos about how his father, John, came to see him backstage when he was starring in a play in London in 2005, after 20 years of absence.

Despite some tough family memories, Jackson purchased his childhood home in Topanga in 2001, and he now lives there with his wife and daughter. "My father unfortunately was not a good father or a husband and exited the scene, but that house in Topanga was where everything felt simple, so it was a very healing thing for me to do," he recalled in an interview with Mr. Porter. He also said that his daughter slept in his old room, which remained eerily similar to how it had been when he was a child. "There was a mural of a dragon on the wall in that room that I couldn't believe was still there, years later," he said. "The owner said, 'I knew it meant a lot to somebody and that they were going to come back for it someday.'"

Jackson learned sign language for a role on Broadway

Jackson played the role of James Leeds –- a speech teacher who falls in love with one of his deaf students –- in the 2018 Broadway revival of the play "Children of a Lesser God." Because his character communicates in both spoken and signed English, Jackson had to learn sign language for the role, which took him about a year. "There are two different languages that get used by Deaf people," he explained on "LIVE with Kelly & Ryan." "I learned Signed English which is our language just translated into signs, and then there's ASL which is what Deaf people use for Deaf people, which is much more complicated."

Even though he learned enough sign language to get by in his Broadway debut, Jackson still made errors -– sometimes on stage. "I have made some spectacular mistakes, yeah," he told Stephen Colbert on "The Late Show." "So, I'm in the middle of a scene with (co-star Lauren Ridloff), and I was supposed to say the line, 'Yesterday, I had a lousy visit with your mother'. But what I said was, 'Yesterday, I had a lousy f–k with your mother'." Despite the slip-up, Jackson's performance was met with strong acclaim, earning him a 2018 Drama League Award nomination for Distinguished Performance.

He tried not to judge his character in "Dr. Death"

"The story of Christopher Duntsch –- or the story of 'Dr. Death' -– the outcomes that this man had in surgeries were so spectacularly bad, and he is, at the surface level, just a patently evil person for having done this to other human bodies," Jackson said in a video for Esquire magazine. "So, the hardest part was to get out of my own judgment of him and try to see him as a human being."

Jackson also discussed this hurdle in an interview with Collider, in which he said he had to remove judgment in order to try to understand the character's narcissism. "He thinks he's the hero of this story. Right? So, the outcomes are totally evil, and it is unconscionable that this man was allowed to continue to create this much chaos and pain in people's lives," he said. "But from the inside, he sees himself as the victim of circumstance. And that disconnect from reality, I found really compelling."

Even though he was able to see all facets of his character, Jackson still internalized Duntsch's worst qualities. "It's hard to not feel guilt for the effect of his actions in the world," he confessed to Vanity Fair in July 2021. "And particularly, as we got into the latter stages of filming Duntsch at his absolute worst as a sociopathic narcissist, playing those scenes where you are just completely disconnected from the effect that he had was not a pleasant psychological space to live in for six months."

He had to study up on surgeries and surgical tools for "Dr. Death"

In "Dr. Death," Jackson plays a narcissistic neurosurgeon known for botching spinal surgeries and leaving patients disabled or deceased. Coincidentally, Jackson has been dealing with spine issues of his own –- an extruded disc imposing on a nerve at its root –- and has been doing all that he can to avoid spinal surgery. His aversion to surgery comes as no surprise, given the story he's been tasked with telling and the research he has had to do to tell such a story.

Jackson's pre-role work involved going into hospitals and watching actual spine surgeries. "And I'm telling you, even when it's done well, I don't want it done to me," he said in a Vanity Fair interview. "I had access to the actual surgical theaters, so I witnessed most of the surgeries. And then we had a med tech, a spinal surgeon who was available to us in the prep process, and then was there for all of the surgeries, who taught me the basics of the tools that I was using, and also how to suture in — just basically how to fake my way through the process of each one of those surgeries."

Jackson has a pragmatic take on sex scenes

Given that he is both good-looking and charismatic, Jackson is often cast in roles requiring him to get romantic with scene partners, and he looks at love scenes matter-of-factly. In a 2014 interview with Elle magazine, Jackson compared filming sex scenes to filming fight scenes, both of which require a great deal of discussion and coordination. Nonetheless, when Ellen DeGeneres asked Jackson about his graphic sex scenes in "The Affair," he did admit to the innate nuttiness of it all. "And then there's just the weirdness of a job –- a profession -– where you're like, 'Hi, my name's Josh, we're going to get naked, then we're going to have sex, then we're going to talk about how it feels afterwards,'" he said on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show."

Sex scenes in Hollywood are always highly choreographed so as to decrease the awkwardness for actors, and to ensure that everyone feels comfortable. For Jackson, this is crucial for not only his security, but that of his female co-stars. "You're putting a woman in a very vulnerable place when you're doing scenes like this so the more upfront about it you can be and the more choreographed it can be, the less opportunity there is for awkwardness or anything else bad to happen in that space," he told Elle. "For a man, walking around in your boxers or even those stupid codpieces they give us is one thing. But for a woman to be completely exposed on a film set is an uncomfortable space. So, you try to get it done as damage-free as possible."

He doesn't want to do a 22-episode season of TV again

"Dawson's Creek" was Jackson's first stab at a television show, and the grueling pace nearly stopped him from wanting to act. "Actually, at that time in my life what I wanted to do was not be an actor. I was quite burnt out. It's a lot of work. And on that show we were doing 22 episodes a year. It's a grind," he detailed in an interview with Elle. "Truthfully, the process of making 22 episode of television a year is not very pleasant. I just wanted to stop." Starring in a play in London -– David Mamet's "A Life In The Theatre" with Sir Patrick Stewart –- reconvinced Jackson that acting was the right path for him.

Despite not loving the slog of broadcast network television, Jackson took another shot at it with "Fringe," which began in 2008. After that show was finished, he took a six month break to once again recuperate. "I was just burnt out. The time frame was more condensed, but I went six months and didn't read a script, didn't think about, and didn't want to really talk about it," he told Collider in 2015.

And when doing press for Showtime's "The Affair," which had 10 episodes per season, he also made it clear that he is not itching to get back to his broadcast network roots. "I would like to not ever do 22 episodes again. I would really love to not do that," he said in an interview with IndieWire in 2015. "Beyond the physical grind of doing 22 episodes a year, there's an attention to detail that you can have at 10 or 12 or 13 episodes or whatever it ends up being that I just don't think is possible for the human mind at 22 episodes."