James Van Der Beek has some clear comedic guidelines about the person he refers to as “fake JVDB.”
That acronym stands for “fake James Van Der Beek,” which is Van Der Beek’s character on Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23.
The sitcom returns for its second season Monday, Oct. 21 on Citytv, and then a day later on its network of origin in the United States, ABC.
“For us, the whole formula, or rather the ingredients, the recipe, is to make sure that No. 1, nobody is ever really feeling sorry for me,” Van Der Beek said. “Because if you’re feeling bad for me, you’re not laughing.
“So as long as that’s not happening, we can go as far in the other direction as we want.”
Van Der Beek, of course, is best known for playing Dawson Leery on Dawson’s Creek, which aired from 1998 to 2003.
In Don’t Trust the B, Van Der Beek – who is behind the bar in the cast picture above – plays a fictionalized version of his present-day self, who happens to be friends with lead character Chloe, played by Krysten Ritter.
“What’s great about this show is that it’s really anchored by the two girls (Ritter and Dreama Walker, as June),” Van Der Beek said. “So it gives me a long leash to venture into bizarro land.
“We experimented with how far we can take it before people go, ‘Oooohhhh.’ And what we kind of touched upon is, we can be as narcissistic as we want to be, and we can have really bad things happen to him, as long as this fake version of me is talented. Even if he’s talented in a savant-ish way, you know?
“He’s borderline Rain Man when it comes to stuff like acting or dancing or whatever. But as long as he’s good at everything generally, then we can have all sorts of hijinks and pratfalls.”
In the second-season premiere of Don’t Trust the B, James goes against Chloe’s advice and starts investigating the possibility of a Dawson’s Creek reunion. Busy Philipps – a Dawson’s Creek alumnus – makes a cameo appearance in the episode, as do Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Frankie Muniz.
Asked about the prospect of a real-life Dawson’s Creek reunion, Van Der Beek just shook his head.
“Honestly, the only time we talk about it is when you guys (reporters) ask about it,” he said. “Everybody asks every single one of us at every single press thing, and it’s the only time we talk about it.”
Indeed, the heyday of Dawson’s Creek – which also featured the likes of Katie Holmes, Michelle Williams and Joshua Jackson – is a long time ago now. But both the real and fake James Van Der Beeks are doing just fine, courtesy of Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23.
“This fake me is kind of lovably pompous and very self-absorbed,” Van Der Beek said. “When you pop that bubble, I kind of like those moments. I love it when the rug is pulled out from under him.
“If I didn’t have a sense of humour about myself, this would be the saddest job I’ve ever had.”