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The Meredith Monroe Doctrine

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She may be having a public breakdown as Dawson’s Creek‘s increasingly unstable Andie McPhee, but Meredith Monroe is keeping the Method to her character’s madness all to herself. ”I don’t like to talk about that,” she says when asked how she prepared for Andie’s descent from perky teen to basket case. ”It’s a little superstition — like the baseball player who wears the same jockstrap every game because he thinks he’s going to get a home run.”

All righty, then. Whatever her strategy, Monroe brought a boatload of spunk to Creek last fall as the love interest of town clown Pacey Witter. ”She has this charm and humor and talent wrapped up in an adorable package,” says exec producer Paul Stupin. For the 22-year-old, joining the Capeside crew in Wilmington, N.C., was a bizarro experience. ”I was a fan before I got the job, so it just seemed so unreal,” she says. ”It was like, ‘Wow, I’m going to be working with Joey and Dawson.”’

Like her sought-after costars, Monroe is using her summer hiatus to further her big-screen career — she’s playing Hadley, a coed caught up in a murder in the MGM drama Mary Jane’s Last Dance. ”I don’t think anyone visualizes me the way Hadley is,” says Monroe, who’s engaged to an L.A.-based massage therapist. ”Andie’s proper and preppy, and Hadley is classic and sexy.”

They don’t come much more classic than Laura Ingalls Wilder, whom the Texas-born Monroe portrays in the CBS movie Beyond the Prairie: The True Story of Laura Ingalls Wilder. ”It was such a passionate script, everything came alive to me,” says the actress, who’s frustrated Prairie has yet to air (CBS hasn’t set a date but says the movie will run). ”I’m seeing these ads for Joan of Arc. It’s like, wait, where’s Laura?”

More important, what’s going to happen to fragile Andie now that she’s having visions of — and talking to — her dead brother, Tim? Fans can expect Andie’s estranged dad to make some tough choices about her, but don’t try to get the details from the tight-lipped Monroe. ”I can’t tell too much,” she hedges. ”But the decision changes all of our lives.”

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