James Van Der Beek makes his move to film -- The ''Dawson's Creek'' star plays a small town quarterback in ''Varsity Blues''

By Daniel Fierman
Updated January 15, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

James Van Der Beek stinks. it’s not his acting, which is blithely self-assured, or even his personality, which is as genuine as it is mild. It’s an actual malodorous waft which, at least on this May afternoon, radiates from his oft-admired body.

To be fair, of course, it’s not his fault: The Dawson of the WB network’s smash hit Dawson’s Creek has just finished shooting a bone-crunching football scene in the tar-bubbling Taylor, Tex., heat for Varsity Blues. Produced by the team behind 1997’s Good Burger, the film stars Van Der Beek as Jonathan Moxon, a Texas high school backup quarterback who finds himself thrust into small-town stardom when the first-string QB goes down. The movie, which plays like a safe mix of All the Right Moves and North Dallas Forty, is something of a departure for 21-year-old Van Der Beek, who’s honed a wholesome image for himself as Dawson’s Creek‘s sensitive teen cineast. In Varsity, however, he plays a good old boy who gets plastered at strip joints and, in one particularly memorable scene, ends up in a compromising position involving a buxom blond and a lot of well-placed whipped cream.

”I think [my fans] are going to be surprised. Very surprised,” he says. ”I want to be around on screen for a long time, so hopefully, they’ll see me as an actor, not just as Dawson.” In fact, Van Der Beek is treading carefully into movies. While his tube costars Katie Holmes (Disturbing Behavior), Michelle Williams (Halloween: H20), and Joshua Jackson (Urban Legend) have amassed a total of eight movie credits since hitting it big on TV last season, Varsity Blues is Van Der Beek’s only foray onto the big screen since then. ”I wanted to keep it low-key and get as far away from Dawson as I possibly could,” he explains. ”So I put on 15 pounds of muscle, cut my hair, dyed it black, and played football.”

Dawson's Creek

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