By Sandra Gonzalez
July 27, 2011 at 11:17 PM EDT
Danny Feld/TNT

James Van Der Beek and Mark-Paul Gosselaar will appear together on television for the first time in tonight’s episode of Franklin & Bash. And if you think it’s wrong that the two former teen icons (and sort-of doppelgangers) have never collided, join the club, Van Der Beek tells EW.

“After years of being confused for one another, we actually met. I always thought we were the same person. It wasn’t until I saw him on set that I realized we weren’t,” he jokes. Van Der Beek guests tonight on an episode that finds Peter (Gosselaar) representing his ex-girlfriend’s fiancé after he is accused of solicitation. “What’s funny is that the more [our characters] talked, the more we found out how similar we are. It trips us both out,” says Van Der Beek. “There’s a line that Breckin Meyer’s character has in the episode where he says, ‘Well, clearly Janie has a type.'” 

For the purposes of this role, Van Der Beek is what he calls “a buttoned-up” guy, a far cry from the character viewers will be seeing in ABC’s fall comedy, Apartment 23, in which he plays a spoof of himself. Don’t look for any of his Van Der Memes, however, in either role. “The memes were something that were tossed out on an afternoon — I’d forgotten,” Van Der Beek says, laughing heartily. “But I guess they were put out there and they’re not going away — which is just fine. But they don’t enter into my work process at all.” The hilarious Funny or Die spot did give way to unexpected job offers, though.

“After the Funny or Die stuff came out, I started getting offers for comedies. The drama, you expect because that’s what I’ve done before. But the comedies, getting offers for that, was a new experience and one I relish,” he said. “I like being a guest star because you can jump in and do something really different and then you’re done. Then you go do something else.”

Van Der Beek’s episode airs tonight on TNT at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

Follow Sandra on Twitter @EWSandraG

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