Later, Dawson Leery. It was nice knowing you.
James Van Der Beek held a funeral for the character that made him famous on the season two premiere of "Don't Trust the B***** in Apartment 23" Tuesday.
Van Der Beek, who plays a fictionalized version of himself on the ABC sitcom, sought to distance himself from the "Creek" nine years after the series ended after realizing that many of the other cast members -- Michelle Williams, Katie Holmes, Joshua Jackson -- had moved on.
But he needed a little help to finally kick Dawson to the curb, and that came in the form of a motivational speech from fellow teen idol Mark Paul Gosselaar, aka Zach Morris, from "Saved by the Bell."
It was a zany episode but not far from the truth. In real life, Van Der Beek, 35, a father of two young children, struggled for years in Hollywood to break free of "Dawson." His film career stalled, he appeared in television movies and made guest appearances on various shows before embracing his teen-idol past in a number of "Funny or Die" videos, a K$sha music video and his own "Van Der Memes."
Though his character on "Apartment 23" held a funeral for Dawson, Van Der Beek is not opposed to reviving him. Along with stars Michelle Williams and Katie Holmes Van Der Beek has expressed an interest in returning to Capeside but says he knows of no effort to do so.
"I feel like this is the No. 1 question that we get asked. Nobody's producing it, nobody's writing it, it's just something that comes in the press," Van Der Beek told Kelly Ripa in April.
At Comic-Con in July, Williams, who played blonde bad girl Jen Lindley on the 90's show, said she "would happily" take part in a reunion special.
"I've always said that I would really love to and I think independently, we've all been saying that," Williams told reporters.
Holmes, who played "girl next door" Joey Potter, seemed open to a reunion last fall during an appearance on "Good Morning America."
"It would be fun," the 33-year-old told Robin Roberts. "I had so much fun working on that show and I loved everyone so much and I think about it with such fond memories."
"Dawson's Creek," about a close-knit group of teenagers growing up in the fictional seaside town of Capeside, Mass., debuted in 1998 on the WB network and ended in 2003 with the characters in college. It generated buzz for its verbose dialogue and its characters' preoccupation with sex.
Only Joshua Jackson, who starred as Pacey, seemed pessimistic about a possible reunion.
"Well, we killed the show so I don't think that's ever going to happen," Jackson told The Hollywood Reporter. "Never say never. If I'm out of work for enough years, absolutely. We'll be old and gray and nasty by the time [that happens]."
Perhaps, but right now, Van Der Beek's former co-stars are in the prime of their lives and careers. Click through to see what they have been up to since "Dawson's Creek" wrapped.
Like her character Jen, Williams has said she grew up "too fast," becoming emancipated from her parents as a working child actor, leaving school in ninth grade to be home-tutored and landing the role on "Dawson's Creek" by 17. While working on the WB series, she began taking film roles in slasher films and teen comedies before graduating to more challenging independent fare. Williams gained Hollywood's attention -- and her first Oscar nod -- playing Heath Ledger's wife in 2005's "Brokeback Mountain." In real life, Williams went on to have daughter, Matilda, with the late actor before they split. She's now linked with comic actor Jason Segel. Career-wise, she's a member of Hollywood's A-list, having earned two more Oscar nominations, this time for best actress, for "Blue Valentine" and "My Week With Marilyn."
Before landing the breakout role of Joey Potter her senior year of high school, Holmes had already made her foray into films, starting with a minor part in Ang Lee's "The Ice Storm" in 1997. While starring in "Dawson's" and afterward, she appeared in a number of promising roles in movies such as, "Wonder Boys," "Pieces of April" and "First Daughter," but described her film career in 2005 as a series of "bombs" because none of them landed in the top 10. Her role as Rachel Dawes in "Batman Begins" in 2005 was highly criticized and she was replaced by Maggie Gyllenhaal in the sequel. With her career seemingly at a crossroads, Holmes entered another stratosphere with her marriage to Cruise, with whom she has 6-year-old daughter Suri. Now a single mom, Holmes is returning to Broadway in this fall's "Dead Accounts."
Rounding out the original gang of four, Jackson has stayed busy since his long run on "Dawson's Creek." The 34-year-old actor has appeared in more than 32 film roles, including "The Mighty Ducks" franchise. He continues to do television, currently starring in J.J. Abrams "Fringe." Jackson, who briefly dated Holmes early in the show's run, appears often on the red carpet with his girlfriend since 2006, Diane Kruger, with whom he shares homes in Vancouver, Canada, and Paris.
Busy Phillips, who's birth name is Elizabeth Jean, appeared as Audrey Liddell in seasons 5 and 6 of "Dawson's Creek." She went on to perform in mostly comedic roles in films like "White Chicks" and "He's Just Not That Into You." Currently, she plays Courteney Cox's assistant on the ABC sitcom "Cougar Town." Phillips, 33, has stayed close with Williams, who made her Matilda's godmother. She attended this year's Oscar ceremony with her close friend. Married to screenwriter Marc Silverstein in 2007, Phillips gave birth to Birdie Leigh Silverstein, on August 13, 2008.