PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: James Van Der Beek, Star of Screen and Geffen Playhouse's The Gift

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19 Feb 2013

James Van Der Beek
James Van Der Beek

Stage and screen actor James Van Der Beek, currently appearing in the American premiere of The Gift at Geffen Playhouse, fills out's questionnaire of random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.

Van Der Beek is making his L.A. stage debut, having made his New York bow 19 years earlier in Edward Albee's Finding the Sun at the Signature Theater.

Other stage credits include My Marriage to Ernest Borgnine at the Vineyard Theater, Shenandoah at the Goodspeed Opera House and Lanford Wilson's Rain Dance, also at the Signature.

For six years he played the title character on the hit TV show "Dawson's Creek." His many film credits include "Varsity Blues" (MTV Movie Award), "The Rules of Attraction" and "Formosa Betrayed." He will next be seen on the big screen in the upcoming Jason Reitman film "Labor Day."


Full given name: James David Van Der Beek
Where you were born/where you were raised: Raised in Cheshire, CT
Zodiac Sign:Pisces
What your parents did/do for a living:Dad was a minor league pitcher before I was born, then worked for the phone company.

Mom was a dancer before I was born, then taught at her own gymnastics studio.
Siblings:Jared and Juliana. I'm the oldest.
Special skills: Baseball, martial arts, and asking if you need help with the dishes when they're almost done.
Something you're REALLY bad at: Basketball
First Broadway show you ever saw: Guys and Dolls with Nathan Lane and Faith Prince
If you could go back in time and catch any Broadway show, what would it be? I've heard so many great stories about Richard Burton, John Barrymore... would love to see them on the boards.
Did you have any particular mentors or inspirations when first starting out? I've had so many, but Michael Park and Marc Kudisch both adopted me as their little brother and let me crash on their couches so many times I probably owe them rent.
Some favorite musicals: I had a music teacher in 7th grade play us Jesus Christ Superstar - first musical I ever heard - and it blew me away.
The one performance – attended - that you will never forget: Elaine Stritch in Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance. I had just gotten back from backpacking around Europe, and that production reminded me that I in fact did still want to be an actor.
Music that makes you cry, any genre: Jeff Buckley's cover of "Hallelujah" usually gets me every time.
You personal acting idols: Growing up, I always thought I wanted a career like Mandy Patinkin's... but then I got really famous at 20 and screwed that plan up royally wink
MAC or PC? So MAC-dependent it's frightening.
Most-visited websites: Twitter, for sure.
Last book you read: "7 Days in the Art World" by Sarah Thornton. Fascinating read.
Must-see TV show(s): The first season of "The Wire" is probably the best TV ever shot.
Last good movie you saw: Woody Allen's "Interiors" - had never seen it. Blew me away.
Some films you consider classics: "Days of Heaven"
"All the President's Men"
"Children of Men"

(am I giving away my age?)

Pop culture guilty pleasure: My two-year old daughter and I have not missed an episode of "Smash." She's spellbound when they sing, dance or yell at each other.
Favorite cities: New York, Paris and Wilmington, NC
First stage or screen kiss: Melissa Joan Hart on Nickelodeon's "Clarissa Explains it All"
Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living: At 13, singing "Alone at a Drive-in Movie" as Danny Zuko in my hometown's children's production of Grease.
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