James Van Der Beek

Plucked from obscurity to become an instant heartthrob, James Van Der Beek played the earnest, hypersensitive high school kid Dawson Leery on the seminal teen soap "Dawson's Creek" (The WB, 1998-2003). The weekly foibles of Dawson and his adolescently-charged, anachronistically savvy friends made breakout stars of Van Der Beek, Katie Holmes, Michelle Williams and Joshua Jackson. It provided the actor with a launchpad for roles in youth-targeted movies, among them "Varsity Blues" (1999), "Texas Rangers" (2001) and "Rules of Attraction" (2002). After "Dawson" shuttered, Van Der Beek found consistent project work difficult to come by. He ramped his screen presence back up in the late 2000s, scoring star billings in the NBC miniseries "The Storm" (2009) and buzz-worthy indie project in "Formosa Betrayed" (2010), capped by his mid-season casting on the NBC medical drama "Mercy" (2009-2010) and playing a version of himself on the hotly anticipated sitcom "Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23" (ABC, 2012-13). Amid a career renaissance of sorts, Van Der Beek still remained inexorably tied in the public mind to his central role in The WB Generation's most iconic coming-of-age tale.