DON'T TRUST THE B- IN APARTMENT 23: James Van Der Beek on Getting Feedback Pre-Premiere, Playing Himself and More - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

DON’T TRUST THE B—- IN APARTMENT 23: James Van Der Beek on Getting Feedback Pre-Premiere, Playing Himself and More

April 11, 2012 by  

Comedy pilots have the tendency to be rough, but I’m obsessed with the new ABC series DON’T TRUST THE B—- IN APARTMENT 23.

Sure, the central conflict of the series does appear to be wrapped up in the pilot, but trust me, it’s not. (I’ve seen two episodes beyond what airs tonight.) Krysten Ritter’s Chloe is appallingly terrible, but often not intentionally (or at least not maliciously). And, of course, the series has James Van Der Beek playing…James Van Der Beek.

I hopped on the phone with Van Der Beek to talk about the show finally premiering, playing himself, and what viewers can expect from the fictionalized version of JVDB…

You guys finished shooting the first season a while ago, didn’t you?
James Van Der Beek: Yeah. We shot all 13 episodes. So now we’re just excited to share it with everybody.

Have there been any nerves this week? Like, “Oh, wow, it’s finally going to be on the air”?
JVDB: It just started [Sunday] occurring to me that all this excitement and all this potential is going to come to fruition this week. But I think it’s good, it’s healthy, to shoot all of a first season in a vacuum, because you’re just there and in the thought of season 1 and completing that arc. We just went for what was funniest and got to do it.

You’re also in an interesting position because many people have already watched the first two episodes early. (ABC released them on Hulu and iTunes.) What kind of feedback have you heard from viewers?
JVDB: The feedback has been amazing. It’s been better than I really could have hoped. They’ve been so nice and responding positively to the show.  It’s nice to know it’s not just us that thinks it’s funny. We all love it. I’ve seen a number of episodes and I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out. But then you always look at each other and go, well, are we just freaks? [Laughs] Do we just have a really twisted sense of humor or are other people going to respond to this as well?

Your costar Krysten Ritter tweeted a couple days ago that the pilot already had over a million views, so that’s a great start.
JVDB: That’s a great start, yeah.

You’re playing yourself on the show, so the DAWSON’S CREEK angle of your career would be the easy joke to make —
JVDB: Right.

But were there any other jokes about a particular job you’re excited for people to see?
JVDB: Yeah. We very quickly — after episode 2 — we moved away from the DAWSON’S stuff and this guy became a character we made up. We started making up things in my resume that aren’t there. [Laughs] It became our way to make fun of Hollywood and actors and pop culture just in general.

The fake me goes on the fake DANCING WITH THE STARS at one point. I release a line of super tight jeans — way tighter than God ever intended jeans to be worn. A sex tape gets released inadvertently and I decide to run with it. At one point, I need to play an 11-year-old girl, so I study how to do that with Kiernan Shipka, from MAD MEN, who plays herself. [Laughs]

JVDB: Yeah, we really just ran with it.

There’s an arc in the second episode where the fictional Van Der Beek gets frustrated that no matter what he does, everyone just wants to hear DAWSON’S CREEK lines from him. Was that therapeutic for you to be like, “Yes, fine, I’ll always be tied to this show, but I’m more than that”?
JVDB: [Laughs] Therapeutic? What’s therapeutic for me is chipping away at the ego every day. The less seriously you take yourself, the better your work will be. So that’s been great. It’s been so much fun to not take myself seriously.

You have been poking fun at yourself for a while. Was that a conscious decision to start doing that, or did an opportunity fall into your lap?
JVDB:  It’s something I’ve always joked about and always made fun of in a way. With friends, even back in the day, if we didn’t get a table immediately, I’d turn to my friends and say, “Do they have any idea who I think I am?” Just as a joke.

So it’s always been part of my sense of humor. Even as I was playing Dawson, during rehearsals to lighten up the crew, I would make the most inappropriate jokes possible. I’d go from being the sweetest human being in the world to something coming out of my mouth that you’d never expect. So it’s always been a part of my sense of humor, but I think pop culture has changed. Now, you can do this and people get it. With Facebook and Twitter, people understand…it’s hard to imagine, but 10 years ago, someone playing themselves in a weekly television series, I don’t know that people would have been ready for it. But now, anything goes.

Excited about the premiere of DON’T TRUST THE B—- IN APARTMENT 23? Don’t forget to tune in to ABC tonight at 9:30 PM and if you’re on Twitter, Van Der Beek will be live-tweeting (he’s @vanderjames over there).

And if you really can’t wait, check out the show’s official website for the first two episodes!

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