May 28, 2003
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Josh Jackson is almost too cheerful talking about the demise of his TV show Dawson’s Creek after six years.
“Finito,” Jackson says over the phone from a Toronto publicity stop. “Muerte. I feel really good.”
Don’t get the man wrong. The Vancouver native, whose last hometown role was 10 years ago in the family-and-seal drama Andre, is grateful for the teen-angst TV drama that turned him and co-stars Katie Holmes and James Van Der Beek into pop-culture fixtures.
The part he’s glad to be done with is spending nine months of every year working in the series in Wilmington, North Carolina. As well, the show suffered when creator Kevin Williamson left after the first two seasons.
“On a purely personal note, it allows me to go back home,” says Jackson. “Also the way it finished up, with Kevin Williamson coming back and writing the grand finale, it was the right way for it to end.”
The WB series ended this month with a two-hour finale.
“It being a show about high school, once we left high school there was no plausible reason why all these people would still be so intimately involved in each other’s lives,” he says. “It had started to rattle apart at the seams and the creative executives at the beginning had left, so it had lost a lot of its thrust. But to finish it off on such a positive note was really wonderful.”
Even working in Wilmington, a resort town of some 30,000 people, had its upside, Jackson recalls.
“I don’t think the show would have been as successful or long-lasting had we been someplace else where there were distractions. If, at 19 years old, you put me on a very popular TV show and we were shooting in L.A., I would have lost my mind. I might have tried not to but there would have been no way for me to maintain my sanity. Even in Vancouver — I would have been a holy terror if I’d have shot at home. I know all the bad things to do in Vancouver.”
Curiously, with all the film work going on in Vancouver, the 25-year-old Jackson hasn’t worked here since he was a teenager. He maintains a place in Kitsilano, his base when he’s not working.
“I’m probably the only working actor in the last decade who hasn’t at some point worked in Vancouver,” he says. “My life in Vancouver is pretty well exclusively home life. I don’t know that many film people.”
He’ll be back in Vancouver early next month, with plans to stay here for the summer, after a driving trip through Colorado.
He was in Toronto three years ago filming The Safety of Objects, an independent drama also starring Glenn Close, Particia Clarkson and Dermot Mulroney. The movie, which follows four suburban families in crisis, is only making its way to theatres now (it opens in Vancouver June 6) after having its premiere at the Toronto film festival on Sept. 10, 2001.
“A bad time for everything,” Jackson recalls. “So it got derailed, for good reason. Everything got put on hold. Momentum is hard to recapture when it’s lost, especially in the independent film world.”
Jackson plays Paul, in a coma and being cared for by his mother (Close) after a car accident. The movie flashes between that situation and Paul’s pre-crash life, playing music in clubs and having an affair with an older neighbour (Clarkson).
“I’m proud to be part of that group,” Jackson says. “Bad movies can go by the wayside and that’s fine by me. But a really good film should be given a voice. People should have the opportunity to go see them.”
It’s pointed out that Jackson’s Pacey on Dawson’s Creek had an affair with a teacher and now here he is locking lips with the 40-something Clarkson in The Safety of Objects. Jackson says his older-woman smooches started much earlier, back home in Vancouver.
“The first job I ever got was a movie called Crooked Hearts, in 1989. I was 11 years old and my first on-screen kiss was with Marg Helgenberger, several years my senior,” he says.
“On her side it was a fairly innocent kiss. I was shocked to be kissing a woman. I don’t think it was as life-changing for her as it was for me. I’m guessing she’s moved on.”