Joshua Jackson

Reinventing Josh

macleans.ca Profile
June 6, 2003
OUTPACING PACEY
SHANDA DEZIEL
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Vancouver-born actor Joshua Jackson reinvents himself in the aftermath of Dawson’s Creek

MOST PEOPLE who watched the final episode of Dawson’s Creek last month had trouble controlling the waterworks — including Joshua Jackson. “We had a big viewing party,” says the 24-year-old Vancouver native, who for six years played Pacey Witter on the series. “It’s embarrassing crying in front of people you don’t know — and I don’t cry at TV shows — but this absolutely got me.” Young actors coming off a teen series, ready to move on in their careers, rarely admit to watching their own shows, let alone deign to discuss the minutiae of their characters’ lives. But Jackson is less pretentious than most actors. In fact, in person he’s a lot like the affable Pacey.

Over breakfast, he lets loose on how ridiculous Pacey’s storylines were in the last two seasons — he went from deckhand to executive chef to millionaire stockbroker. But Jackson is extremely pleased the series ended on such a high note. “Let’s be honest,” he says, “I’m happy cause I got the girl.” While he could happily talk about Dawson’s Creek for hours, it turns out Jackson actually has moved on. Later this year, he’ll play a film student being stalked by a movie star in the independent film I Love Your Work. His first post-Dawson’s showcase is the new indie, dysfunctional-families drama The Safety of Objects, with an ensemble cast that includes Glenn Close and Dermot Mulroney.

Jackson has a couple of scenes in which he’s onstage singing in a rock band and one where he’s consoling his older lover, played by Patricia Clarkson — but for most of the movie he’s in a coma. While that will be a huge disappointment to 15-year-old girls, the unglamorous role is a brilliant choice for this 14-year veteran of the business. Jackson, who got his break at 14 starring in The Mighty Ducks, has a film resume loaded with throwaway teen flicks. “It’s a joke, my best work is in a coma,” he says. But seriously, the role gives him some credibility as an adult actor.

It also involves a trendy younger man-older woman hookup, a major theme in independent movies last year (The Good Girl, Lovely and Amazing, Igby Goes Down). “Much more than the relationship being about the time-tested love between an 18-year-old and a 45-year-old,” notes Jackson, “it’s about a mid-life crisis from the woman’s perspective, which is pretty rare in film. Usually it’s the thinning-haired, Porsche-driving man who’s getting the screen time.”

If Jackson seems particularly attuned to women, that could be because he was raised by a single mother. In fact, he recently bought the L.A. home his family lived in before his parents split and his mom moved him and his sister back to Vancouver. “We moved out of the house because my parents got divorced,” he says. “My father turned out to be an asshole and abandoned us; he took my dog in the divorce and sold it — brutal stuff. I hadn’t been in the house since I was seven years old. So when the chance to buy it came up, it just seemed right. It was a snap decision.”

As well as being impulsive, he’s a tad reckless. The actor spent a night in jail after he was arrested for being drunk and disorderly at an NHL game in Raleigh, N.C., last November. He vents about being roughed up by police, and suggests the arrest might have had something to do with his familiar face. “There was this little scrum, no punches were thrown and my involvement was about, honestly, eight seconds long. But if you read the reports of the security guards, I’m Superman, I’m Hulk Hogan, throwing punches. And I’m the only one put into the back of the cop car. If I was a paranoid person I would say maybe I got singled out.”

This world-is-out-to-get-me sarcasm is classic Pacey, as is the good-natured demeanor Jackson returns to immediately after the rant. Perhaps for the last six years, he was merely playing himself on TV. Which makes the whole moving on thing all the more difficult — and impressive.

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