Laying on the Charm
Against her better judgment, Mary Morgan is entranced by Joshua Jackson during The OxStu’s exclusive interview with the Dawson’s Creek heart-throb
Joshua Jackson. Pacey Witter. This Dawson’s Creek star and Hollywood actor needs little introduction, certainly for the hundreds of devotees who queued for hours outside the Union last week to see and hear their Canadian heart-throb.
I must admit that I was never a huge Pacey fan myself. That is not to say that I was more of a Dawson girl – clearly there was no comparison – but rather that I was not an avid watcher of the show at all. Whilst females in their droves waited in the pouring rain to catch a glimpse of their teenage crush, I sat inside and wondered what all the fuss was about. I was, in fact, fairly undaunted at the prospect of meeting someone who to me had always appeared pretty over-rated.
Yet the man with whom I met was indeed the epitome of boyish charm. I entered the interview at my most professional, objective and removed, prepared to be unimpressed. Five minutes later I was giggling like a schoolgirl, nervously twiddling with my hair and wondering why the hell I had not removed my geeky-looking glasses before we met. Jackson really is a charmer.
He began his acting career at the age of nine. Remember the uber-cute boy in Andre? One of those ‘heart-warming family classic’ type films you probably watched with your grandparents when you were ten – something about a boy, a seal and a valuable lesson for life. The young Jackson also played a leading role in the three Mighty Ducks movies, having kick-started his career with a couple of successful US television commercials.
Having a mother in the film industry, it was not difficult for Jackson to take those first vital steps into the world of acting. “She was never ‘pushy’, though,” he is quick to tell me. As a casting director herself (the one and the same who gave Joshua his first job, in fact!) Jackson’s mother was intimately aware of the kind of pressures under which a young actor could find himself, and actually tried to dissuade her son from becoming too involved. “But for me, it was just fun. And getting paid $88 a day for having fun couldn’t be a bad thing!”
Since those early days, Jackson has gone on to star in a number of films, Urban Legends and Cruel Intentions amongst the most notable. He describes the day that he spent filming for a brief cameo role in Ocean’s Eleven as one of the best he has ever had: “Those who are most comfortable with their ability to perform have the smallest ego,” he says of Brad Pitt and George Clooney, a couple of actors for whom he obviously has a great deal of respect.
He recalls how the three of them sat around playing poker off-set; it all sounds very ‘Hollywood’, although Jackson insists that he has actually experienced very little of the Tinseltown world, with six years working on Dawson’s Creek interspersed with mostly small and indie productions.
We chat about the show, and the character of Pacey, the relative ‘bad boy’ to James Van Der Beek’s squeaky-clean Dawson. “We were the best kids in the world. We may have talked at great length about having sex but there was so little actual sex going on in the township of Capeside. It was tragic, really,” he jokingly laments.
Jackson is cheeky in his responses, and you can imagine that as a teenager he was rather more adventurous in his respective misdemeanors than his on-screen alter-ego. “Those were the kids that I did not hang out with,” he says of Joey, Pacey et al. Having been thrown out of two schools in his own youth, you can well believe it. There is certainly nothing aggressive or rebellious about Jackson now, but he does appear to have a mischievous sense of naughtiness that goes beyond the clean-cut, pre-watershed limitations of the Dawson’s Creek persona.
Yet the six series spent working on the show obviously mean a great deal to Jackson, who talks passionately about the experience. His early relationship with Katie Holmes, who plays Joey, only added chemistry to their later on-screen romance; the ongoing love triangle between the two characters and Dawson the mainstay of the show.
Was this constant tension one that was reflected behind the scenes, I wonder? Certainly, Jackson is unwilling to talk about his relationship with Van Der Beek, although he did tell me that: “James and I never saw eye to eye. The two of us never got on.” He is also emphatically pleased with the final outcome of the long-running saga, in which his character ends up with the coveted babe and he comes out tops: “I got the girl!” he cheerfully gloats.
This notion of “fun” seems to be at the very centre of the Jackson philosophy; later on, addressing a packed Debating Chamber, Joshua swaggers playfully up and down the aisle, clearly enjoying playing the clown. His mobile rings whilst he is mid-sentence; Jackson’s faux embarrassment is met with peals of laughter and female squeals from around the room, in a speaker meeting which felt more like a Saturday morning children’s TV show than an Union event.
The questions are trite and the answers clichéd: “What three things would you take with you if you were trapped on a desert island?” asks one fan, stuttering over her words as she speaks finally with her idol. “What is your greatest passion?” asks another.
“To live, to see to see the world, and to experience as much as I can before I die,” is the response that rolls from his tongue, clearly a phrase which has been used a thousand times before. I wince as “Can anyone be this perfect?” comes from the floor. My early skepticism is fast returning.
At one point, a refreshing break: “In a room packed with some of the most intelligent women in the country, what is it about you that makes them ask such inane questions?” ventures one brave listener. After that, we do talk a little about American politics and Jackson’s dislike for George Bush, a leader who “refuses to see anything beyond the tip of his own nose.” He will be rooting for John Kerry in the November elections.
Yet the topic of conversation soon reverts to the world of Pacey and friends; the world in which Jackson still appears most comfortable and about which this room full of squealing adolescents has come along to hear. In talking about it, Jackson oozes charm and charisma, he is engaging and amusing. And despite my distaste for girly adoration, I can see where they are coming from.