Joshua Jackson: Canadian Boy to Hollywood Star
Joshua Browning Jackson Carter was born on June 11, 1978, to John Carter and Fiona Jackson in Vancouver, British Columbia. His mother, a casting agent, was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, and worked for 30 years in casting and production for television and film. His father, an Ivy League educated advertising executive, moved the family to Topanga Canyon, California (a suburb north of Santa Monica) when Josh was three, where his younger sister, Aisleagh, was born five years later.
From the young age of five, Josh longed for an Irish-based education. “I sent him to kindergarten at the Topanga Elementary School in California and he came back to me after a couple of days and said it wasn’t working out,” his mother, Fiona, describes. “He didn’t want to be painting and singing, he wanted to be learning lessons, like I did,” she continues, “I said to him Dublin schools aren’t like that. I went to a convent school and there were serious rules. Feet on the floor, hands on the desk, no interruptions. He said that was exactly what he wanted.”
After convincing his mother he wanted something different to the average California kindergarten experience, Fiona enrolled him at the Lycee Francais School in Los Angeles. Two years later after a bitter divorce of his parents (and the changing of his last name to Jackson), Josh, Aisleagh and Fiona moved up the West Coast towards Vancouver, B.C. Along the way, Josh lived in San Francisco, where he participated in the San Francisco Boys Chorus. A subsequent stop in Seattle, Washington, led to Josh playing the lead role of ‘Charlie Bucket’ in the theatrical production of “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” presented by the Seattle Children’s Theatre. He resided for a short period of time in Richmond Beach, Washington, and attended Einstein Middle School in Shoreline. He eventually returned to his hometown of Vancouver, and settled.
During this time, Josh had an interest in the world of acting. “It is my first love,” Josh exclaims. Being a very active member of the industry, his mother decided the best way to keep him from the tough and demanding world of acting, was to allow a then nine year old Joshua to audition for a TV commercial. As fate would have it Josh landed the part and went on to do several other TV commercials, including a spot for British Columbia Tourism. He also had bit parts on the popular 80s show, “MacGyver”, which, coincidentally, was a program his mother was influential in casting.
In 1989, Josh broke into the world of films and won two small roles playing the younger-self of the leading actor in each of the films. He played a young “Mac” McAllister in the TV movie, “Payoff” with Keith Carradine, and starred in the critically acclaimed movie, “Crooked Hearts” with Marg Helgenberger. It is in “Crooked Hearts” where he had his first screen kiss with Helgenberger, “It kind of ruined me for women my own age,” Josh explains. All this at the tender age of 11.
Next up for Josh would be his most recognized role for many generations to come, the lead role of Charlie Conway, captain to the Disney hockey trilogy, “The Mighty Ducks”. “From age 13 on, he has skated from screen victory to victory, to the delight of adoring fans,” Janet Weeks from LA Life describes. While others may think making a Disney film in their childhood is something they should avoid mentioning, Josh on the other hand, embraces it, “[I had] to do it. There’s no regrets. I’d be sad if I was the guy they didn’t pick to play Charlie.” Josh adds, “I got to be in movies. How many people, when they’re 30, can look back at high school and say `I made a movie?’ It’s carpe diem.”
Being so busy with his new hectic schedule, Josh managed to get expelled from not one, but two of his schools in Vancouver, Kitsilano and Ideal High School. “I was kicked out for being ornery and poor attendance,” he says. During and after the “Ducks”, Josh went on to do smaller Made-for-TV movies, such as, “Ronnie & Julie” and “Robin of Locksley”, both modern takes on the classic tales. By the time he was 19, he had completed 10 movies.
In 1997, the young actor was working hard to keep himself busy, being that he was now 19, and on his own. “The fear of failure was omnipresent. I was really kind of considering hanging it all up as an actor. I couldn’t even get a job waiting tables, because I was too young to serve alcohol.”
Yet Josh stuck in there and even after being un-employed for a short time, he won a part in the film “Apt Pupil”. During a break between filming, Josh was able to try out for a new TV show that was creating a buzz: “Dawson’s Creek”. Josh auditioned for the part of the lead character and the goofy sidekick, Pacey Witter, but creator and writer, Kevin Williamson had different plans. He describes, “Of all the actors who read, he was the most talented. I was originally going to cast Pacey as not quite as attractive, not quite sexually appealing. I wanted Dawson to have all the babe quality and Pacey to be the nerdy sidekick. But when I had Josh read Pacey, I realized that he encompassed all that, plus he had the magnetism and the charisma and the sex appeal. He was perfect.”
The role helped launch Josh into the upcoming teen genre’s market of media, and onward to re-introduce to the teen generations, a show that would change the look of teens on TV, forever. Production for “Dawson’s Creek” began in the summer of 1997. Initially only a pilot episode, the show, which debuted on January 20, 1998 as a mid-season replacement, was eventually picked up for 12 episodes in its first season. It was during this time that Josh sparked up a romance with his co-star, Katie Holmes. The two dated for eight months (although rumored longer), and even after their relationship ended, both refer each other as their first love “At the time we were two kids going through a break-up, so the first year after that was a little tricky. Probably, though, it was the healthiest break-up I’ve ever had because we were forced to be all right with each other for five years after; we couldn’t just ignore it and hope it would go away.”, Josh said recently. The two were really close friends until early 2005, after Katie visited Josh in London to see a play he was in she severed ties with Josh and other friends to marry Tom Cruise. Josh reluctantly mentions their quickly ended friendship in interviews, but doesn’t care to talk about it.
After that first season of the show, Josh and his co-stars careers took off. Josh was being offered and auditioning for smaller, but memorable, characters. He stared in films such as, “Urban Legend” “Cruel Intentions” and “Gossip”, to name a few. But it wasn’t until March 2000, when he had his first starring role in “The Skulls”. The movie opened to decent numbers, and rounded out its months to make approximately $35 million in the US alone. The spring of 2000 also brought him the opportunity to host “Saturday Night Live” and be a guest star on “The Simpsons” when he voiced the character of Jesse Grass in the episode “Lisa the Tree Hugger.” Josh later joked that it was “all downhill from here,” but that was far from the truth.
Following a summer vacation spent backpacking through Europe (where he, among other adventures, ran with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain), Josh returned to Wilmington to film the fourth season of “Dawson’s Creek.” During that time, he managed to squeeze in two other projects – the dark comedy “Lone Star State of Mind,” and a small, but important, role in “The Safety of Objects,” starring Glenn Close and Patricia Clarkson. It was the opportunity to work with these two actresses that drew Josh to the part. “The major attraction to me was being able to work with Glenn Close. Once I actually read the script, realizing that I was going to have an affair with Patricia Clarkson was not so bad either. It gave me an opportunity to be in the company of actors who I really respect and are really good at their job, and to test my skill against theirs.”
The critically acclaimed HBO film “The Laramie Project” and a cameo playing himself in the star-studded “Ocean’s Eleven” rounded out 2001 for Josh. At the Sundance Film Festival in January 2002, where “The Laramie Project” opened the festival, he met, and struck up a romance with, actress Rosario Dawson. The two dated through the fall of 2002.
By this time, Josh was back to film the sixth, and final, season of “Dawson’s Creek.” Though not officially cancelled by the WB until January, the cast knew going in that it would be their last season. “In knowing through the whole season that this was going be the last one, it’s actually been quite a nice experience to have the time to properly say goodbye,” said the actor. In addition to his on screen role, Josh also got the opportunity to go behind the cameras and make his directorial debut for the episode “Lovelines,” which aired in April of 2003 – not to mention fitting in yet another film, “I Love Your Work,” which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2003 and had a limited release the following year. As to the emotional ending of the show, which creator Kevin Williamson returned to scribe and which garnered the WB its highest ratings ever, Josh acknowledged that there was sadness and nostalgia, but also “a sense of jubilation” that the show finished on a high note. “Let’s be honest,” he says, “I’m happy cause I got the girl.”
With the end of “Dawson’s Creek” in May 2003, the question was what would Josh do next. His immediate plans had been to take some time well deserved time off. “I can go home to Vancouver for a little while and then hopefully I’ll worry about work in the fall but for the time being, just relax,” he said right after the finale had aired. Those plans quickly changed as he was off to Pamplona, Spain to star in the independent feature film “Americano,” co-starring Dennis Hopper. Upon finishing filming in late August, Josh had little downtime, as he was asked to read for the title role in “Batman.” Though the role ultimately went to Christian Bale, word is that Josh impressed the Warner Brothers executives with his audition.
The notion of just relaxing still didn’t materialize in the autumn of 2003, as Josh began production on the indie feature of “Aurora Borealis,” a dramatic role where he plays a young man who comes to terms with the death of his father, co-starring Donald Sutherland and Juliette Lewis. Shortly after that, it was announced that he would also be appearing in the film “Cursed,” a hip horror film with Christina Ricci, directed by Wes Craven and written by Kevin Williamson, and would have the starring role in “Shadows in the Sun,” where Josh played a writer in Italy, co-starring Harvey Keitel and Claire Forlani. Along the way, he also managed to lend his voice to the CGI-live action film “Racing Stripes”.
In October of 2004, it was announced that Josh would make his West End (London) debut in David Mamet’s “A Life in the Theatre,” a two-hander about the backstage relationship between two repertory company actors, starring along side Patrick Stewart. The play premiered on February 2, 2005 (after a week of previews), to mostly positive reviews and sold-out audiences. The run, originally slated to end April 23rd, was extended an additional week, with closing night April 30th.
January 2005 heralded the release of “Racing Stripes” and saw “Americano” had its world premiere at the Palms Springs Film Festival. One of the film’s producers was quoted in The Desert Sun as saying, “We have been getting a great response from sales reps…after that it’s getting the right distributor to bite and put the film out there.” Additionally, after several delays and numerous re-shoots, “Cursed” was released on February 25, 2005. Unfortunately, the reviews for the horror/comedy film were mostly negative, and its performance at the box office seems to have suffered for it.
More good news came in November 2005, when Josh won the “Best Actor” award for his roll in “Aurora Borealis” at the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival. This was then followed by “Shadows in the Sun,” which wrapped production in June of 2004 and was released on ABC Family in November 2005, and had an international release in theaters first quarter 2006. Josh is also busy on two new films that are currently in production; “Bobby”, which goes back to the day that Bobby Kennedy was shot and how it impacted American lives in the 60s.
Now, in 2009, Josh divides his time between his native Vancouver, B.C., Los Angeles with his long time girlfriend, actress Diane Kruger. He recently relocated back to Vancouver from New York City where his TV Show, Fringe, originally was filming. With an initial 13-episodes ordered, the show debuted on the Fox Network in September 2008 to decent ratings. Due to the success of the project, Fox recently announced a full season order for the show’s first season.
Filming is now underway in Vancouver for the show’s second season.
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