Dawson’s Creek recently celebrated its 20th anniversary—the beloved drama series made its debut on the WB on Jan. 20, 1998. Now, two decades later, the cast and creator of one of TV’s first teen dramas have reunited for an Entertainment Weekly cover shoot and interview, and they are dropping secrets about what might have been.
When Dawson’s Creek premiered in early 1998, it made instant stars out of the young actors cast to play high school friends Dawson Leery (James Van Der Beek), Pacey Witter (Joshua Jackson), Joey Potter (Katie Holmes), and Jen Lindley (Michelle Williams). But in the EW interview, Dawson’s Creek creator Kevin Williamson recalled that he actually wanted Joshua Jackson to play the title character, Dawson Leery. The network didn’t agree, so James Van Der Beek was cast in the lead role, while Jackson stayed on as his pal Pacey Witter.
In addition, Williamson dished that future Grey’s Anatomy star Katherine Heigl auditioned for the role of Jen Lindley, but the actress proved to be a little bit too mature for the part. Producers liked Heigl, but Michelle Williams later landed the role after blowing producers away with an audition scene between Jen and her dying grandfather.
Next up, Selma Blair (Cruel Intentions) was the showrunner’s first choice to play girl-across-the-creek, Joey Potter.
“We were very close to going with Selma Blair, ” Williams told the Hollywood Reporter earlier this year. “She read it very tough, with a lot of heart.”
Selma was seemingly a shoe-in—until Williamson received a then-unknown Katie Holmes’ audition tape, that is. Holmes famously skipped her original Dawson’s Creek audition when she was called in to read for the role of Joey Potter on the opening night of her high school play, Damn Yankees. According to Parade, Katie felt bad about letting her school down so she skipped the audition and sent a tape in to Dawson’s Creek producers instead and it was a hit.
In the end, Dawson’s Creek producers cast the perfect foursome for the Capeside crew. Now, with the 20th anniversary of the shows spawning all kinds of nostalgia, fans would love to see a TV or movie reunion of the cast. But diehard Dawson’s Creek fans shouldn’t hold their breath. In an interview with the Guardian, Dawson’s Creek star James Van Der Beek, now 41, made it clear he has no real interest in playing a midlife version of Dawson Leery.
“Some characters live with you for a while and you wonder how they’re doing and what they’d be doing now,” Van Der Beek said. “I felt pretty complete putting that one on the shelf and not looking at him again.”
Ditto for Katie Holmes. The 39-year-old actress told Yahoo Style she wasn’t sure a reunion of the teen-based show would be a good idea.
“I don’t know,” Holmes told Yahoo. “Does it work today? I don’t want them to grow up. It’s kind of like your parents, they never get out of their 50s. That’s where they are.”
For more on the Dawson’s Creek reunion, check out the video below.