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Dawson's Creek stars reveal behind-the-scenes secrets

Digital Spy (UK) logo Digital Spy (UK) 24/11/2017 Morgan Jeffery

It was a bona-fide TV phenomenon in the '90s and now you can relive all the dramatic highs and lows of Dawson's Creek, with all six series now available to stream on All4 in the UK.

But what was life really like on the Dawson's set? How did it feel to be in the eye of the storm when the series became an overnight success?

"It was a magical time," recalls John Wesley Shipp, who played Dawson's dad Mitch Leery from 1998 to 2001. "I wasn't the original father when they shot the pilot – there was another actor. But they decided to go in a different direction some time during the summer.

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"So I went back and reshot the scenes from the pilot, and then picked up with the second episode. But when I saw the pilot without me in it, I knew immediately that it had a different look and a different sound. Suddenly, the writers were writing up to a young audience, instead of down to a young audience.

"So many smart, young kids had these thoughts and interior feelings and conflicts and motivations, that they hadn't been given credit for in their entertainment, particularly television entertainment, up to that time. They were suddenly being given a voice, and the response was incredible."

Related: James Van Der Beek reveals how he really feels about the Crying Dawson meme

Mary-Margaret Humes starred as Dawson's mom Gail Leery across all six seasons how she "absolutely adored" the original core four cast – James Van Der Beek (Dawson), Joshua Jackson (Pacey), Katie Holmes (Joey) and Michelle Williams (Jen).

"I was a friend, I was a confidante, sometimes I was a life coach, a shoulder to lean on, a sympathetic ear. Sometimes I was a dog-sitter, because they all had animals!"

She remembers her first encounter with Van Der Beek particularly clearly, having mistaken him for the actor playing her younger lover in an affair plot. "He said, 'No, I believe you're my mom!' – it was a cute little moment that passed."

According to Shipp, "Joshua Jackson was very improvisational and very in-the-moment and instinctual and impulsive as a performer. James was more cerebral, and very analytical, and very concerned with logical progression of character."

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"We would hang out on the weekends, and we brought jet-skis, and we'd go to the beach," Mary-Margaret remembers. "We were like a normal family, until the show became so over-the-top successful and no one could go anywhere without being recognised."

The popularity of Dawson's Creek catapulted its leads to stardom, with the hormone-heavy tales of Dawson's and friends becoming a defining show for the fledgling WB network. (The WB would later evolve into The CW, which remains a teen-oriented network almost 20 years later)

Both Shipp and Humes credit the show's success to series creator Kevin Williamson, who left at the end of the second season, though returned to write the two-hour series finale.

"Kevin was Dawson," Shipp says. "When Kevin was that age, he thought in those terms, he used those words. What we were hearing was so much Kevin's voice.

"We had brilliant people taking over – Greg Berlanti, he had worked with Kevin and took over the show – but I think after Kevin left, they had to work extra hard to make Dawson's voice authentic and not simply imitate the sound. In any show, if the creators leave, you know, the tone and the voice changes."

"I think that because it was Kevin Williamson's voice and it was his personal voice that James was portraying, it just made it so personal," Humes agrees.

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Dawson's Creek would evolve as it continued, introducing new regulars Jack (Kerr Smith), Andie (Meredith Monroe) and Audrey (Busy Philipps), with the Jack character being involved in a then-groundbreaking plot which saw him come out to family and friends.

As the teens aged, they also eventually departed the Creek for college, at which point, John Wesley Shipp decided to exit. "My fear going into the fifth season, if they were going to college, was that – after such a remarkable four years – the parents would recede into the background.

"So that's why they gave me the most beautiful and respectful and send-off I believe any character has ever been given in television, with my last two episodes."

Mitch Leery was killed off in a car accident early in season 5, with Shipp's co-star Humes insisting that while she herself was "happy to stay on", it was "hard" to continue on Dawson's Creek without her screen partner.

"When they killed his character off and we had to shoot the episode 'The Long Goodbye', I just remember crying for eight days. I just couldn't stop. But life goes on."

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Dawson's Creek ended in 2003 with William's two-parter 'All Good Things...' / '...Must Come to an End' and the series has been the subject of revival rumours practically ever since.

It's a prospect that Humes and Shipp both are open to, with the latter having previously revisited another '90s gig – The Flash – with a role in the 2014 reboot. "Having been involved in a highly successful reboot of a project that I was involved in, I would never say no to a Dawson's Creek revival categorically."

"I would love for them to do a four-episode arc, and tie some loose ends up," Humes adds. "I never say never. I know there's rumours. I know everybody talks about it."

Even if a reunion movie or mini-series never happens, Humes hopes that Dawson's Creek coming to streaming might bring the original show to a whole new audience. "There was something so special about Dawson's Creek, because it was before the internet. It was before cell phones. It was when kids would look at each other and have conversations....

"And now instead of gazing into each other's eyes, they're looking down at their cell phones, and they're texting! It's a lost era, and I would love for kids to reconnect with that."

You can watch all 6 series of Dawson's Creekright now on All4.

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Behind-the-scenes secrets from Dawson's Creek... revealed by Dawson's parents © Warner Bros. Behind-the-scenes secrets from Dawson's Creek... revealed by Dawson's parents
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