Actors' Careers Ruined By Dawson's Creek

"I don't want to wait for our lives to be over," Paula Cole sings in the beginning of every episode of Dawson's Creek as the show's cast of characters frolic on the shores of Capeside. When the series' lead actors started filming this coming-of-age drama in 1998, most of them were in their late teens and early twenties with promising careers ahead of them. Unfortunately, some of these stars' showbiz paths never quite made it out of Capeside when the smash series ended in 2003. Let's take a closer look at the Tinsel Town trajectories of these once-popular WB sensations.

Kerr Smith

Kerr Smith, who played Jack McPhee on Dawson's Creek, made history by engaging in the first "passionate" on-screen kiss between two men on network television. During his stint on the show, Smith simultaneously starred in the hit teenage horror film Final Destination (2000), but after the series finale, he failed to transition to better opportunities on the big or small screen.

According to Revere magazine, this silver fox ditched the acting scene and became co-owner and co-founder of the Venice Beach Beer Company in 2009. According to Kerr's business partner, the Dawson's Creek alum heads up "production, trucking, accounting, and...90% of the recipes...He's our brew master."

Meredith Monroe

Straight-A student and uptight know-it-all Andie McPhee on Dawson's Creek was played by 29-year-old Meredith Monroe, the oldest cast member on the show. She played Jack's sister and Pacey's love interest. Two years after the series wrapped, Monroe secured steady work as Haley Hotchner in the CBS series Criminal Minds, but her character was murdered on the 100th episode. McPhee has since landed a few bit parts in TV shows and a starring role in the Lifetime movie, The Husband She Met Online (2013). Unfortunately, a made-for-TV movie does not a post-Dawson's Creek success story make. 

James Van Der Beek

When 20-year-old James Van Der Beek auditioned for the role of Dawson Leery in 1998, the show's big wigs argued over whether he was fit for the part.

Van Der Beek offered up a play-by-play of his dramatic audition to the Daily Beast in 2012. "The head of Sony said, 'I don't know, he didn't walk in the room like a star.' [The series creator] Kevin Williamson replied, How the f**k do you want him to walk into the room? He's a kid.' So Kevin fought and fought and fought. I was in the waiting room and they kept bringing me back, asking for more energy, all in a two-hour waiting period. Then Kevin kicked and screamed and put his foot down: 'I wrote Dawson! I am Dawson! This is Dawson!' They finally said, 'Fine, but for the love of God, get the kid a haircut!'

Van Der Beek reportedly beat out Entourage (2004-11) star Adrian Grenier for the role. but sadly, Van Der Beek apparently played Dawson a little too well. While he starred in the forever nostalgic, whipped-cream-bikini-filled Varsity Blues in 1999, Van Der Beek had a hard time landing roles in Hollywood after Dawson's Creek concluded. He's found small gigs on TV, appearing in One Tree Hill and CSI: Cyber and playing himself in the short-lived Don't Trust the B—- in Apartment 23. He voices Boris Hauntley in the animated Disney series Vamperina (2017-), but unfortunately, Van Der Beek hasn't earned that Oscar moment Dawson spent his adolescence dreaming about.

Joshua Jackson

Though he's done better than many of his Capeside peers, Joshua Jackson has never quite been able to break up with his Dawson's Creek shadow: Pacey Witter. Sure, all '90s kids loved Jackson in 2000's Skulls, and he found steady work starring in the Fox's Fringe (2008-13) and Showtime's The Affair (2014-17), but even that success arguably hasn't matched the impact of his breakout persona.

In fact, when Jackson cameoed as a cashier named Purvis in Season 2 of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt in 2016his character even poked fun at the infamous Dawson's Creek scene where Joey Potter loses her virginity to Pacey.

Busy Phillips

Busy Phillips played Audrey Liddell, Joey's college roommate, but like her roomie, Phillips hasn't cracked the top tier of show biz. She has kept busy landing cameos and small parts in assorted hit TV shows, including Arrested Development and New Girl. In 2011, she nabbed a Critics Choice TV Award for her leading role in Courteney Cox's Cougar Town (2009-15). When that sitcom concluded, Phillips transitioned to HBO's Vice-Principals (2016-17) series. Having recently strung together two popular gigs, Phillips could potentially outrun the Dawson's Creek boogeyman.

Katie Holmes

The only thing that kept Katie Holmes from disappearing into ultimate obscurity after Dawson's Creek was her marriage to superstar Scientologist Tom Cruise. To be clear, Holmes is a talented actress who was well received by critics (though not the box office) in Wonder Boys (2000) with Michael Douglas and the indie film Pieces of April (2003). In 2005, she starred in Batman Begins and Thank You For Smoking, but she is still best known as Joey, the girl-next-door waiting tables at the Ice House.

In 2006, Holmes married Cruise and morphed into the gossip fodder known as "TomKat." Since then, it's her personal life—not her acting acting career—that has kept her in the headlines. Entertainment publications have obsessed over the rise and fall of her marriage with Cruise, the custody drama surrounding their daughter, Suri, and her super-private romance with Cruise's friend, actor Jamie Foxx.

But Holmes could still turn her career around. Movie critic Roger Ebert called her performance as a bipolar poet in 2015's Touched With Fire "beautifully understated and moving." She stars as the ex-wife to Channing Tatum's character in the heist comedy Lucky Logan (2017) and as a free-spirited music critic opposite Patrick Stewart in The Gift (2017), so Holmes seems well-positioned to shed her Dawson's Creek baggage once and for all.

Michelle Williams

Though New York City "bad girl" Jen Lindley dies on Dawson's Creek, actress Michelle Williams is the only cast member who has forged a stellar post-show career. Williams was Oscar-nominated for best actress in the indie film Blue Valentine (2010) and for best supporting actress in Brokeback Mountain (2005) opposite her late husband, Heath Ledger. She won a Golden Globe in the starring role of My Week with Marilyn (2011) and took home the 2016 Tony Award for best actress in Blackbird. In 2017, she was nominated for another Academy Award for her supporting role in the highly-acclaimed Manchester by the Sea. To think Williams was actually worried when her character was killed in Dawson's Creek because she wouldn't be able to appear on a reunion show or a movie spin-off.

Though she's the only cast member whose career has clearly eclipsed its Dawson's Creek days, co-star Van Der Beek put it best when he summarized their collective accomplishments for the Daily Beast in 2012: "I remember going through the crazy teen idol-dom. I remember thinking to myself, 'Now I know why there are so many E! True Hollywood Stories.' The fact that none of us is in jail is pretty astonishing." Let's hear it for those Capeside Creek values.