It's been more than 20 years since Dawson's Creek originally premiered and, honestly, our lives have never been the same (...or over) since. From Joey and Pacey's on-and-off relationship to Dawson pining for Jen, the characters had us glued to our TVs for six seasons. Now, thanks to Netflix, a whole new generation is able to watch all of the drama that went down in Capeside, Massachusetts. Whether you're a new viewer or bingeing the show for the third time, allow us to present you with 30 surprising facts about Dawson's Creek. Warning: spoilers ahead.
The show premiered more than 20 years ago.
The pilot was shot in April 1997, and premiered in January 1998. To celebrate the major anniversary, the cast reunited for the cover of Entertainment Weekly two decades later. While the stars have kept up with one another, the photoshoot was the first time all of them were reunited at once.
They filmed in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Although the show is set in Capeside, Massachusetts, the actual footage was shot on location in Wilmington, North Carolina. It wasn't the last teenage drama shot in this coastal town, either—The WB returned to film One Tree Hill there in 2003.
The cast members were all unknown when the show premiered.
When Dawson’s Creek premiered in 1998, the show featured a cast full of fresh-faced, unknown actors with little to no major television experience.
It was creator Kevin Williamson's first show.
"I had sold Scream and they hadn't made it yet. It was a spec script, and everyone was reading it. It got me a lot of meet-and-greets," Williamson told The Hollywood Reporter. "I was still starting out and at a smaller agency at the time and they had said there was this TV producer named Paul Stupin who wanted to meet with me."
The show is based on Kevin Williamson's life.
It all started when TV producer Paul Stupin asked Williamson if he had any ideas for television. "In the moment, I started making up a show. I had no idea! I started talking about growing up in North Carolina on a creek with my video camera, filming movies in the backyard and wishing to be Steven Spielberg," Williamson told The Hollywood Reporter. "I just kept talking: it was about me and my friends."
The show wasn't supposed to be set in Massachusetts.
The script had the show originally set in North Carolina, but The WB changed it to a coastal town outside of Boston instead. "I came up with Dawson's Creek and pitched it," Williamson told The Hollywood Reporter. "I remember their only note was to move it out of North Carolina and put it in Boston. I set it outside of Boston, in Capeside."
Networks initially passed on the program.
Creator Kevin Williamson was turned down by FOX, so he took his script to The WB, who snatched it up, and the rest is history. FOX probably still regrets this one.
Selma Blair almost played Joey Potter.
Could you imagine if Hollywood had never discovered Katie Holmes?! That's exactly what almost happened, since producers were close to casting Selma Blair in Holmes' breakthrough role as Joey Potter.
Joshua Jackson almost wasn't Pacey.
The show went back and forth between casting Jackson as Dawson or Pacey. Ultimately, we think they made the right choice. "I fell in love with Josh Jackson because he could read any role, Dawson or Pacey," Williamson told The Hollywood Reporter. "But something wasn't complete and that's when the network said they didn't see Josh as Dawson, and rightfully so. So, I went, 'OK, he's Pacey,' because I knew I wanted him in the show no matter what."
Katie Holmes's audition tape was pretty unique.
She shot it in the basement of her family home in Ohio on her mom's camcorder. In a technology mishap, the teenager recorded over half of her audition tape with her younger sister's volleyball tournament. Luckily, she wowed producers on the first half enough to warrant a callback.
The show's creator had a dog named Dawson.
No, Dawson Leery is not named after a canine friend—it's the other way around. After Kevin Williamson’s script for Dawson's Creek was turned down by FOX, the aspiring showrunner was devastated. "It went away and my life was over. I went and got a dog and named him Dawson. I thought that would be my only memory of this script," Williamson told The Hollywood Reporter.
Katie Holmes was in high school when she was cast.
The then-aspiring actress almost missed her audition because she was the lead in her school play, Damn Yankees, and couldn't miss opening night. "I remember that she couldn't come, and I got her on the phone and said, 'You don't know me but can you please come to L.A. because I think you're Joey Potter and I really want to meet you,'" Williamson told The Hollywood Reporter.
Michelle Williams was the youngest cast member.
While it's rare for teenage TV dramas to feature actual teenagers, the cast of Dawson's Creek was relatively young since they were newcomers. Michelle Williams, who played Jen Lindley, was 16 years old when the show started filming. The oldest of the core four was James Van Der Beek, who was 20 years old.
The cast was very close.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Kevin Williamson shared what it was like for the cast living near each other while filming. "It was a magical experience, we were all living in Wilmington, North Carolina. We were all hanging out, we were going to dinner every night, we were going to the movies. It was interesting we were all a tight little circle and then one year later, we couldn't go to the mall anymore."
Everyone was relatively anonymous in North Carolina.
Because social media didn't exist at the time, the actors were able to live relatively normal lives in Wilmington, North Carolina. "I would have been TMZed out of the business if [social media] had existed," Busy Philipps said during the cast's reunion interview with Entertainment Weekly. "I think we all would have been," James Van Der Beek added.
Joshua Jackson and Katie Holmes dated in real life.
The teenagers, both 18 at the start of the show, had immediate chemistry when they first met on set, and ended up dating for a year. "I'm just going to say that I met somebody last year," Holmes told Rolling Stone in 1998. "I fell in love, I had my first love, and it was something so incredible and indescribable that I will treasure it always."
Pacey and Joey weren't supposed to be together.
You can thank Holmes and Jackson for that storyline. "[The couple] had instant chemistry. [Laughs.] We all saw that and we were like, 'OK, uh, [do we pair them up in] season three? Season two?!' The show was about the soulmate question of Dawson and Joey," Williamson told The Hollywood Reporter. "We saw that chemistry between Katie and Josh and decided it would be the thing that breaks up Dawson and Joey and that it would come between Dawson and Pacey's friendship."
Dawson's now-iconic crying meme wasn't in the script.
We've all seen Dawson's ugly cry at the end of season three—are you even on Twitter if you haven't? But that meme-able moment almost didn't happen, as it wasn't written in the script. The gesture was improvised by James Van Der Beek.
The theme song isn't about what you think.
"I Don’t Want to Wait" is now associated with teen heartbreak and drama, but Busy Philipps pointed out on her talk show, Busy Tonight, that the song by Paula Cole was about a woman living through World War II. "She had two babies, one was six months, one was three, in the war of '44," Philipps said.
The theme song wasn't the creator's first choice either.
Producers originally selected Alanis Morissette's "Hand in My Pocket" as the theme song. However, The WB couldn't secure the rights and chose "I Don't Want to Wait" instead because it had already been used in promotional ads for the show.
Joshua Jackson saved someone from drowning while filming.
The actor leapt into action when he realized two women were drowning in the ocean of Wilmington, North Carolina. The Coast Guard ultimately rescued all of them. However, Jackson "kept them safe and floating until the Coast Guard got there," the show's producer David Hartley told the New York Post.
Busy Philipps wasn't supposed to be a regular on the show.
The actress originally signed on as a guest star. However, when she met with producers, who had seen her on Freaks and Geeks, they decided to introduce her as a new character in the college years. She joined the cast in season five as Audrey Liddell, Joey's roommate.
One of the actors asked to be killed off.
Splitting her time between Los Angeles and Wilmington became too much for Monica Keena, who played mean girl Abby Morgan, so the actress asked to leave. As a result, she was written out of the script, with her character drunkenly falling off a pier and dying.
Katie Holmes had her first on-screen kiss on the show.
No, it wasn't Katie Holmes’ first kiss, just the first time on-screen. The actress didn't elaborate on who she kissed, but in an episode of The Late Late Show with James Corden, Holmes teased that her first on-screen kiss was on Dawson’s Creek.
Ryan Reynolds went to high school with Joshua Jackson.
Both of the actors are from Vancouver and attended Kitsilano Secondary School, which Reynolds revealed during a talk show appearance. Why oh why didn't he make it on Dawson's Creek?!
Busy Philipps and Michelle Williams met on set.
The two actresses are often awards show dates, and we have Dawson's Creek season five to thank for that friendship. At the time, the actresses bonded by hitting up local bars in Wilmington.
Jack McPhee "coming out" was a big deal.
More than 20 years later, Kerr Smith, who played Jack McPhee, reflected on his character's storyline and said he felt a huge responsibility to handle it correctly, as there weren't many same-sex relationships on TV at the time. "It was an intense experience," he told toofab. "I remember calling everyone that I respected and saying, 'Hey, should I do this?' But, I'm glad we did it and it was part of history."
Busy Philipps had to hide her nose piercing while filming.
The actress flipped her septum piercing up to hide it, but off camera the piercing would come out. Her personal style worked a few times with her character "when Audrey became an alcoholic and was in the punk band," Philipps told Entertainment Weekly.
The theme song isn't used anymore.
When the show transitioned to DVD and streaming services, it no longer had the rights to "I Don't Want to Wait," so Jann Arden's "Run Like Mad" is played instead.
The cast isn't keen on a reunion.
With reboots of almost every popular '90s and 2000s show popping up, don't expect Dawson's Creek to join the ranks. "What I love about the show is that it existed at a time pre-social media, pre-internet and it was nostalgic when we were shooting it," Katie Holmes told Entertainment Weekly. "And I like that we ended it when we were all five years older. It does feel like it's completed."
These Brushes Will Completely Change How You Apply Makeup
The Kevyn Aucoin The Duet Foundation Brush is our desert island pick.
By Samantha Holender
Channing Tatum Says He YouTubed How to Braid Daughter Everly's Hair When He Became a Single Dad
Two words: Girl. Dad.
By Iris Goldsztajn
'SATC' Star Evan Handler Says He'll "Welcome" Kim Cattrall's Return on His TV Set
She didn't see anyone while filming her cameo.
By Iris Goldsztajn
Kim Cattrall Didn't See or Speak to Her Costars When Filming 'And Just Like That' Cameo
That's some type of commitment.
By Iris Goldsztajn
The 80 Best K-Dramas You'll Be Completely Hooked On
Wait, how is it already 2 a.m.?
By Quinci LeGardye
Selena Gomez Revealed Meryl Streep Is Joining 'Only Murders in the Building' Season 3
Fans are losing it.
By Iris Goldsztajn
The 56 Best Musical Movies of All Time: Iconic Movie Musicals
All the dance numbers! All the show tunes!
By Amanda Mitchell
Sophia Brown on Joining the World of ‘The Witcher: Blood Origin’
The actress opens up about the “surreal process” of playing the Lark in the Netflix fantasy prequel.
By Quinci LeGardye
'Ginny & Georgia' Season 2: Everything We Know
Netflix owes us answers after that ending.
By Zoe Guy
The Unstoppable Alia Bhatt
Bollywood’s silver-screen darling is both at the top of her game and just getting started.
By Neha Prakash
29 Nude Movies With Porn-Level Nudity
All the nudity of porn, but with the plot and storylines of mainstream film.
By Kayleigh Roberts