James Van Der Beek's coming-of-age role as Dawson Leery on "Dawson's Creek" in the late '90s put him on the path to stardom. Now the actor is back and making headlines for the first time in a long time with his new Viceland mockumentary series, "What Would Diplo Do?" — which premieres on Aug. 3, 2017. In honor of his big comeback, we're taking a look at some of the most nostalgic photos of James from back in the day…
Look how young James Van Der Beek was! At 21, he landed the role of Capeside, Massachusetts, teen Dawson Leery on The WB's hit drama "Dawson's Creek." He starred as the series' sensitive aspiring film director who's in love with the girl next door, Joey Potter (Katie Holmes), for six seasons. His character believes that all the answers to life's problems can be found in a Steven Spielberg film.
Here, James Van Der Beek is pictured with his fellow protagonists on "Dawson's Creek" in 1998 — Katie Holmes as Joey Potter, Michelle Williams as Jen Lindley, and Joshua Jackson as Pacey Witter. The fictional show followed the close-knit group of friends from high school through college.
James Van Der Beek's character, Dawson Leery, was always caught in a starry-eyed haze when it came to childhood best friend Joey Potter, played by Katie Holmes. The actors' TV chemistry (seen here in 2001) is hard to forget — although it should be said that Katie had way more chemistry with fellow castmate Joshua Jackson, who ended up winning her heart both on-screen and off.
In 1999, James Van Der Beek appeared in his first major movie, "Varsity Blues," which held the No. 1 spot at the U.S. box office for its first two weeks of release. In this coming-of-age flick, he played Jonathan Moxon, a brainy high school quarterback growing up in the heartland of Texas.
His first major movie premiere! James Van Der Beek looked sharp at the premiere for "Varsity Blues" in Los Angeles in January 1999.
James Van Der Beek is giving us all the right vibes in this press room photo! The young actor won the best male breakthrough performance prize for his work in "Varsity Blues" at the MTV Movie Awards in 1999.
As one of the WB's hottest stars, James Van Der Beek was in demand at all WB shindigs. The star smiled here at the channel's Fall 2000 TV line-up event in New York City in May 2000.
Another year, another WB event! This time James Van Der Beek showed up at a Warner Brothers event in New York City in May 2001 with a brand new bleached blond 'do!
Back in August 2002 James Van Der Beek took part in a celebrity baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. We have to say, he looks pretty good in Dodger blue!
While on "Dawson's Creek," James Van Der Beek made a major departure from his straight-laced character when he starred in the 2002 film "Rules of Attraction." He played the dark role of Sean Bateman, a drug dealer who has a crush on classmate Lauren.
The end of an era! The last episode of "Dawson's Creek" aired in May 2003, and the cast reunited at a Warner Brothers event to celebrate the teen drama's impressive run.
After "Dawson's Creek" finished, James Van Der Beek was still in high demand at the hottest Hollywood events. He attended the Vanity Fair party after the Academy Awards in Los Angeles in February 2004.
Now that he didn't have to play the polished, preppy Dawson Leery, James Van Der Beek was free to switch up his style. In 2005 he debuted this scruffy, sloppier look at the "Guess Who" premiere in Los Angeles that March.
The scruffy look continued for James Van Der Beek into 2006. He attended the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah that year and added a beanie — which seemed to be his accessory of choice that year.
Back to the small screen! James Van Der Beek made a guest appearance on "Ugly Betty" back in 2007, looking clean cut and adorable!
James Van Der Beek returned to the baseball field in June 2007, taking part in another celebrity baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
James Van Der Beek showed off a spiky new hairstyle at an event in Los Angeles in October 2008.
James Van Der Beek became a recurring character on NBC's medical drama "Mercy" in 2010, but the show was cancelled after one season. He portrayed Dr. Joe Briggs, the new director of the hospital's ICU.
From 2012 to 2013, James Van Der Beek played a fictionalized version of himself on the ABC comedy "Don't Trust the B—- in Apartment 23." On the show, he uses his "Dawson's Creek" following to get ahead personally and professionally. He co-starred with Krysten Ritter, who played Chloe, a party girl who frequently rotates roommates.