The Telefile
James Van Der Beek Stirs Up a <i>Storm</I> in a Q&A

This Sunday night, The Storm airs the first half of its four-hour miniseries on NBC, which is about some nerdy scientists (James Van Der Beek -- aka Dawson -- and Rich Sommer of Mad Men fame) who stumble on a way to control the weather, which of course rich guys and the military (in the form of Treat Williams and David James Elliot) find a way to exploit. Luke Perry plays another scientist who has been burned by the weather before, and Teri Polo stars as an ambitious reporter trying to figure out why there are snowstorms in the summer and whatnot. Your standard disaster fare. James Van Der Beek gamely joined a conference call the other day to talk to reporters about this film, and what happens when two former teen stars get together in one movie. A perfect storm, perhaps?

You've had some really diverse roles this past year so where exactly does this one fit in?
James Van Der Beek: I was fascinated by the idea of a scientist who's kind of in love with the exploration and, you know, follows his knowledge as far as he can. But then all of a sudden creates something that somebody else can use for other kinds of nefarious purposes.

This guy created this technology with the best of intentions and then somebody else took it and is using it for their own power. And so it puts him in a difficult situation. It's a guy, you know, trying to do the right thing when the right thing isn't entirely clear. And it just seemed like a lot of fun.

How was it working with such a great cast?
Van Der Beek: It was fun. Every day there was somebody new to talk to and somebody else's brain I could pick. I had a very good time.

Is there a lot of action in the series?
Van Der Beek: Yes, there's a ton of action. So like I was outside underneath the rain towers about every night. It was a very, very wet shoot for sure.

Do you think you'll be making a return appearance on One Tree Hill at all?
Van Der Beek: I don't know. They gave me a pretty good send off with the helicopter and everything. But I don't know, I had a great time down there. I might go down and direct one, we'll see.

Could you tell us a little bit about the effects in the miniseries and green screen work versus practical -- what were they like for you?
Van Der Beek: I tell you the rain was real. There was no green screen rain in this thing. We really didn't have to do many green screen issues at all. Really a lot of it was just kind of practical and right there, everything from the lightning flashes to the wind and even explosions -- if they were in frame with me they were there on the day. So it was a pretty real environment. I didn't have to use too much imagination for a lot of it.

Do you have any special interest or a passion for environmental issues of any kind?
Van Der Beek: I'm pretty much your average energy saving light bulbs, recycling citizen. I haven't got involved in any charities but it is something that I'll look online and go through the newspaper and constantly kind of try to figure out how to reduce the carbon footprint wherever I can.

And, you know, I'm very fascinated by this -- by all the new technology out there. I feel like we're at a very, very interesting time. I mean we're -- got all this economic upheaval which I think is a really good reason and excuse to kind of reinvent how we look at energy and how we look at business. It is an opportunity, you know, to keep it as efficient as possible. Not just because it's the right thing to do but because it just makes the most sense economically and for the planet. So, you know, I'm a very avid bystander.

Growing up in Connecticut did you have some kind of weather that you would have changed if you could have?
Van Der Beek: There's three things I do not miss about living in Connecticut: January, February and March. I would certainly do away with that kind of post-winter, pre-spring cold, dry wasteland, yes.

Did you and Luke Perry get to talk much on set about working on popular teen dramas?
Van Der Beek: I tried to get as much out of him as I could. I was fascinated. He was -- I think he's a little bit further past it so it wasn't as present for him. But, yes, it was, it was really interesting. It always is to talk to somebody who's been through something so unique like that. Because it's something you could only really know from the inside. So it's fun. There's kind of the mutual understanding for having -- there's something bizarre that really doesn't make sense on so many levels. But it was, you know, it's fun. And Luke is a great guy. He's got a great perspective on it. And, yes, I really did enjoy the time in between setups.

Do you have any crazy weather stories, traveling or anything like that?
Van Der Beek: I just remember in North Carolina one year right after I'd bought property too, we had about three hurricanes in one season. I remember hearing that the one hurricane relief concert had been canceled due to another hurricane. And so that was pretty crazy. You just realize how helpless you are especially as a new property owner, you buy a house and you get it checked out and, you know, you feel like you've kind of made your mark here in some way. And then an act of God just comes up the coast and has the potential to just completely wipe it clean. Weather like that is certainly humbling.

Would it be fair to say you've taken a break since Dawson's Creek from lead roles? And this is kind of a reemergence for you? Van Der Beek: Yes, I mean, I was pretty burnt out after six years on a series. And I don't know that I was really ready to jump back in. One thing that's happened, I will say in the past year, year and a half is I've really started to rediscover my passion for acting and for being a part of a story and in a leading role capacity. I'm really having a good time right now.

You mentioned before that by the time you got to the end of your run at Dawson's you were pretty burned out. Was there a way that that could have been avoided or is that just the nature of the beast?
Van Der Beek: Oh boy. I think, wow -- it's kind of a complicated question. I mean, I think really the only thing to kind of avoid burnout is a level of appreciation that -- and I don't know that you can really come to without stepping away from it for a little while. The hours are so intense. And the opportunities kind of come so fast and furious that it's almost impossible to really, you know, be able to appreciate them to the level that you should.

I was doing movies during the hiatuses and doing movies during and then doing press and photo shoots and all that kind of stuff. You know, and it was a six-year run. Is there anything I could have done to avoid it?

You know, I don't know. I mean, I think now that I'm older and can kind of have a little bit different perspective on it I'd like to think now that I can probably handle it, not be burned out for so long. I think also it started for me at age 20. So I wasn't in the place of really being able to handle everything that was thrown at me. And, you know, I came out okay but what I would say for anybody going through it, wow just focus on the work, keep good people around you. And don't, don't believe the hype either way, good or bad, just really keep it all about the work and make sure the people you're surrounding yourself with are just high quality human beings and you should be okay.




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