‘Dawson’s Creek’: Brad Pitt Inspired 1 Main Character’s Look

One of the most beloved fictional characters of the late ’90s and early 2000s, Dawson Leery (James Van Der Beek), is known for his love of Steven Spielberg, signature flannel shirt, and status as a ’90s teen heartthrob. The titular character of Dawson’s Creek, Dawson, and his friends navigate their teenage years full of love, heartbreak, and all of the high school and college drama one could ever dream of in the beloved show. The series is known for launching the career of Van Der Beek, as well as high-profile actors Katie Holmes and Michelle Williams, who played Joey Potter and Jennifer Lindley respectively. Both Joey and Jennifer dated Dawson at various points during the six seasons of the show, and the set was full of behind the scenes romances.

The heartthrob Van Der Beek became the crush of all crushes for many teenagers of the time, but he almost did not get the iconic role due to his real life, pre-Dawson hairstyle. 

(L-R) Meredith Monroe, James Van der Beek, Michelle Williams, Katie Holmes, and Kerr Smith smiling in front of a white backgrounf
(L-R) Meredith Monroe, James Van der Beek, Michelle Williams, Katie Holmes, and Kerr Smith | Brenda Chase/Getty Images

The evolution of Dawson’s character and style throughout the years

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Over the six seasons and 128 episodes of Dawson’s Creek, Dawson went through a number of changes in both his personality and appearance. The character began as an idealistic young romantic who believed that the entire world could be viewed through the lens of a Spielberg film. He even sees himself as a character in a movie, which he uses to rationalize the major changes that occur in his life throughout the years. As Dawson matures, he begins to realize that he could use his life as an inspiration for his art, instead of living in it as a fantasy. Dawson makes several films during the show, many of which star his friends and reflects his and their lives. 

How Brad Pitt inspired Dawson’s season one look

What guy didn’t want to look like Brad Pitt in the ’90s? Much like Van Der Beek would become in the future, Pitt was known as one of the most attractive actors in the world in the late 1990s and was the inspiration for Dawson’s first season haircut. In 1998, Brad Pitt was still a young, yet already hugely successful actor on his way to even larger super-stardom. Van Der Beek, who is and was known for his overall handsomeness, needed to model himself after Pitt to secure his role as Dawson.

According to an interview with The Daily Beast, Van Der Beek was almost never cast as Dawson because of his “prepubescent Jesus” haircut. The young actor did not enter the room with confidence, and his hairstyle was not the look of a future television superstar. To fix this, Van Der Beek and his hairstylist opened an issue of Vanity Fair and saw a picture of Pitt from his movie The Devil’s Own. This haircut and other aspects of Dawson’s look and personality would change in later years as the character and actor grew and changed. 

Major moments in Dawson’s evolution  

As many teens do, Dawson went through a number of trials and tribulations throughout his adolescence. Developing feelings for his best friend, dealing with the death of a parent, and many other difficulties challenged and changed Dawson throughout the years. One way that this change was represented was the change of decoration in one of the most iconic and recognizable sets on the show.

Dawson’s bedroom was known and loved by fans for its signature decor, which is almost completely comprised of Steven Spielberg film posters, which Spielberg himself approved of. Dawson’s room was the room every young film-lover would dream of, but a difficult period of Dawson’s life caused him to completely rearrange his personal space. After a falling out with Joey, Dawson made a series of major changes, including drastic changes to his room’s look. This moment resonated with many fans, as it showed Dawson was trying to close the door on Joey.