‘Dawson’s Creek’: Joshua Jackson Dyed His Hair Fire-Engine Red In Protest of the WB’s Rules

Teen dramas are some of the most popular shows on TV, and Dawson’s Creek was one of the shows that really pushed the genre.

The show is now considered a classic, both among dramas like this and on TV in general. The show brought many young actors (though notoriously, not teenaged) to prominence, received several awards and nominations, and even spin-offs (and parodies). However, with more and more actors speaking out about the way that production companies and networks treat them, more people are remembering times when actors on shows like these clashed with their networks. One major actor on Dawson’s Creek had a conflict like this — and decided to protest in a pretty unique way. What led this actor to protest his network like this?

Joshua Jackson was tired of WB appearance restrictions

Joshua Jackson
Joshua Jackson | Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

When Joshua Jackson, who played Pacey Witter in Dawson’s Creek, worked for the WB, he found that there were several restrictions on what he was allowed to do with his appearance. According to him, the WB, the network that ran Dawson’s Creek, wanted “complete control of [his] follicles,” and would not allow actors to do what they wanted. So, Jackson staged a protest: he dyed his hair “fire-engine red.”

The trouble was, Jackson probably didn’t use the best hair dye. According to Jackson, it only took around two weeks before most of the red dye had washed out and he was a reddish blonde, which he described as “a blonde grapefruit.” Still, it was a noticeable change, and while viewers might not have been as familiar with the ways networks control their actors at the time, his coworkers probably had an idea of what was up!

Many contracts have rules about what actors can do with their appearance

The actors of Dawson’s Creek aren’t the only ones who have to follow often restrictive rules about their appearances. Acting contracts can be restrictive about many things, from social media to signing for multiple movies to what they can say in interviews. Likewise, many actors face restrictive rules about their appearance. For instance, actors in the superhero films that have become ubiquitous and unavoidable in recent years are expected to maintain a certain physique that can actually be quite unhealthy. Other contracts might not allow actors to get piercings or tattoos, even though modern editing techniques and makeup can make those things invisible on the screen. Though many of these contracts stay relatively obscure, hopefully the general public can learn more about just what is expected in these massive productions, especially in large corporations like Disney and Viacom.

Joshua Jackson has had several major roles since ‘Dawson’s Creek’

Joshua Jackson did become more of a household name with Dawson’s Creek, though it wasn’t his first lead role. In 1992, he starred as Charlie Conway in The Mighty Ducks, and in 1999 he appeared in Cruel Intentions. Dawson’s Creek ended in 2003, but Jackson continued in several more films, including Americano and Shadows in the Sun. His TV career also continued, and in 2008 he landed a lead role on Fringe as Peter Bishop, that would continue until 2013. Right after this, he worked in a supporting role on The Affair.

In more recent years, he’s worked on miniseries: first Hulu’s Little Fires Everywhere in 2020 as Bill Richardson, then in 2021, on Dr. Death as the real-life serial killer and doctor Dr. Christopher Duntsch. It’s a pretty diverse career, and it’s earned him serious recognition — even if he made some questionable (but brave) hair choices in earlier years.

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