‘Dawson’s Creek’: Were Katie Holmes and Michelle Williams Better Friends off Screen Than Joey and Jen in Season 1?

When they signed on to star in the hit WB series Dawson’s Creek, actors Katie Holmes and Michelle Williams were both new to Hollywood. Today, they’re household names. Their characters had a rough start to their friendship. Was it the same for Williams and Holmes behind the scenes?

Katie Holmes and Michelle Williams starred in ‘Dawson’s Creek’

Michelle Williams & Katie Holmes during a celebration for the 100th episode of 'Dawson's Creek'
Michelle Williams & Katie Holmes during a celebration for the 100th episode of ‘Dawson’s Creek’ | Jim Spellman/WireImage

Holmes and Williams represented the female half of the core four teenagers at the center of Dawson’s Creek. Holmes portrayed Joey Potter, the tomboy who dreams of escaping her life in Capeside. Meanwhile, Williams played Jen Lindley, who moves from New York City to live with her grandparents.

Dawson’s Creek was both actors’ big breaks in show business. Holmes quickly earned roles in films such as Batman Begins, though her career hasn’t been full of hits. The rise to the top to A-list status was slower for Williams, but has had staying power: She’s a four-time Oscar nominee and an Emmy winner.

Joey and Jen struggled to establish a friendship in season 1

When Jen arrives in town in the pilot, Dawson (James Van Der Beek) takes an immediate liking to her. Joey, who’s long harbored a crush on the boy across the creek, sees him fall for the new girl next door. Because of this, she and Jen aren’t immediate friends. However, Jen tries hard to win over her new beau’s best friend.

When Jen and Dawson break up, the former finds a way to bond with Joey. Jen enters her in a beauty contest, albeit Joey’s disdain for pageantry, in hopes of helping her win money for college. At the end of the season, Joey catches Jen and Dawson in a compromising position, but then she and Dawson share a kiss.

Holmes said the 4 main cast members were close off screen

Michelle Williams (Jennifer Lindley), James Van Der Beek (Dawson Leery), Katie Holmes (Joey Potter) and Joshua Jackson (Pacey) in 'Dawson's Creek'
Michelle Williams (Jennifer Lindley), James Van Der Beek (Dawson Leery), Katie Holmes (Joey Potter) and Joshua Jackson (Pacey) in ‘Dawson’s Creek’ | Getty Images

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But despite the complicated on-screen dynamics, there was none of that animosity behind-the-scenes. Holmes once told Rolling Stone their early days on set were “so much fun,” saying, “We hung out all the time, and we just had a blast. We were new to television and had no idea what we were in for.”

The profile, published in 1998 ahead of Season 2, described the “deep bond” Holmes, Williams, Van Der Beek, and Joshua Jackson shared that year. “We’d all go out to dinner just about every night,” Jackson told the publication, “and then whenever a new kid would come in town, we’d feast on the new blood, take them out to dinner.”

Did the relationship dynamics change over time?

While Joey and Jen become friends in their own way, they never have a close relationship. And that dynamic may be similar to what it was like behind-the-scenes as the show went on. At least, that’s how it sounds in later Dawson’s Creek arrival Busy Philipps’ memoir This Will Only Hurt a Little.

“Maybe that was how it had been when the show first started, but by the fifth season, when I showed up, the main cast didn’t really hang out together that much and they obviously had some fairly intense dynamics going on,” the Audrey Liddell actor wrote. Philipps and Williams famously became best friends during the series.