When you think Sky1 family comedy, you don't automatically think of Dawson's Creek icon and former teen idol James Van Der Beek, right?
So we were surprised – but delighted – when we heard that the Beek would be appearing in new sitcom Carters Get Rich, which kicks off tonight.
Speaking to Digital Spy, he seems aware that his casting is slightly out of left-field: "When you think 'British sitcom', you don't think 'James Van Der Beek', huh? Well, I aim to change all that!"
James plays eccentric US billionaire Trent Zebrisky, who turns 11-year-old Harry Carter (Rio Chambers) and his family into millionaires overnight when he purchases the young prodigy's new app.
"Just through the course of this crazy life that I've been lucky enough to lead, I've gotten to know a number of these tech billionaire entrepreneurs. So in the back of my head, I've always thought it'd be really fun to play one of these dudes."
As for being an American outsider in a thoroughly British sitcom, Van Der Beek says it's "fun to be the foreigner".
"Especially in this – putting this borderline sociopathic billionaire into the middle of this family, raining millions of pounds upon them, it's just fun to be that guy!
"He has no shame – and those are the most fun characters to play, because you can let your id run wild and everybody has to roll with it!"
Van Der Beek dips in and out of Carters Get Rich – he was on set for "only a few days" and jokes that "about 60% of the character is just punch-drunk jet lag".
But while doing a British sitcom might be something different, the role of arrogant Trent is the latest in a string of comedic roles that he's taken on in the past six years.
The turning point for a man who once seemed typecast after six years of Dawson's Creek was a 2011 Funny or Die skit called Dawson Leery: Asshole for Hire, which turned his "sensitive do-gooder" image on its head.
"That was right at a time in my life when I was looking at the next phase of my career and thought, 'Well, what do I want to do?'
"I always wanted to try comedy and so I went to Funny or Die and said, 'Hey I wanna play – whaddya guys got?'."
The sketch "led directly" to Van Der Beek playing a cocky, womanising version of himself on the short-lived, much-loved Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23.
"That was a great experience," he enthuses. "Krysten Ritter has comedic chops unlike anybody, at least of our generation. Doing that skit just opened up this whole other colour on the palette."
Now Van Der Beek says he's in a better position to "be able to take jobs because I love them" – though he's "getting used to the fact now that Google exists" and that his entire 25-year acting portfolio, the good and the bad, is easy to access.
"I've done some crap movies! " he laughs. "Some things you do because you really believe in them, and some things you do because you've got a mortgage! Careers ebb and flow – and there are definitely a couple of things in the 'ebb' period."
James Van Der Beek stars in Carters Get Rich, beginning tonight at 8pm on Sky1.
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