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Much like their Party of Five counterparts before them, the cast members of WB's Dawson's Creek learned that network television is a great place to be young, beautiful, and sexually frank when their series generated a tidal wave of interest among teenage viewers following its January 1998 premiere. Though she came to the show with considerably less professional experience than her castmates, actress Katie Holmes quickly distinguished herself with her tart-tongued delivery and emotional vibrancy. Along with legions of youthful couch potatoes, a slew of Hollywood producers and directors did a double-take, and the doe-eyed, long-legged Holmes filled her first summer hiatus from the daily grind of series television by making three movies.

Unlike Joey, her streetwise, semi-orphaned Dawson's Creek alter ego, Holmes grew up in a stable, middle-class household where her supportive parents attentively shepherded her through the earliest stages of her career. The youngest child of five, she was born and raised in Toledo, Ohio, and spent her high-school years at an all-girls Catholic academy. The summer following her 17th birthday, a connection with a Toledo modeling agency led the unassuming schoolgirl to a 1996 modeling convention in New York. While there, she was approached by a Los Angeles based talent scout who invited her to spend six weeks in Southern California attending auditions. Though her father initially resisted the idea, the pleadings of friends and family members won him over and the would-be actress headed for Hollywood, with her mother as chaperone.

Many an aspiring thespian has answered dozens of casting calls before landing that first substantial role, but the blithely inexperienced Holmes was snatched up on her first try, an audition for director Ang Lee's The Ice Storm. After spending half the day in line with a horde of other hopefuls, she finally had her chance to read lines in front of a video camera. Almost immediately, the inexperienced young actress was offered a role as Tobey Maguire's wealthy uptown girlfriend. Talk about your charmed lives. Though she quickly set to learning the ropes, Holmes was so thoroughly green when she arrived on the set that when Lee invited her to his trailer midway through her first day on the set, she thought he had decided to fire her. In reality, the director just wanted to have a harmless discussion of her role in the movie.

After filming wrapped, Holmes returned to Ohio in order to finish high school. Her newfound interest in acting continued to bloom even away from the fertile soil of a movie set, and the following summer found her vamping it up as Lola in a local production of Damn Yankees. With an ear tuned to the Hollywood casting grapevine, Holmes got wind of the casting call for Scream scribe Kevin Williamson's debut television series, Dawson's Creek, and decided to take a shot at one of the available roles. With her mother's help, she prepared a videotaped screen test in the family's rec room and mailed it to Warner Bros. A solicitous Williamson viewed the homemade demo with no great hope of its yielding even a callback — much less a bona fide starlet-in-the-making — and was astonished by what he saw. Williamson asked Holmes to come out to the West Coast for an in-person audition, and she (perhaps a mite naively) explained that she was busy with the community theater production of Damn Yankees, and asked if the meeting could wait until the play finished its run. Fortunately for her career, Williamson decided it could.

When Holmes eventually made it to L.A. for the face-to-face meeting, Williamson and his co-producers knew immediately that she was right for their show, despite the fact that a scant year had passed since her debut and only professional credit in The Ice Storm. Though its premiere ended up getting moved back by several months, Dawson's Creek won critical raves before it ever aired an episode, thanks largely to a widely circulated advance tape of its pilot. The buzz only increased in volume after the show finally made it into WB's hit-starved primetime lineup in a prime spot right after the network's one success story, the ultra-hip Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The show's cast of uniquely-perhaps supernaturally-loquacious and candidly horny adolescents quickly became the objects of both teen worship and parental outcry. The teens found much to identify with in the convoluted relationships of Joey, Dawson (James Van Der Beek), Jennifer (Michelle Williams), and Pacey (Joshua Jackson), and perhaps it was the suspicion that the show's long-winded speeches expressed stirrings their own kids felt that riled the parents. Teen-savvy Hollywood producers took note of the cast's popularity and Holmes was in movie theaters as the canny heroine of the teen horror flick Disturbing Behavior mere weeks after Dawson's Creek's first-season finale. The following year witnessed her in comic form alongside Scott Wolf and Jay Mohr in director Doug (Swingers) Liman's Go, a crime caper that follows the aftermath of a bungled drug deal. Next up, she appeared in a starring role opposite Molly Ringwald and Vivica A. Fox in Williamson's directorial debut, Teaching Mrs. Tingle.

While Dawson's Creek is filming, Holmes lives by herself in an apartment in sleepy Wilmington, N.C., which stands in for the show's fictional Capeside, Mass. Off the set she pals around with her castmates and boyfriend Chris Klein, and indulges her cravings for Starbucks lattes and Jelly Bellies. She was accepted to New York's Columbia University, where she plans to major in English, but deferred her enrollment until her acting schedule becomes more settled.

 

"I wanted to be an actress, but I'm from Ohio. I told myself, 'Get a grip.'"

"My dad always says, 'Do your best, and if they don't like it, s--- on them'".

"I like doing day shoots better than night — getting up early and getting home around 7 p.m. Night shoots are fun once in a while because you bond in weird ways. You're totally out of it, and you start talking about the weirdest things."

"My favorite movie when I was growing up was Pretty in Pink, and I just worked with Molly Ringwald [on Killing Mrs. Tingle]. I was totally starstruck the whole time. It was bizarre having lunch with her. I told her I was a big fan, and she was like, 'Oh, thanks,' probably thinking the whole time, You're such a freak."

"It was a difficult, intimidating thing for me to do. But let's just say it was an interesting experience and the nudity wasn't gratuitous."

"It's flattering when 13 year olds come up to me. I was the same way. I guess I still am… But it's kind of scary when other 19 year olds look at me funny because they've seen me on TV. I want to say, 'I'm normal. I'll be your friend. Be my friend.'"

"My friends at home are into rap. I'm like, yeah (bobs head), trying to fit in. They're like, Katie, you're such a nerd. I'm like, I know I'm a nerd. I never said I was cool. I'm always the girl that's like, what? What's going on?"

"I really can't deny it, I am who I am. I'm pretty normal. I'm not that smooth type of girl. I run into things, I trip, I spill food. I say stupid things...I really don't have it all together."

"I think tripping alot, like when I'm at a crosswalk and my ankle gives out or something. It's like, 'Good one Katie. You can dress her up but you can't take her out.'"

"I'm not the easiest person to live with. I'm kind of a slob. So for me to consider a roommate, it would have to be one of my sisters or something."

"I'm definitely a messy person...I know where everything is but I just can't organize. I don't make lists and find scripts on the laundry machine, and under my bed, or in the bathroom, kitchen. It's bad, I really need to take control."

"I have some road rage inside of me. Traffic, especially in L.A., is a pet peeve of mine."

"I'm easy going as a girlfriend," she says. "I'll go out for a chat and have some junk food. I think I can handle the girlfriend part. I can take jokes, and I don't mind people having fun. I'm also a good listener and I make a good shoulder to cry on."

"One time I got caught in a rainstorm with somebody, and we were dancing in the street. It was pretty romantic."

"It's kind of fun being the cute, little one. In fact, I'm finding it hard to grow out of that."

"I know this sounds dorky, but I'm always having this out-of-body experience with my career. I can't wait to write it down. I can't wait to tell my grandchildren. It's amazing."

"I've kept in touch with a lot of my high school friends. When I'm home, I see them. It's really cool."

"I think every little girl dreams about her wedding. I used to think I was going to marry Tom Cruise."

"It's important to try to be creative. I paint, and my mom is going to teach me how to make clothes. I think people should have passions."

 

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