Cue the Paula Cole theme song!
It's been 20 years since Dawson's Creek aired its first episode on The WB, and to celebrate its anniversary, Entertainment Weekly reunited eight fan favorites to share their memories of the teen drama. The magazine released four solo covers, each featuring one of the lead actors—Katie Holmes, Joshua Jackson, James Van Der Beek and Michelle Williams—and one group cover. (Williams shared her solo cover with BFF Busy Phillips, who starred as Audrey Liddell.)
And in addition to conducting exclusive interviews with Holmes (Joey Potter), Jackson (Pacey Witter), Van der Beek (Dawson Leery) and Williams (Jen Lindley), the magazine took pictures and filmed videos of fellow cast members Meredith Monroe (Andie McPhee), Mary Beth Peil (Evelyn "Grams" Ryan), John Wesley Shipp (Mitch Leery), Kerr Smith (Jack McPhee) and more.
"I think we've all sort of seen each other over the years, but not everybody all together," Holmes says of running into her former colleagues since its end. "And never for long enough."
Dawson's Creek was an instant smash hit, propelling its four unknown leads into superstardom. "I was actually with James when he signed his first autograph," remembers Mary-Margaret Humes, who played Dawson's mother, Gail Leery. "My husband and I had taken James up to Universal City in L.A. to watch a movie. This girl came up to James and said, 'Excuse me, aren't you that guy on Dawson's Creek? May I have your autograph?' He signed it and said, 'Oh my God, Mary-Margaret, that was my first!' And, of course, my thought was 'Oh, honey, hang on.'"
Williams, now a four-time Oscar nominee, looks back at the series fondly. "I loved that we were able to get in there in those formative years for people. That's why people, I think, are so connected to it. When something affects you while you were growing up, it kind of stays in there forever," she says. "When you're so permeable and open and trying to figure out who you are and what's going on, whatever reaches you in those moments really becomes part of you."
Created by Kevin Williamson, Dawson's Creek ran for six seasons from 1998 to 2003. While the cast happily got back together for Entertainment Weekly, don't expect to see them returning to Capeside onscreen. "What would we do?! One of the reasons we did the finale five years in the future was to put a button on it. What would a reunion be? What would that look like? Why would you? I don't see it and I don't feel it. The finale was such a beautiful moment in time and the show was always meant to be a nostalgia piece," Williamson explained to The Hollywood Reporter in January, adding, "Let it stay there and live in its nostalgia and its nostalgic universe."
And, as Jackson reminded Ellen DeGeneres in 2016, "We killed Michelle at the end of the season." Plus, "It's been a really long time. For anyone who was actually a fan of Dawson's to actually see the four of us on camera again might be a little bit shocking and heartbreaking. We are not cute kids anymore. It's been a long time," Jackson said. "I mean, we're holding up OK, but I think if you put the four of us now next to the four of us then, it might be a little shocking."
For more from the reunion, pick up Entertainment Weekly's new issue, on newsstands Friday.