James Van Der Beek Talks ‘CSI: Cyber’, Return To Drama

“I started training for this right as I started comedy about four or five years ago"

The Cast of 'CSI: Cyber' on CBS

James Van Der Beek Stars In 'CSI: Cyber'

James Van Der Beek in CSI: CYBER.
(Photo: CBS)

James Van Der Beek has an interesting personal improvement plan.

“Each year, I pick one thing that I suck at and I try to get good at it,” he says.

“It is good to humble yourself.”

His current challenge is stepping back into the world of TV drama after a pair of short-lived comedies (DON’T TRUST THE B IN APARTMENT 23, FRIENDS WITH BETTER LIVES).

James, 37, plays butt-kicking special agent Elijah Mundo in the new CBS series CSI: CYBER.

“My character is trained in battlefield forensics,” the former DAWSON’S CREEK star explains.

“He is former military, so he brings that set of skills to the table.  But he has also been trained in all the cyber special ops skill sets that he needs to keep up with the conversation and contribute.”

It’s the most physically demanding role yet for the father of three.

“I started training for this right as I started comedy about four or five years ago,” he tells me.

“I started with the first martial arts.”

“I kind of thought to myself, ‘What is the next step going to be after comedy?’  I try to stay ahead of the curve.”

Here’s more of what the TV heartthrob had to share in an exclusive interview with TheTVPage.com.

What has it been like for you to get back in to drama?
It has been great.  I started in drama.  I started doing theater in New York.  I have had a great time doing comedy for the last three years.  But this actually fits.  It fits like an old glove.  But it is also new for me.  I haven’t really played a man of this age because I haven’t really done a drama since I have come into this age in my life.

Were you ready for that?
I was.  I have actually been wanting to get into that for some time. So I have been training Krav Maga and Jujutsu and I’ve been working out in a gym and then this came into my life.

You are kind of the physical hero in this show.
I am.  When they need someone to kick down a door, I am the one they point to.

Did you ever think you would be that guy?  You have always had a certain sensitivity…
I feel like it has always been a trick that I have had in my bag.  And I feel like now my actual physical age and appearance has kind of caught up to my ambition.

What is the coolest thing you have gotten to do so far?
Diving in the lake after a baby was pretty cool.  Going down and breaking a window and pulling a baby out…  I have gotten to jump over cars, do chase scenes down streets…

Do you ever think, “I can’t do this one?”
No.  I prepare a lot.  I get up very early and I make sure to keep my body together.  I am in better shape than I have been in a while.

Could you actually protect someone?
I could do it better on TV!  [laughs]  I wouldn’t want to test it out in the real world.

Were you athletic when you were younger?
Yeah.  My dad was a baseball player.  I came in with a fairly good gene pool to be doing all this.

Was there ever concern when you did the comedies — especially playing a version of yourself — that I may be screwing up my chance to go back to drama?
You know what?  It did occur to me.  But at the same time I realized at that point that if you make decisions out of fear it can only hold you back and prevent you from doing things.  So yeah, by the time I decided to jump full on into comedy, I think I had been pretty humbled by the business to a degree where I was open to opportunity and really appreciative of the fact that I was being asked to stay in the game in any capacity.

That is hard to do when you start out young in this business…
It can be a little bit tricky.  Especially if you have success at a young age.  It can be tricky to figure out what to do after that.  But like I said, I have been very fortunate that they have let me stick around and reincarnate a few times.

What is your personal cyber-horror story?
Look,  individuals are very hackable.  It is very easy to hack any individual.  You have seen how corporations can be hacked, individuals are even easier.

Have you been hacked?
Probably.  But you don’t know until it all comes out.  I just proceed as if I have been.

Does this show scare the crap out of you then?
As a father it does.  I have had some of the scariest conversations I have every had about the kind of behavior that is allowed to find like minded individuals out there, online.  But at the same time, you can live your life in abject fear of getting cavities or you can brush your teeth at night.

Is this the longest interview that doesn’t mention DAWSON’S CREEK?
If you can gauge it by the number of questions that I am asked about it, then I guess you can say we are more past it than we have been.

CSI: CYBER premieres March 4 on CBS.

Sean Daly

Sean Daly

Editor-In-Chief at TheTVPage.com
Sean Daly is a veteran entertainment journalist.His work has appeared in People, Us Weekly, The Toronto Star and other top publications. He was the west coast TV reporter for The New York Post from 2008 - 2013. Sean is the author of Inside AGT: The Untold Stories of America's Got Talent and Teen Mom Confidential: Secrets and Scandals From MTV's Most Controversial Shows.
Sean Daly