Also Credited As:Josh Jackson, Joshua Carter Jackson
|Joshua Carter Jackson on June 11, 1978 in Vancouver, British Columbia, CA|
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He was born Joshua Carter Jackson on June 11, 1978, in Vancouver, BC, with a foot virtually in the door of show business, as his mother, Fiona Jackson, was an Irish-born casting agent, producer and director. Before turning a year old, he had already appeared on the big screen as an infant in the George C. Scott horror flick, "The Changeling" (1980); the result of his mother serving as second unit director on the production. His father, John Carter, a U.S.-born ad executive, moved the family to Topanga, CA, just north of Los Angeles, when Jackson was two, but within a few years, the couple divorced. Jackson, his mother and his little sister, Aisleagh, moved briefly to San Francisco, CA followed by Washington state, on a multi-stopover return to Vancouver. Along the way, Joshua dipped his t s in the arts, joining the San Francisco Boys Chorus during their stay there, and later appearing in the Seattle Children's Theatre's production of "Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." His mother, well knowing the financial uncertainty of the trade, reputedly tried to nip his growing affinity for acting in the bud by bringing him to a commercial audition at age 11, but he wound up winning a role in a salty snack ad.
With a number of commercials under his belt, he netted his first movie role playing Peter Berg's flashback alter ego in the 1991 dysfunctional family tearjerker, "Crooked Hearts," but would score his breakthrough role the next year playing Charlie, the loveable captain of a junior hockey team that would give birth to one of Disney's most ambitious merchandising tangents, "The Mighty Ducks" (1992). It was paint-by-numbers Disney fare, about a hardhearted lawyer (Emilio Estevez) ordered to do community service by coaching a group of misfit kids, who, of course, coalesce into winners as their coach redeems himself. The initial film's success necessitated sequels, with Jackson coming back for both: "D2: The Mighty Ducks" (1994) and "D3: The Mighty Ducks" (1996). The final film followed the grown kids to college where they find themselves scrubs again and Charlie grapples with the possibility that his glory days may be behind him. With Estevez only making a cameo in the film, Variety noted that Jackson "graduates with grace from foil to front man, demonstrating a commanding, likable personality." Post-"Ducks," Jackson scored some stock-in-trade kid and teen parts in both TV and minor feature films, as well as went through some w s of his own, including getting expelled from two different schools in Vancouver over attitude and attendance issues. He eventually dropped out of high school and earned a GED. As he approached his twenties, he would ride teen angst out of the quicksand that child stardom too often could be, to become one of network TV's breakout stars.
In 1998, The WB network and hot horror screenwriter Kevin Williamson cast Jackson as Pacey Witter, the designated supporting, misunderstood bad boy, on the teen drama "Dawson's Creek." Set in coastal New England and filmed in and around Wilmington, NC, the show ostensibly followed the travails, loves and life lessons of Dawson Leery, an aspiring teen filmmaker played by James Van Der Beek. The show's snarky, bright-beyond-their-years friends - all spouting Williamson-signature pop-cultural savvy, as when Pacey insists "'Mighty Ducks' was a great flick" - became more co-leads than supporting characters, specifically Pacey and Joey (Katie Holmes). Whereas he began as Dawson's standard sex-obsessed best-friend "doofus," as one critic called him, Jackson and Williamson evolved Pacey into a more rugged, disarmingly honest and deceptively wise wise-ass, prompting some of the show's devoted fans to unofficially re-dub the show "Pacey's Creek." Much of the show's early, ample sexual tension - for which many right-wing critics made it a "family values" whipping horse - revolved around the will-they-or-won't-they arc of Dawson and Joey, yet Pacey and J y wound up being the first to consummate their mutual affections. In addition, by end of the first season, Jackson and Holmes had sparked up a relationship in real life. While the show garnered more buzz than substantial numbers, hovering around No. 80 in the Nielsen ratings its first season, it did pull the best audiences the fledgling network had seen and drew well enough among its teen/young adult target for The WB to call it a hit.
Hot off his TV success, Jackson also began garnering a flurry of big screen supporting roles, including parts in scary fare like Bryan Singer's psychological thriller "Apt Pupil" (1998) and the Williamsonesque teen-populated horror flick "Urban Legend" (1998), as well as soapy young adult melodramas like "Cruel Intentions" (1999) and "Gossip" (2000). He would also score his first top-billing in "The Skulls" (2000), playing a student at a prestigious Eastern college running afoul of the powers-that-be by digging into the shadowy power-brokering fraternity based on Yale's secretive Skull & Bones society. His "It" status would be cemented in March 2000 when, still only 21, he hosted NBC's gray lady of weekend sketch comedy, "Saturday Night Live" (1975- ), then later guest-starred on one of his longtime favorite shows, "The Simpsons," as a heartthrob environmental activist on whom Lisa Simpson develops a crush.
Behind the scenes, he did some coming-of-age of his own. After the fourth season of "Dawson's Creek," he took a summer trip to Europe and even ran with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. On the downside, Jackson's real bad boy side came out in November 2002, when he got drunk at a Carolina Hurricanes hockey game and wound up in a tussle with an arena security guard. He was arrested and blew a boozy 0.14 blood-alcohol content, eventually pleading guilty to a drunk-and-disruptive charge in exchange for a sentence of attending an "alcohol education" program and doing 24 hours of community service work. When "Dawson's Creek" wrapped in 2003, with Pacey and Joey winding up together despite Jackson and Holmes having gone their separate ways in real life, he had a couple of minor roles in indie films under his belt, plus an appearance in the award-winning innovative docudrama, "The Laramie Project" (HBO, 2002).
The next few years would see him become a resident of the indie film world and return briefly to the stage. In early 2005, he scored both critical and box office success in his London stage debut of the David Mamet play "A Life in the Theatre," in which he co-starred with theater heavyweight Patrick Stewart. He broached familiar subject matter in "Americano" (2005), which set him as an American post-collegiate youth doing an archetypal walkabout through Spain and reconsidering the prepatterned life awaiting him back in the States. Self-realization would become a theme for his work, cropping up again as he played a slacker coming to grips with the death of his father in "Aurora Borealis" (2005) - which later won him the Best Actor award at Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival - and in "Shadows in the Sun" (2005), which saw him as buttoned-down publishing executive tracking down a reclusive author (Harvey Keitel) and falling in love with his daughter (Claire Forlani). The latter received tepid-at-best reviews, but Variety, even while panning the film, did note that Jackson displayed an "easy winning charm that g s some way toward alleviating the banality." He also rejoined Williamson for a supporting slot in the horror outing "Cursed" (2005) written by the latter and directed by Wes Craven, reunited with Emilio Estevez for his directorial turn on the ensemble historical RFK drama "Bobby" (2006), and also took the lead in another horror flick, "Shutter" (2008). In 2008, Jackson shepherded his first film as an executive producer called "One Week" (2008), in which he starred as well.
Although he had remained wary of returning to series television, Jackson relented when the opportunity cropped up to work on the latest project of hitmaker J.J. Abrams - creator of "Lost" (ABC, 2005- ) - called "Fringe" (Fox, 2008- ). Loosely billed as Fox's heir to its longtime sci-fi/mystery series "The X-Files" (1993-2002) - of which Jackson claimed to be a big fan - the weekly adventures into realms of "fringe science," Abrams' penchant for dynamic story arcs and the darkness of the character drew Jackson in. The character, Peter, a dysfunctional genius reluctantly drafted into an ad hoc team composed of an attractive FBI agent and his own genius father who is not what he appears. With "Fringe" shooting in New York City, Jackson, who had lived in Vancouver throughout his career, established a residence in Manhattan, sharing an apartment with his girlfriend, German model-actress Diane Kruger.