POPsessions: James Van Der Beek on the Smell of Punk

Matt McDaniel
Yahoo Movies

Everything's coming up Van Der Beek!

With a role in the big-screen romantic drama "Labor Day" alongside Kate Winslet in theaters on Friday, an upcoming TV series "Friends With Better Lives," and the arrival this week of his third child, James Van Der Beek has got it pretty good.

The 36-year-old actor recently answered our pop culture questionairre via email and told us which mullet-sporting action hero he'd call for help, which furry fellow left him star-struck, and which pre-fame band introduced him to the true stench of punk rock.

What was the first movie you saw?

One of the Star Wars... probably "Jedi." Second movie was "Footloose," because my parents wanted to see it and the sitter must have cancelled. Thus began a lifetime love of playing chicken with tractors to soaring 80's ballads...

What movie do you absolutely always stop and watch if you see it on cable?

I'll never not watch "Children of Men." One of the most genius overlooked movies of the last ten years.

If you were kidnapped, what movie or TV character would you call to save you?

Can't go wrong with MacGyver. As kick-ass as Jack Bauer might be, that dude just seems to have the WORST luck. I don't need that kind of baggage brought in if I'm just looking to get un-kidnapped.

What's your TV guilty pleasure?

Inside the NFL. Watch it every week. Baffles my wife.

What was your first concert?

Green Day, 1994 - just as they were starting to blow up. They were doing a song for the movie I was in ("Angus"), and we got backstage passes. My Dad drove. Kevin Connolly (who was also in the movie) came too. We met the band after and that's when I learned what a real punk rock band smells like after a show.

What is your karaoke song?

"Love on the Rocks." Neil Diamond. Learned it when I was 4 or 5 because I liked "America," but was too young to move the needle on the record player after "America" was over and ended up learning (and liking) the entire "Jazz Singer album (have I started sounding old, yet?). I liked it so much I tried teaching it to my nursery school class so we could all sing it every day, but it didn't quite catch on the way I hoped it would... still don't understand why.

Have you ever done a choreographed dance from a music video?

No, but I did rip off a Derek Hough "toe-touch to forward roll" move when I had to dance in "Don't Trust the B in Apt 23." Watched some DWTS like a predator and totally stole it.

What book changed your life?

"Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" by James Joyce. Made me realize that being a freak had its utility. That was a relief.

What website do you visit when no one is watching?

C'mon... is there ever really no one watching?

Who is the most random person you follow on Twitter?

Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe is pretty sharp and hilarious. Got some fight in him, too.

Did you have a poster of a celeb on your wall as a kid/teen? Who?

Don Mattingly was my hero. Always inspired me the way "Donny Baseball" just played his heart out and brought it, every play. Tried to find the same poster for my FWBL ["Friends With Better Lives"] dressing room wall and couldn't. They need to put that sucker back into print.

Has another celeb ever made you star-struck when you met them? Who?

When I was at the height of teen idoldom, in the midst of the requisite "what does any of this really mean?" cynical phase, I passed Chewbacca on my way in the Nickelodeon Kid's Choice Awards. Didn't matter that it was most likely just a random tall dude in a smelly fur costume... I suddenly turned into an awestruck 8-year old. Was so nervous I could barely move. Kind of put it all back into perspective for me.

"Labor Day" in in theaters nationwide on Friday, and "Friends With Better Lives" premieres on March 31 at 9pm on CBS.