Dawson's Creek Mary-Margaret Humes: 'We were just very open and honest about sexuality'
Interview with Dawson's Creek Mary-Margaret Humes who played Gail Leery
So Mary, let’s get one thing out the way first, were you a team Dawson or a team Pacey girl?!
OK! The secrets out, I was team Pacey!
It has been almost 20 years since Dawson’s aired in the UK and the phenomenon still continues. What do you think it was that made it such a success?
Oh gosh! I think it was so successful because it was Kevin Williamson’s voice. It was truly his adolescent life that we were presenting. I mean James was Dawson and Joey was Kevin’s best friend when they were growing up. The writing was just so personal and when you make something so personal it touches the heartstrings and it becomes more universal and the writing was smart and James and Katie were so pure and their acting was so untainted. We were sequestered down in Wilmington North Carolina, away from the limelight, and the first 13 episodes were actually shot before the premiere of the show. So nobody started to believe their own publicity, no one knew what we had so when the show actually premiered and I think 13m viewers watched, everyone was like “wow, we’ve got something here!”
Mitch and Gail were the parents everybody either wanted to have, or the parents everybody fancied. Why do you think that was? Why did teen audiences sort of love them so dearly?
Because they were honest, I think. They treated the kids like they were adults. We certainly weren’t the TV parents of the 50s or 60s. I remember John-Wesley saying to me one day that Gail and Mitch are like the Ozzie and Harriet of a new millennium. Now the people that watched the show don’t even know who Ozzie and Harriet were, it’s a famous show back in the 50s and 60s of the perfect family life, and our family was not without flaws. We were just very open and honest, about sexuality.
We can see on your Instagram that you’re still very much in touch with John-Wesley and Meredith Monroe, but how about the rest of the guys? Are you still in touch with James and Josh and Katie and Michelle and Busy?
Well, let me see. I did see Meredith a few weeks ago she’s doing wonderfully. John Wesley and I talk all the time. The last time I saw James, let me see… when his first daughter Olivia was born, I was at the baby shower, but I think that’s 7 years ago. And then I saw him, he was performing in a play here in Los Angeles, maybe three years ago but you know he’s busy making babies in New York! Katie, my little Katie, she went on a whirlwind tour! We haven’t spoken but I think eventually she will come back into my life because she and I were very, very close. I’d say between the cast members Katie and Meredith and I were the closest. Now Michelle’s very shy,, a funny little story about Michelle, I was able to take her to a Cher concert over in Raleigh-Durham back in the second season. She, John-Wesley and I got front row tickets because my girlfriend works with Cher. So we got the venue a little bit late and we snuck in and Cher had given us front row centre, which I had no idea, and in the concert people started recognising us and Michelle got very nervous and grabbed my hand and said “I don’t want to go out afterwards.” So we got back to the hotel and hopped in bed and watched TV. I mean that’s Michelle, that was a little private thing with her. She did not seek the limelight and was not very comfortable when people recognised her. But what a talent, what a talent that girl is.
The changed the face of teen drama and it came before The OC, and One Tree Hill, and Friday Night Lights and all those other shows that were huge successes. Did you watch any of the shows came after as a result of the success you guys created with Dawson’s?
Now I’m going to be totally honest, I’ll be honest and say no. I never watched the OC. I think I did watch One Tree Hill, you know maybe a few times only because it was also shot down in Wilmington, so it was kind of nice to see the old locations and Chad Michael was on it and he was a cool kid and a friend. So I watched it but nothing really compared to Dawsons Creek. I think Dawson’s Creek put the WB on the map and it set a benchmark for all these other shows. I mean maybe I’m being biased but I’m being honest!
You know the other thing about Dawson’s Creek is it was before the internet, it was before we had cell phones but we didn’t have cameras in our cell phones. There was no text messaging. So we sat down and had family dinners and went to the beach and we had conversations and these kids would look longingly into each other’s eyes and speak what was on their minds and in their hearts. And now kids look down at their cell phones and they’re typing and they’re Snapchatting and that’s something that’s been lost.
Dawson’s was famed for the fact that the teen cast spoke so articulately and they didn’t talk like your average 17 year old.
That was Kevin Williamson’s idea. And it was brilliant. And we confronted big and important issues like dealing with the separation of your parents
And the first gay kiss?
I was there for that day on set I remember it! When I go to these autograph signings and conventions, I’ll sometimes have a couple of gay kids come up to me and want to hug me and hold me and say “Thank you, thank you so much for Dawson’s Creek. Because of Dawson’s Creek we were able to have a dialogue with our parents about our sexuality.” Whether you know if they were gay or straight it was a way for their parents to open up a dialogue. And again, kudos to Kevin, Greg Berlanti, the writers.
What do you think the next generation of Creek fans who are teens now who can learn and take away from it via All 4?
I would hope they would put their cell phones down and, you know, actually sit there for 40 something minutes and watch the show and discover an innocence that has been lost. I mean I guess we all love social media and we all use it, but when you walk into the restaurant no one is having conversations. You see kids walking down the street in the crosswalks and they’re all texting and it’s like, I wish people could just communicate. I hope they watch it and say, “Wow, this conversation between Joey and Dawson or Gail and Mitch or one of the other characters, it really moved my heart and makes me feel feels that texting doesn’t make me feel. I truly think we were lucky. We were lucky that we were away from Hollywood and we were before the internet.
November 24, 2017 11:03am by Channel 4