Not only did James Van Der Beek transform into the Grammy award-winning DJ & record producer, Diplo for his new Viceland series, which debuted on August 3, he also stepped behind the camera as writer and showrunner. Luckily, for him, the role was one of the most fun challenges of his life.
“The best part about being showrunner was being able to create the kind of environment I like to work in as an actor — collaborative, open, and fast-paced, and where the best idea wins, even if it’s not what I wrote,” James Van Der Beek, 40, told HollywoodLife.com in an EXCLUSIVE interview about working on his new series, What Would Diplo Do? After being an actor for years, he quickly realized that now, he also was in charge of making every character his “baby.” Crediting Brandon Dermer in the writers’ room, he revealed that every move he made as an actor throughout his 24-year career, has now become “valuable” in his new role. “All those annoying questions I asked every producer along the way came in very handy.”
As for the role itself, James says it wasn’t a struggle to become this version of Diplo, 38 in real life, because it was such a fun character. “With Diplo, the real guy has a very unique speech pattern, so that was fun to play with. Plus, there’s an innate trust in his instincts musically, balanced by an almost child-like sweetness and wonder that comes through in moments,” he said. Of course, the show is a re-imagined version of Diplo, so the network and James added in a few tweaks.
He did learn a great deal about Diplo, who has collaborated with Justin Bieber, Chris Brown, Gwen Stefani and more, but the thing that stuck out the most was his ambition. “The real guy is extremely sharp and hard-working, and never rests on his accomplishments. He’s got platinum records and awards just kind of carelessly piled up in the corner of one of his studios,” he explained. “He’s always on the look out for that exciting new thing just around the corner.”
Well right now, the exciting new thing is, What Would Diplo Do? New episodes air on Thursdays at 10PM ET on Viceland.