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James Van Der Beek says his daughter discovered his cry-face meme and uses it on him

The infamous Dawson Leery crying meme has found a new (and apropos) audience.

Dawson’s Creek alum James Van Der Beek, the face behind the viral meme, shared that his eldest daughter Olivia, 12, has discovered the viral meme — and even uses it on him when necessary.

“For some online learning, we got [the kids] iPads and they immediately discovered memes,” Van Der Beek told PEOPLE. “So it started, my eldest sent me a meme of myself.” When he sent her a meme of himself dancing, “she immediately hit me with the cry face,” he said. “I thought, ‘That’s aggressive.'”

Dawson’s Creek James Van Der Beek Screen grab

Columbia TriStar Television James Van Der Beek as Dawson Leery in ‘Dawson’s Creek’

The dad of six said that when it comes to explaining his fame to his children, he tries to be “really honest about all of my experience with it, about what it means and what it doesn’t.” Van Der Beek said, “It’s been an interesting thing to navigate but I think. . . they only kind of get it.”

As for that enduring meme, it turns out a few of Van Der Beek’s Dawson’s Creek costars weren’t even aware of its existence — until a few years ago, that is. Michelle Williams and Katie Holmes were in the dark about it until EW gathered the cast, which also included Joshua Jackson, Busy Philipps, Kerr Smith, Meredith Monroe, and Mary Beth Peil, for the show’s 20th anniversary in 2018.

“I feel like everybody on this show cried more than I did and I was the one who got caught in the loop!” Van Der Beek said of the meme. Jackson quipped, “It’s not how many times you cried. It’s how you cried.”

Still, Van Der Beek appreciates the meme just as much as the internet — and his daughter — does. “I love it. It’s my favorite thing about the whole show,” he joked at the time. “It’s hilarious to me that you can work for six years on a show. . . and it gets boiled down to three seconds. It’s a perfect way-of-the-internet.”

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