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James Van Der Beek Up the Parenting Creek

02/25/2011 at 04:00 PM ET
Jason Merritt/Getty

He’s always played the cerebral stud, but as far as fatherhood goes, James Van Der Beek has finally met his match in 5-month-old daughter Olivia.

“She’s brilliant,” the actor, 33, laughs to PEOPLE. “Easily smarter than the father, already! Way smarter than me!”

Even Van Der Beek’s wife Kimberly is quick to agree, adding, “She has us trained. She really knows how to get what she wants from us, that’s for sure. She’s tenacious.”

So where from the family tree does Olivia inherit such moxie from? Only Van Der Beek seems to hold the answer.

“The brilliance would have to be me,” the actor deadpans while at the Global Green Pre-Oscar Party in Hollywood. “Along with the humility as well.”

But it’s a humility that only goes so far, as Van Der Beek admits to trying to stretch his own onscreen medical persona well beyond the bounds of both parenting and reality, with less-than mixed results.

“It doesn’t work at home, not with her,” the former Mercy star jokes. “And even less so with the actual medical community. They don’t respect people that have played doctors on television. I don’t understand what’s wrong because I can throw down medical lingo like the best of them!”

– Reagan Alexander

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