Kerr Smith said being part of TV’s first gay kiss was “intense” but important.

As he makes his debut on Riverdale as new principal Mr Honey, the actor has reflected on his time on hit 90s teen drama Dawson’s Creek, which saw him play the groundbreaking role of openly gay teen Jack McPhee.

The character made headlines when he came out in a two-part episode in 1998, and later was part of the first man-on-man kiss on network TV in the United States – it’s safe to say that Jack helped a lot us come to terms with our identity.

“We were the first ones to do that. It was a crazy experience back then and you’re right, look at every single show now, it’s pretty amazing,” Kerr shared with Too Fab.

“There’s always a gay storyline, a lesbian storyline or whatever. I was talking to [Riverdale star] Casey [Cott] and he’s playing pretty much the same character I played on Dawson’s.”

Kerr said he felt a “huge” responsibility to do justice to the character, and also recalled a conversation he had with series creator Kevin Williamson about the storyline – where he initially thought he was getting fired.

“I remember the day Kevin Williamson came down to Wilmington, North Carolina … He said, ‘Kerr, let’s go get some coffee’, I went, ‘Oh no, am I fired?’ And he throws this idea, ‘We want to go down a different avenue with Jack,’ and I go, ‘What does that mean?’

“Obviously, he always had the intention of making one of his characters gay, he was still in the closet at that point too and every character in ‘Dawson’s Creek’ is an extension of Kevin Williamson,” said Kerr.

“My storyline ended up being largely Greg Berlanti’s. It was an intense experience and I remember calling everybody I respected and said, ‘Hey should I do this?’ Doing the first male-male kiss, I remember it was intense. I’m glad we did it and it was part of history.”

Related: The 30 most iconic queer characters in television history