Audiences first fell in love with Katie Holmes as girl-next-door Joey Potter on Dawson's Creek, a role she relished for six seasons. But when Holmes was approached about possibly reuniting with her former costars James Van Der Beek, 35, and Joshua Jackson, 34, the actress' husband, Tom Cruise, 49, nixed the idea.
"[Producers] were begging her to sign on for a reunion movie," a source tells the new issue of Us Weekly (out now). "Tom said absolutely no way and thought going backward would be bad."
Holmes, on the other hand, "didn't care how 'low-brow' he thinks Dawson's Creek is," the source adds. "She wanted to do the movie and reconnect with her fans. And have fun -- something she rarely does anymore."
(In a November 2011 appearance on Good Morning America, Holmes said a reunion movie "would be fun. I had so much fun working on that show and I loved everyone so much and I think about it with such fond memories.")
Prior to filing for divorce in New York City June 28 -- and boldly requesting sole custody of their daughter, Suri, 6 -- Holmes' career had been in the hands of her husband. According to an insider, Cruise refused to let Holmes sign on for films with "sexually compromising scenes, largely because the Scientology folks objected."
Now that she's free, things are already looking up for Holmes, 33: She just wrapped a modern version of Chekov's The Seagull and is at work on Molly, which she cowrote and produced. Says a source: "Katie wants her life back."
For more on what caused Holmes to file for divorce -- from her "vicious" fights with Cruise over how to raise Suri to her husband's strong Scientology ties -- pick up the new issue of Us Weekly, out now!