Jesse Williams quits ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ after 12 seasons – Deadline

SPOIL ALERT: The story includes information revealed during the May 6 episode of Grey’s Anatomy.

EXCLUSIVE: A beloved doctor leaves the Gray Sloan Memorial Hospital.

Grey’s Anatomy Star Jesse Williams is leaving the blockbuster ABC medical drama after 12 seasons. The pending release of his character Jackson Avery from the series is revealed in tonight’s episode, “Look Up Child.” Williams’ final episode, titled “Tradition,” will air on May 20.

“Jesse Williams is an extraordinary artist and activist. Watching his evolution over the past 11 years on screen and off has been a real gift ”. Grey’s Anatomy Executive producer / showrunner Krista Vernoff said in a statement to Deadline. “Jesse brings so much heart, such depth of care and so much intelligence to his work. Jesse will be sorely missed and Jackson Avery will be missed – performed to perfection for so many years.

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In recent years, Williams has branched out beyond the theater. He directed episodes of ABC Grey’s Anatomy and Rebel and built a terrific resume as a producer. He most recently produced Two distant strangerss, which won the Oscar for Live Short Film last month.

Richard Cartwright / ABC

Vernoff and the Grey’s The writers had lengthy conversations about how to end Jackson’s story to make sure it was satisfactory to fans. Ultimately, the idea everyone supported is to bring Sarah Drew back as April Kepner for a proper sendoff, giving closure to one of the show’s most popular couples, “Japril.” .

Williams’ farewell begins with the Jackson-centric “Look Up Child,” in which he visits his father Robert (Eric Roberts) and has a heart to heart with his ex – and the love of his life – April ( Drew), the mother of her daughter Harriet who lives in Seattle with her husband Matthew (Justin Bruening).

The episode juxtaposes Jackson’s conversations with Robert and April, in which he tells them about his decision to take over the family foundation and exactly the change, bringing equity to health care, which it was not. able to do this by working within the system. This would involve moving to Boston and in April, along with Matthew and Harriet, uprooting their lives to follow him there so he can be there for his daughter.

“I’m not running away from something, I’m running towards something, I’m trying to do something on my own,” said Jackson, who also stopped by to see his mother, Dr. Catherine Fox (series EP Debbie Allen), to give her the news. “I have the opportunity to do everything.”

Robert and April are skeptical at first. (“You’re not that guy, I don’t think you ever will be,” April said) But in the end, they both support her decision. (“You are this guy, Jackson, ”April said.)

In the end, April threw a bombshell that she and Matthew had separated, giving fans hope Japril could be back.

Grey’s The expected return of the former Drew is reminiscent of the surprise appearance of George Clooney in Julianna Margulies’ final episode on another classic medical drama series, ER.

‘Unbreak My Heart’

Williams’ current two-year contract comes at the end of the current 17th season. Grey’s Anatomy has not been renewed for an 18th season but is expected to be, subject to making deals with the three remaining cast members: Ellen Pompeo, who is also a producer, Chandra Wilson and James Pickens Jr. Williams a was the fifth longest term. Grey’s Anatomy actor behind Pompeo, Wilson, Pickens Jr. and Kevin McKidd, who joined season 5.

Williams joined Grey’s Anatomy as a recurring in season 6 and was promoted to a series regular the following season. He quickly emerged as an escape star, with his Dr. Jackson Avery among Grey’s most popular characters. The role earned Williams a NAACP Image Award. You can see a gallery of Williams as Jackson throughout his 11-season tenure on the show below.

photo: Erik Ray Davidson

“I will always be grateful for the limitless opportunities I have with Shonda, the network, the studio, the cast mates, our amazing team, Krista, Ellen and Debbie,” Williams said in a statement to Deadline. “As an actor, director and person, I have had the obscene chance to learn so much and I thank our wonderful fans, who bring so much energy and appreciation to our common worlds. The experience and endurance that comes from creating nearly 300 hours of world-class television is a gift I will always carry. I am extremely proud of our work, of our impact and to move forward with so many tools, opportunities, allies and dear friends. “

Hinting at the character’s imminent departure, Jackson this season is increasingly frustrated with inequalities in the healthcare system as well as the disproportionate impact the pandemic has on communities of color. Working on the front line with inbound Covid patients, he at one point used his credit card to book hotel rooms for low-income Covid-positive patients who needed to be quarantined.

“I don’t want to play a role in a system that just broke,” he told his mother in Episode 12. Williams has also been without constant romantic interest this season, although he and Jo become friends. with benefits after sexual failure. meet.

Williams is the second Grey’s Anatomy Regular actor on the show to leave this season, joining Giacomo Gianniotti whose character Andrew DeLuca died in the March 11 episode.

The most recent two-year deal Williams signed for Grey’s Anatomy in 2019 he reduced his duties as he prepared to make his Broadway debut in Richard Greenberg’s rebirth Take me, which was originally scheduled to begin performances on April 2, 2020. Delayed by the pandemic, it will likely open in early 2022.

On the features side, Williams recently signed on to co-star in the Amazon movie. Marked man.

The actor and activist, who has served as a senior producer and correspondent on America divided, also executive products Random acts of violence and Kojo’s funeral and documentaries Stay awake: the Black Lives Matter movement, with arms outstretched and Guide to prison survivors.

Season 6
Ron Tom / ABC

Season 7
Adam Taylor / ABC / Everett

Season 8
Vivian Zink / ABC

Season 9
Ron Tom / ABC

Season 10

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Season 17

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