Longtime Solid Member Leaving ABC Medical Drama – .
SPOILER ALERT: The story contains information that will be revealed in today’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy.
EXCLUSIVE: A beloved doctor checks out from Gray Sloan Memorial Hospital.
Grey’s Anatomy star Jesse Williams leaves the successful ABC drama after 12 seasons. The impending departure of his character Jackson Avery from the series will be revealed at the end of today’s episode “Look Up Child”. Williams’ final episode, entitled “Tradition”, will air on May 20th.
“Jesse Williams is an extraordinary artist and activist. It has been a real gift to see its development both on and off screen over the past 11 years, ”said Krista Vernoff, Executive Producer / Showrunner, Grey’s Anatomy. “Jesse brings so much heart, so much care and so much intelligence to his work. We will miss Jesse terribly and we will miss Jackson Avery – played perfectly for so many years. “
Grey’s Anatomy First look at Sarah Drew on Social when she reveals the return date
In recent years, Williams has branched out beyond acting. He has directed episodes of ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and Rebel and produced an impressive résumé as a producer. Most recently, he produced Two Distant Strangers, which won an Oscar for Live Action Short Films last month.
Richard Cartwright / ABC
The writers of Vernoff and The Gray had long conversations about how to end Jackson’s story to make sure it would please fans. In the end, the idea everyone left behind was to bring Sarah Drew back as April Kepner for a decent goodbye, closing off one of the show’s all-time favorite couples, “Japril”.
Williams’ parting begins with “Look Up Child,” in which Jackson pays a visit to his father (Eric Roberts), “who will help him find the right path,” as described in the episode recap, and him with the love of his Reunited for life, April (Drew), the mother of his child who lived in Seattle with her husband Matthew (Justin Bruening).
Grey’s alumna Drew’s highly anticipated return recalls George Clooney’s surprise appearance in Julianna Margulies’ final installment in another classic medical drama series, ER.
Williams’ current two-year contract expires at the end of the current 17th season. Grey’s Anatomy was not renewed for an 18th season but is expected to be subject to the conclusion of contracts with all three remaining cast members: Ellen Pompeo, who is also a producer, Chandra Wilson, and James Pickens Jr. Williams was the fifth longest-running Grey’s Anatomy cast member behind Pompeo , Wilson, Pickens Jr., and Kevin McKidd, who joined in Season 5.
Williams, who emerged from ABC’s Diversity Casting Program, joined Grey’s Anatomy as a recurring season 6 and was promoted to a regular series the following season. He quickly turned into a breakout star, and his Dr. Jackson Avery was one of Grey’s favorite characters. The role earned Williams a NAACP Image Award. You can see a gallery of Williams as Jackson during his eleven year tenure on the following show.
Photo: Erik Ray Davidson
“I will forever be grateful for the limitless opportunities offered by Shonda, the network, the studio, other castmates, our incredible crew, Krista, Ellen and Debbie,” said Williams. “As an actor, director and person, I was incredibly lucky to learn so much from so many, and I thank our beautiful fans who have breathed so much energy and appreciation into our shared worlds. The experience and perseverance that has come from creating nearly 300 hours of world-leading television is a gift I will always carry with me. I am very proud of our work, our impact, and of moving forward with so many tools, opportunities, allies and dear friends. “
Before Williams left, Jackson met the most important people in his life. He recently had an emotional scene with his mother, Dr. Catherine Fox (EP series EP Debbie Allen).
And, possibly hinting at the character’s imminent departure, Jackson is increasingly frustrated this season with the inequalities in the healthcare system as well as the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on the color communities. He worked on the front lines with incoming Covid patients and once used his credit card to book hotel rooms for Covid-positive, low-income patients who needed to be quarantined.
“I don’t want to play a role in a system that’s just broken,” he told his mother in episode 12. Williams was also without ongoing romantic interest this season, although he and Jo become friends with benefits after a failed sex encounter.
Williams is the second regular actor on the Grey’s Anatomy series to leave this season, joining Giacomo Gianniotti, whose character Andrew DeLuca died on the March 11th episode.
The final two-year deal Williams signed for Grey’s Anatomy in 2019 included reduced duties for him as he prepared to make his Broadway debut in the revival of Richard Greenberg’s Take Me Out, which was originally scheduled to begin on Jan. April 2020 was delayed by the pandemic, it is expected to open in early 2022.
On the feature side, Williams recently signed up to star in the Amazon movie Marked Man.
The actor and activist, who served as senior producer and correspondent for America Divided, has also produced lengthy feature films, Random Acts of Violence and The Burial of Kojo, and documentaries Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement with Arms Drawn and Survivors in Prison.
Ron Tom / ABC
Adam Taylor / ABC / Everett
Vivian Zink / ABC
Ron Tom / ABC