Grey’s Anatomy’s Ellen Pompeo Reveals Her Awkward Reservation About Supporting Former Co-Star Jesse Williams On Broadway

Lots of actors have come and gone over Grey’s Anatomy’s 18 seasons so far, but obviously a lot of the relationships formed during their time on the show remain. It’s always nice to see former co-stars supporting each other in their subsequent projects, and Ellen Pompeo seemed really excited to do just that as Jesse Williams — who played Jackson Avery for 12 seasons on ABC’s hit medical show — prepared to make his Broadway debut. There was just one thing holding her back, and it sounds pretty awkward!

Jesse Williams made his Broadway debut in Take Me Out on April 4, and after rave reviews, the production was extended to run through June 11. In the Richard Greenberg play, Williams plays Darren Lemming, a professional baseball player who comes out as gay. During the episode of her podcast Tell Me that aired April 13, Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo told comedian Ms. Pat that she and fellow Grey’s executive producer Debbie Allen were looking forward to supporting their former co-star. There was just one detail that gave Pompeo pause: 

He’s getting ready to do a show on Broadway called Take Me Out. He has to be naked on stage in that play, and Debbie and I was just talking about it, going to New York to see him when it opens, and I said, ‘I can’t see Jesse naked on stage.’ … I have to go support my friend. And you know Debbie, that’s like her son, right? On our show, he does play her son. And I was like, ‘What are we gonna do? How are we gonna go see this show?’ Because you want good seats, but you want to be up close, but if he’s gonna be naked on stage, we don’t want to be up close. So, you know, we have a real situation to figure out.

That is a pretty hilarious predicament the actresses found themselves in. Obviously they want to support the actor in his new role — especially to be on Broadway for the first time — but just how close do they want to be when the curtain rises and the pants drop? Ellen Pompeo may have seen Jesse Williams like a brother on Grey’s Anatomy, but he literally played Debbie Allen’s son. I wonder if that’s also stress-inducing to Williams, to know he’s baring it all with some really close friends in the audience?

One way or another, they must have made a decision — or at least Debbie Allen did, as the dance icon lauded Jesse Williams’ performance on Twitter following the premiere:

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It should be noted that Jesse Williams was fully clothed when he took the picture with his Grey’s Anatomy mom. They looked absolutely elated to see each other again, and that kind of praise from a living legend shouldn’t be taken lightly.

It’s good to see that the actor has found success in his post-Grey’s Anatomy career. He took a pretty significant pay cut to try his hand at new projects, so this accomplishment hopefully makes that leap one worth taking. Given his ongoing relationship with executive producers Ellen Pompeo and Debbie Allen, I think the door would still be open if he ever did want to reprise the role of Jackson Avery — maybe for a spinoff with Sarah Drew's April Kepner? For now, though, he’s got other projects in the works

Grey’s Anatomy, meanwhile, is close to wrapping up its 18th season. The medical drama is set for a two-hour season finale to close out ABC’s 2021-2022 season May 26. Until then, Meredith’s got a big announcement to make when the drama returns from hiatus at 9 p.m. ET Thursday, May 5, on ABC. Be sure to check out all of the upcoming season finales, as well as our 2022 TV Schedule to see what premieres are headed our way!

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Heidi Venable is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend, a mom of two and a hard-core '90s kid. She started freelancing for CinemaBlend in 2020 and officially came on board in 2021. Her job entails writing news stories and TV reactions from some of her favorite prime-time shows like Grey's Anatomy and The Bachelor. She graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a degree in Journalism and worked in the newspaper industry for almost two decades in multiple roles including Sports Editor, Page Designer and Online Editor. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.