Jesse Williams Reveals The ‘Odd’ Thing About Getting Recognized By Grey’s Anatomy Fans

jesse williams as jackson on grey's anatomy
(Image credit: ABC)

Jesse Williams hasn’t been a full-time member of Grey’s Anatomy’s cast for a couple of seasons now, after he exited the show in 2021, but it’s no surprise that playing Dr. Jackson Avery for 12 seasons has left an impression on fans of the medical drama. He continues to get recognized for the role when he’s out and about, but there seems to be a bit of  confusion sometimes, as the Your Place or Mine actor revealed an “odd” phenomenon he’s encountered in regards to his medical training (or lack thereof).

The actor joined the cast of Grey’s Anatomy in Season 6, and since leaving in Season 17 has returned as a guest star in a couple of episodes and even directed one. Jesse Williams appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert recently, where he revealed that not only does he get recognized as Jackson, those around him sometimes seem to forget that he’s not a real doctor — he just plays one on TV! The actor said: 

It’s odd, and I’ve said this before, but I’ve been on a plane two different times when they have said, ‘Is there a doctor on board? Somebody needs it,’ and they look at me. And I say, ’The one thing you know about me for sure is I’m not a doctor.′ Yet still, it’s happened on two different occasions.

Hearing someone shout, “Is there a doctor on the plane?” does sound like something that would definitely happen on Grey’s Anatomy, so maybe when faced with that situation in real life, people went with what they knew? What’s funny is that it didn’t just happen once, but twice.

Now, it should be noted that Grey’s Anatomy goes through a lot of trouble to make sure their depiction of the medical workers is as realistic as possible — even taking days to film those big surgery scenes — so maybe it’s a testament to their hard work paying off, as well as Jesse Williams’ acting skills. But still, 12 years of acting like a surgeon does not a surgeon make. You can check out his full Late Show interview below: 

Not only was Jesse Williams a fan favorite during his time on Grey’s (and, obviously, beyond), but he’s one half of the revered couple “Japril,” along with Sarah Drew’s April Kepner. Fans are still holding out hope that the duo will lead their own series one day (and with Ellen Pompeo’s impending exit, now would be the perfect time for a Boston spinoff). 

While Jesse Williams was featured in one episode of Season 19 so far, Sarah Drew has not been back since the Season 18 finale confirmed that Japril had rekindled their romance. It’s unknown if she’ll make an appearance on the back half of the current season, but Krista Vernoff has promised some “delightful surprises” to close out her final season as showrunner, so it’s definitely a possibility.

While we wait for Grey’s Anatomy to return Thursday, February 23, at 9 p.m. ET on ABC, you can catch Jesse Williams on the new romantic comedy Your Place or Mine, which is available for streaming with a Netflix subscription

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.