Jesse Williams Shares How He’s Feeling After Footage Of His Nude Broadway Scene Leaked

Jesse Williams as Jackson Avery on Grey's Anatomy.
(Image credit: ABC)

Leaked photos of Jesse Williams naked on stage in his Broadway production of Take Me Out have caused quite a stir. Whether from social media users admiring the Grey’s Anatomy star’s, er, anatomy, The View co-hosts needing to be cooled off, or fellow actors denouncing the leak, lots of people have opinions, but only now are we hearing how Williams himself feels about the nude photos being circulated.

Williams' post-Grey's role is Darren Lemming, a Major League Baseball player who comes out as gay, in the revival of the Richard Greenberg play. Take Me Out opened to rave reviews, which led to the production’s run being extended and earned Tony Award nominations for three of its actors (including Williams) and an overall nod for Best Revival of a Play. While Williams told the AP he wasn’t letting the leaked photos get to him too much, he did address the fact that they were released without his permission:

I’m not down about it. Our job is to go out there every night, no matter what. I’m not really worrying about it. I can’t sweat that. We do need to keep advocating for ourselves. And it’s wonderful to see a community push back and make clear what we do stand for, what we don’t. Consent is important, I thought. So, let’s keep that in mind universally.

The star may not be letting the leaked photos affect his ability to do his job, but he joins many fans and fellow thespians in speaking up about showing respect to the actors. In the aftermath of the photos being shared on social media, the Second Stage Theater, where Take Me Out is playing, released a statement blasting the patron who violated the “no phones” policy, and stated security was being increased. 

Audience members were already required to lock their phones in Yondr cases during performances, and Deadline reported that the theater will now install an infrared system to monitor smartphone use.

The actor appeared on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen on May 9, where he downplayed his nudity, saying, “It's a body. Once you see it, you realize it's whatever." However, that episode was recorded before the photos came out, and Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who co-stars in Take Me Out alongside Jesse Williams, denounced the leak, saying the theater needs to be a safe space for the people on stage:

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Prior to the past week’s events, the Jacob's Ladder alum had spoken about what it’s like to bare it all in that way in front of so many people, and he joked that the reaction he got from the audience was not what he was expecting. Even his Grey’s Anatomy co-stars have talked about it, as Ellen Pompeo said she wanted to support her friend but didn’t want to see him naked.

Jesse Williams is set to make his return to Grey’s Anatomy for the Season 18 finale after leaving the show in 2021 after 12 seasons. He and Sarah Drew will reprise their fan favorite characters Jackson Avery and April Kepner, and the most recent episode might have revealed the reason for their return to Seattle. The two-hour finale will air at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 26, on ABC. Check out our 2022 TV Schedule to see what shows are premiering soon. Take Me Out, meanwhile, is scheduled to run through June 11.

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.