Jesse Williams, who played Jackson Avery on the medical drama, Grey’s Anatomy, for over 10 years, allegedly left the show due to other job opportunities.
Jesse Williams portrayed Jackson Avery on Grey’s Anatomy since the sixth season. However, he has officially said farewell to ABC’s Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. Williams signed off during season 17’s episode, “Tradition,” which saw his alter ego depart for Boston, alongside Tom Koracick, played by Greg Germann. Both characters left as leaders of the Avery Foundation to combat the inequalities in medicine.
In an exclusive interview with Variety, Krista Vernoff, showrunner of Grey’s Anatomy, confirmed that Williams decided to retire as Jackson. Vernoff stated that Williams is an extraordinary artist and activist. She stated, “Watching his evolution these past 11 years both on screen and off has been a true gift. Jesse brings so much heart, such depth of care, and so much intelligence to his work. We will miss Jesse terribly and we will miss Jackson Avery – played to perfection for so many years.”
In the same interview, Williams also stated, “I will forever be grateful for the boundless opportunities provided me by Shonda, the network, studio, fellow cast mates, our incredible crew, Krista, Ellen and Debbie.” Adding, “As an actor, director and person, I have been obscenely lucky to learn so much from so many and I thank our beautiful fans, who breath so much energy and appreciation into our shared worlds. The experience and endurance born of creating nearly 300 hours of leading global television is a gift I will always carry. I am immensely proud of our work, our impact, and to be moving forward with so many tools, opportunities, allies and dear friends.”
Williams reportedly signed a two-year deal with ABC in 2019, meaning that season 17 would still have been his last season, even if he did not terminate his contract. However, his contract involved ‘scaled back duties’ for season 16 and season 17, due to Williams preparing for his Broadway debut in the revival of Take Me Out. The play was originally scheduled to start on 2 April 2020, but has since been rescheduled for early 2022.
Williams has also been cast in Amazon’s upcoming movie, Marked Man, which suggests that he may have left Grey’s Anatomy due to other job opportunities. Marked Man will be set in the 1920s, and will follow a young Black man who joins the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), only to later infiltrate Garvey’s organization, the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League. The official premiere date has yet to be announced.