Q&A Interview with Grey’s Anatomy actor Jesse Williams (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)
September 29, 2011 by Dennis Amith
With the DVD release of “Grey’s Anatomy – The Complete Seventh Season”, J!-ENT’s latest “Grey’s Anatomy” Q&A is with one of the newer cast members, Jesse Williams who plays the character of Dr. Jackson Avery.
Prior to his role on “Grey’s Anatomy”, Avery appeared on the TV series “Beyond the Break”, “Greek” and also in the feature films “Brooklyn’s Finest” and “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2”.
With the eighth season of “Grey’s Anatomy” having premiered on Sept. 22nd, to promote the release of “Grey’s Anatomy – The Complete Seventh Season”DVD box set, here is a media Q&A featuring Jesse reflecting on season seven of “Grey’s Anatomy”.
How much has your life changed since you joined the cast of Grey’s Anatomy?
JESSE: My life has changed completely since I joined the cast in 2009. Grey’s Anatomy is a huge show and I’ve never been exposed to an audience of this size before, but I love an adventure and that’s exactly what this experience feels like. Everything has changed in my life. I moved to Los Angeles from Brooklyn, New York, for the show, so my friends and surroundings have changed. Even the amount of tacos I get to eat every day has increased! I’m always happy to pick up and move around to experience whatever life throws at me, so it’s been a fun experience and everything has changed for the better.
What happens to your character, Jackson Avery, in Season Seven?
JESSE: Since the shooting in the finale of Season Six, everything has changed for Jackson. He came into the hospital as one of the new guys. He worked hard to prove himself in a very competitive industry – but then he lost the closest things to him, his best friend and his roommate, Reed Adamson and Charles Percy. He’s having a tough time dealing with the aftermath of the trauma of the shooting, but he’s moved into Meredith’s house where he’s trying to get to know the others that live there.
Does he enjoy the move?
JESSE: He’s welcomed into the home where they are all dealing with the aftermath together. He’s trying to develop solid relationships and a stable life, and it’s great for him to become part of the family. He develops a real rapport with Sarah Drew’s character, April, who also moves into Meredith’s house, as well as the others living there. It’s great for him to be with people who went through the same traumatic experience as him.
How does Jackson deal with the grief of losing his close friends in the shooting?
JESSE: Jackson tries to bottle up his feelings to protect himself. He hides his emotions, but he has a lot of issues dealing with the death of his best friend. He hides everything. He passes all the tests with the trauma therapist at the hospital and he gets cleared for surgery again, but his emotions start to spill out as soon as he’s back in there. His grief starts to creep up and creep out during operations and it gets in the way of work. He’s got a tough year ahead of him.
Is romance on the cards for Jackson in Season Seven?
JESSE: I don’t want to give away too many storylines for Season Seven, but I’ll let you into a little secret… Down the road, he’ll be trying to find ways to get involved romantically with somebody. I can’t say who that will be, but it’s going to be a fun and interesting storyline.
Jackson has been known to flaunt his body on Grey’s Anatomy?
JESSE: [Laughs] You know what? The cast laughs every time we get a new script and discover that the writers have found a new way to have me take off my shirt. It’s pretty hilarious and I don’t take it seriously at all. We crack jokes about it and the others give me hell about it, so it makes for a good time. Sure, Jackson takes off his top a number of times in Season Seven.
How comfortable do you feel in front of the cameras?
JESSE: Stripping off is terribly uncomfortable at times, but it’s my job. And if the audience pays attention and I’m entertaining them, then I have to learn to have fun with it. When I signed up for this role on Grey’s Anatomy I knew what the job entailed and I was fine with that. I did a movie called The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants 2 before I joined the show. That was my first big job, and the role also involved me showing off my body. I guess that helped me be a little more prepared for Grey’s Anatomy.
Is Jackson over his crush on Cristina Yang in Season Seven?
JESSE: Again, I don’t want to spoil anything – but I can reveal that he admires and respects Cristina, and he sees her as a challenge. She is somebody to be in the race with, and she is somebody to measure yourself against. I think she has been a real inspiration to him and he is always rooting for her, especially when she starts to struggle with her work after the shooting.
What makes Season Seven different to previous seasons of the show?
JESSE: Season Seven feels very fresh. We hit rock bottom emotionally at the end of Season Six, so everything got recalibrated. Everything was shaken upside down and flipped on its head, and now we all have a chance to start over in some way. We all get to develop new relationships or repair previous ones. Everybody gets a fresh start, which is great.
Would you like to see less drama on the show and more comedy?
JESSE: No, not necessarily. I think the show has a nice little injection of comedy every now and then. There is a lightness and humor to the show, as well as terrific music, drama and tension. I think the balance is great.
Do you enjoy learning about the weird and wonderful ailments your character treats on the show?
JESSE: I love reading the script every week to discover all of the amazing ideas, concepts and diseases that we end up treating on the show. Everything on the show is real, so the stories are based on meticulously researched reality. It’s like reading up on a greatest hits compilation of the craziest illnesses that have happened around the world.
How much medical research do you do every week to prepare for the show?
JESSE: I usually go online to read up about everything we cover on the show. I like to check out what really happened and I get tutorials on all of the bizarre ailments, but it can be terrifying at times.
Is it hard to get the choreography of surgery correct in front of the cameras?
JESSE: It’s tough to look like you are comfortable performing surgery, but you have to look like you do them all the time. It builds a foundation and it sets the tone, but it took me a while to get it right.
Do you think the viewers relate to a lot of the issues covered in the show?
JESSE: One of the things I was most impressed with was how often we get to see the difficult decisions that patients and doctors have to make. We cover real issues like healthcare in this country and what it means to be taken off of insurance, as well as issues like euthanasia. All of these political issues are brought into play and they are made into very real issues. I think the show acts as an education to many viewers. It gives them information that they might not have read about, which is a good thing. It’s good to get people thinking.
Grey’s Anatomy the Complete Seventh Season is now available on DVD.
Photo credit: ABC/BOB D’AMICO
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