Jesse Williams is leaving medical drama Grey's Anatomy
Hollywood star Jesse Williams, who played surgeon Jackson Avery on Grey's Anatomy since the show's sixth season, will be leaving the ABC medical drama at the end of this season. Williams' final episode, titled Tradition, will air on May 20.
ABC confirmed Williams' departure to Variety Thursday night and provided statements from the actor and from Grey's Anatomy showrunner, Krista Vernoff. "Jesse Williams is an extraordinary artist and activist," Vernoff said.
She added, "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."
Over the years, the character of Jackson has evolved from being a privileged plastic surgeon to a caring doctor focusing on inequities in health care, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.
This season, Jackson has found closure with other Grey's Anatomy characters, including his mother, Catherine Avery (Debbie Allen) -- and in Thursday's episode, with his ex-wife April, played by Sarah Drew, who left the show in 2018.
In a statement, Williams said: "I will forever be grateful for the boundless opportunities provided me by Shonda, the network, studio, fellow castmates, our incredible crew, Krista, Ellen and Debbie. 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 breathe so much energy and appreciation into our shared worlds."
He continued, "The experience and endurance born of creating nearly 300 hours of leading global television is a gift I'll carry always. I am immensely proud of our work, our impact and to be moving forward with so many tools, opportunities, allies and dear friends."