Jesse Williams told Andy Cohen during an appearance on Watch What Happens Live that his naked body is ‘not that big of a deal.’
Williams, 40, became the victim of a nude photo leak after somebody broke the ‘no phone’ policy of his show Take Me Out. In one scene of the play, Williams appears fully naked.
As the pictures spread like wildfire throughout social media, Williams made an appearance on Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen on May 9.
Williams told Cohen during the After Show portion of the program: ‘It’s a body, once you see it, you realize it’s whatever, it’s a boy! I just have to make it not that big of a deal.’
The nude photos of Williams leaked on May 9 after an audience member broke the no-phone policy of the theater
Williams, who plays baseball player Darren Lemming of the fictional New York Empires, is the only actor who appears naked in the show
Williams, appearing on Watch What Happens Life with Andy Cohen, alongside co-star Jesse Tyler Ferguson, said that he tries not to worry about the audience’s reaction to his nudity
In Take Me Out, Williams portrays center fielder Darren Lemming who at the peak of his powers on the field for the fictional New York Empires, comes out as a homosexual.
A disclaimer on the official website for the play reads: ‘Please note: Take Me Out includes adult situations and nudity.’ Williams is the only actor who appears nude in on stage.
During the interview, Williams spoke about the various reactions he has received to being naked: ‘A non-reaction [from the audience] is a really interesting reaction. The quiet.’
When asked about which audience reaction he preferred, Williams said: ‘I don’t like any of it.’
Williams added that since the run began he has learned to not try to ‘read into’ the various different reactions his nude scene generates because it creates ‘more insecurity’ for him.
He later joked that he didn’t feel good about his penis looked on stage, which generated sympathetic groans from the audience.
A message on the Hayes Theatre’s website tells audience members that the show is a ‘phone-free space.’
The theater works with a company named Yondr that ‘uses a patented system to create phone-free spaces for artists.’
When asked if there was any reaction that he liked, Williams said: ‘I don’t like any of it.’
Audience members have their phones placed in pouches and locked. Patrons keep possession of their pouches and have them unlocked in the theater lobby after the show.
However following the leak of Williams’ photos, it’s clear that at least one person ignored the disclaimer.
Speaking to Cohen, Williams went on to say that he didn’t want to know if his friends were going to be on the audience.
Williams said: ‘I didn’t know Ellen [Pompeo] or Debbie [Allen] were coming and I’ve learned in my first few weeks in production that I don’t want to know. I thought I was confident, ‘Oh yeah sure, tell me,’ and I realized I don’t wanna know, absolutely not.’
Pompeo admitted during an April 2022 episode of her podcast, Tell Me with Ellen Pompeo, where her guest was comedian Ms. Pat, that she wasn’t looking forward to seeing her co-star naked on stage.
She said: ‘I don’t really know, Pat. But I’m honestly not really trying to find out either. I mean, I have to go support my friend.’
Williams’ spoke about the feeling of performing nude on stage during a 2021 appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
The star told guest host tWitch: ‘The character does call for a little bit of nudity, so what I will say about that is it’s terrifying in all the right ways. I’m looking to be challenged in new ways. To be scared and excited, to be pushed.’
Take Me Out runs at the Hayes Theater until June 11. Williams joked during his appearance with Andy Cohen that he did not want his friends to let him know when they are attending
Williams, who left the role of Dr. Jackson Avery on Grey’s Anatomy in May 2021, did appear shirtless on the show, which was the closest to nudity he’s gotten while performing.
The show’s executive producer Shonda Rhimes told Entertainment Weekly in July 2020, ‘We felt that having a shirtless Jackson Avery would be a benefit to society so we’re going to see a little bit of that early on in the season.’
Take Me Out runs on Broadway at the Hayes Theatre until June 11.