Jesse Williams to leave ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ after 12 seasons

Williams' exit was teased last night, a show on which his character had serious talks with his father, Robert, and his ex, April.

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Actor Jesse Williams is slated to leave the hit ABC serial Grey’s Anatomy after 12 seasons on which he played Dr. Jackson Avery. 

Williams’ exit was teased in last night’s episode, where he was shown having heart-to-heart conversations with his father, Robert (played by Eric Roberts), and his ex, April (played by Sarah Drew), and he told them he plans to take over his family’s foundation to effect change and create “real racial equity in medicine.” 

Actor Jesse Williams is slated to leave the hit ABC serial “Grey’s Anatomy” after 12 seasons on which he played Dr. Jackson Avery. (ABC)

The decision would result in his character’s move to Boston from Seattle. “I’m not running from something, I’m trying to run to something. I’m trying to make something my own,” he says in the episode. 

Williams — who is an activist in real life — has been with the show since its sixth season in 2009. In a statement, he wrote, “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,” referring to Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes, showrunner Krista Vernoff and co-stars/producers Ellen Pompeo and Debbie Allen.

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“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,” Williams 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.”

In a statement to Deadline, Vernoff maintained, “Jesse Williams is an extraordinary artist and activist.”

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“Watching his evolution these past 11 years both on-screen and off has been a true gift,” she said. “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.”

His final episode will air on May 20.

Williams recently signed on to co-star in an Amazon movie called Marked Man. 

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