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Drew says she jumped at the chance to return to "Grey's" when she learned Williams was departing.
She also opened up about how the two improvised that Japril hug, and why there was no kiss.
Drew also teased a possible "Grey's Anatomy" spin-off about Jackson and April.
This week, "Grey's Anatomy" fans were devastated to learn that Jesse Williams would be departing the series after the May 20 episode, but one thing helped soften the blow: the long-awaited reunion of Williams' character Jackson Avery with his ex-wife, April Kepner.
Sarah Drew returned to "Grey's Anatomy" as April on Thursday's episode "Look Up Child" to help Jackson achieve his dream of running his family's foundation - the Fox Foundation. The decision to move to Boston to do this is the official catalyst for Jackson's exit. After the episode's conclusion, it was announced that Williams would exit the show ahead of its season 17 finale, ending a 12-year run.
In her role as April, Drew played an integral part in Jackson's storylines before she exited the show in 2018, and said at a press conference call attended by Insider that she jumped at the chance to return when she heard Williams was leaving.
"I was just really excited to get to be a part of his departure," she said. "That relationship - both just between the two of us as humans, but also the Japril relationship - [is] so meaningful to both of us. It felt like the perfect time to come back and do a special episode to be able to help Jackson make his big departure."
There's no question for Drew that Japril is endgame
The last time we saw April, she was getting married to paramedic Matthew Taylor (Justin Bruening), whom she had previously left at the altar, but we learn at the end of Thursday's episode that the couple is getting a divorce.
So, the burning question on everyone's mind was - are Jackson and April endgame? Drew gave reporters a very direct answer: "I am deciding that they are."
But the writers opted to keep it more open-ended, with the conclusion of the episode leaving more questions than answers so that the audience can decide for themselves. "I have never been shy about wanting Japril to be endgame, it's what I've wanted the whole time," Drew said of her personal take on the couple's future. "One of the biggest heartbreaks for me about leaving in season 14 was that they didn't get to be endgame."
Drew and Williams have such great chemistry on-screen that an implied endgame without a kiss might feel like a letdown to fans, but Drew said she and Williams had to fight for every touch we see between them on-screen in the episode because of COVID-19 filming precautions - even hand touches.
The actors were so dedicated to the characters and doing the relationship justice that they improvised the hug on the day of shooting.
"I pitched the hug, I was like, 'we gotta give [fans] a Japril hug, just, we have to,'" Drew revealed. Producers pushed back on including both embraces, according to Drew, "and then we just did both and it was great," the actress said, laughing.
As for fans who wanted to see a kiss between the pair, Drew thinks that "would've been too much."
"I love how [the episode] leaves the audience hoping and wanting more and drawing their own conclusions," she explained.
Drew even teased a possible 'Grey's Anatomy' spin-off idea for Japril
The former couple's move to Boston to help bring equity to the US medical system leaves a lot of room for a potential spin-off, and Drew is all for it.
"How cool would that show be?" she said, going as far as to lay out a possible premise for a Japril-centered show about "racial justice in the medical field."
Drew continued: "I just kept thinking like, 'how cool would this couple be?' [Jackson] working from the position of having money and power to be actually able to make that change. And then she's working with folks experiencing homelessness and she's also [trying to make change] in her own way. These two could change the world of medicine, right?"
We'd certainly watch that show, but Drew made clear she was just dreaming out loud.
Returning to 'Grey's Anatomy,' and reflecting on what April means to the fans, has been an emotional experience for Drew
Drew's joy was evident throughout the conversation with press, mirroring her feelings on-set while filming the episode and giving April the ending she deserved.
"It was such a beautiful experience," she said of her return. "I feel like there was this lovely kind of full-circle conclusion that felt so good in my heart and in my body. Combined with going back on set and feeling so loved and so missed...it was such a sweet homecoming in so many ways."
"To get to do an episode like this to really kind of close out both of these characters, it just felt like how it was always meant to be," she added.
Drew also said that April has had plenty of off-screen development, noting that the April we see in 2021 is different from the character who left our screens in 2018: "You haven't seen it on screen, but I think she's less insecure. She's more sure of herself. Even though you find out at the end that her marriage did fall apart, she is grounded in her purpose."
As for working with Williams again she said, "Jesse and I love working together. We have a beautiful friendship and a really special partnership on screen." She called their reunion in front of the camera "beautiful and fun and easy" and she decided to come back because of what the episode meant to him.
"I wouldn't have wanted to come back to kind of just solve a case or something. I wanted it to be really special if I came back," she said. "And knowing that the subject matter was so deep and dear to him and so important, I was so happy."
Because of the pandemic, Drew has been spending a lot of time on social media with fans in between filming episodes of her new Freeform series "Cruel Summer." She said her conversations within the fandom have made her realize that April is an "evergreen" character who new, young people are discovering everyday.
Drew was nearly brought to tears while contemplating what the love from "Grey's Anatomy" fans means to her.
"The privilege that I feel in playing this character is that she really has helped a lot of people," Drew said. "Because she went through so much trauma - she lost a child, lost her marriage, lost her faith - and then comes back with beauty and hope, that she kind of becomes this beacon of hope to a lot of people who are struggling. They're like, 'Well, if April can get through that I can get through that. I can do it. I'm a soldier. I'm brave, it's possible.'"
Drew called portraying a character who can help people feel less alone in dark times, "the greatest gift I could ever imagine."
Read the original article on Insider