Why Jesse Williams Is a Theater Guy Now

·2 min read

Jesse Williams is coming to the end of his debut Broadway gig — but he’s already betting it’ll be the first of many stage engagements for him.

Listen to this week’s “Stagecraft” podcast below:

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“I’ve got the bug. I love it,” said Williams, the former “Grey’s Anatomy” star who’s currently nominated for a Tony Award for his performance in “Take Me Out.” Speaking on the new episode of “Stagecraft,” Variety’s theater podcast, he continued, “[Theater] is very demanding, so I’m not going to go right back into another production, I wouldn’t think. But it’s now woven into my DNA, so I will be back.”

Williams’ character in “Take Me Out” is a baseball player, and prior to “Take Me Out,” the actor, who was an athlete growing up, had a lot more experience playing baseball than working onstage.

“Baseball is similar to theater in the sense that it is both an individual sport and a team sport,” he said. “In both cases, it’s a collaborative effort and it doesn’t work without the team. However, there are moments of isolation where it’s entirely on you. And you have to be prepared. Natural talent alone won’t get you there.”

Going into “Take Me Out,” Williams said he’d had a good idea of the physical endurance required by a Broadway run, but he hadn’t anticipated the emotional fortitude that he’d need, too.

“I wish I had known that the emotional devastation that my character goes through was going to be more taxing than I anticipated,” he explained. “I wish that I had established for myself a meditation practice, a grounding practice, a way to get it off my head and heart and body after every show. There was a difficult period [earlier in the run] because the character goes through so much and your body doesn’t really know the difference. Definitely I had a bit of a dip where it was really weighing on me.”

Whatever his next stage job will be, Williams is excited for the new horizons theater represents for him. “I’ve been in one pocket for the entirety of my short career, and this is something very, very new,” he said. “This has been a real ‘pinch-me’ few weeks and months, and it’s a huge shift in my consciousness and in my connection between my work and what it can do in the world.”

To hear the full conversation, listen at the link above or download and subscribe to “Stagecraft” on podcast platforms including Apple PodcastsSpotify and the Broadway Podcast NetworkNew episodes of “Stagecraft” are released every other week.

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