'It's whatever': Jesse Williams hangs loose as he brushes off super-viral nude leak
Jesse Williams has said his naked body is "not that big of a deal" during an appearance on 'Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen'.
The 40-year-old became an internet sensation following a nude photo leak after an audience member broke the "no phone" policy of his show 'Take Me Out'. Photos from one scene in the play, which shows Williams fully naked, went viral on social media and sent his fans gushing. The actor addressed the media blow-up during an appearance on Bravo's 'Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen' on Monday, May 9.
"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," Williams told Cohen during the 'After Show' segment of the program. The leak prompted Second Stage Theater, the company running the production, to issue a statement. "It is deeply unfortunate that one audience member chose to disrespect the production, their fellow audience members, and most importantly, the case in this matter," it read.
"Posting it on the internet is a gross and unacceptable violation of trust between the actor and audience forged in the theater community," the Second Stage also revealed in the statement that it will be adding additional staff to enforce its policies.
Williams plays center fielder Darren Lemming in 'Take Me Out', a character who comes out as a homosexual while playing for the fictional New York Empires. "Please note: Take Me Out includes adult situations and nudity," a disclaimer on the play's official website reads. That said, Williams is the only actor who appears fully nude on stage.
Williams also told Cohen about the various reactions he has received to being naked. "A non-reaction [from the audience] is a really interesting reaction. The quiet." And when asked which reaction he preferred, the star said, "I don't like any of it." Williams said he had learned not to try to "read into" the audience's reactions to his nude scene as it creates "more insecurity" for him. However, he joked that he didn't feel good about how his manhood looked on stage, sparking groans from the audience.
According to a message on the Hayes Theater website, the show is a "phone-free space" and the venue uses a "patented system to create phone-free spaces for artists." Those attending are required to place their phones in pouches, which are locked in the theater lobby until after the show. Following the leak of Williams' photos, the theater said, "We are appalled that this policy has been violated and unauthorized footage of our acting company has been posted."
Williams also told Cohen that he didn't want to know if his friends were going to be in the audience. "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," he said.
The 'Grey's Anatomy' star has previously spoken about performing nude on stage during a 2021 appearance on 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show'. "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," Williams had said at the time.