'Grey's Anatomy': Jesse Williams Previews Jackson's 'Double Whammy' and the 'Jarring' Season Finale
The actor tells THR that April's confession and his mother's relationship with the Chief will be a juggling act that comes at the worst possible time for his character.
Seattle Grace's best and brightest each dealt with the pressure of the medical boards in their own way on last week's Grey's Anatomy. For Jackson, meanwhile, the stress was twofold as his doctor mother was lurking about the hotel as a proctor and -- in a shocker to Jackson -- a special friend for the Chief.
But that wasn't the only surprise Jackson (Jesse Williams) had ahead of the oral exams. A liberated April (Sarah Drew) made a move and lost her virginity to her best friend, awkwardly revealing the following morning -- talk about bad timing! -- that she had regrets about their night together because … she believes in Jesus.
The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Williams to get the dirt on the boards, the April fallout, how Jackson will handle news of his mother's (Debbie Allen) fling with the Chief (James Pickens Jr.) and the deadly finale.
The Hollywood Reporter: How will Jackson struggle with April's religious declaration? How will their friendship and work relationship be impacted?
Jesse Williams: He's going to struggle in a couple different ways; it's a surprise to him. He's wondering, "Why the hell didn't I know this, we're best friends; how have you not told me about this." It's inherently a little bit selfish but also disappointing. You think you know somebody well then you find out years later a secret about them and feel like you misjudged a closeness. The beauty of April and Jackson is that this started about them knowing each other well, caring about each other and being protective of each other. We've seen Jackson be protective of her in the past and he's protective of her her this time around, too. It's not going to be easy; it's not comfortable, it's kind of awkward. But he cares about her and wants to do what he can to be loving toward someone who he cares about. Wehther that means a romantic relationship is something entirely different.
How will their night together impact their ability to work together?
It's distracting as all hell. He's already a protective guy and she's somebody who gets picked on a lot, so how is he going to handle her being picked on, being vulnerable, emotional and spontaneous? How is he going to handle where she's going to go? We're all interviewing around the country and is Jackson supposed to involve April in his conversations about which hospital to go to? Is she supposed to involve him with where she goes? Are we a couple or are we just friends who wish the best for each other? It just got really cloudy at the worst possible time for them.
Which is the bigger problem for Jackson: the shock of April's confession or seeing his mother with his boss?
It's a double whammy for him. And it's all happening on the most high-pressure weekend of his life. It's hard to get over. He's going to be more scarred by the image of his mom opening the door in the chief's shirt and the idea of them making love. That's just horrible. But he's going to have to deal with juggling act every single day with April, there's no escaping the fact that they're going to be around each other. It's a double whammy but it's going to be all day, every day dealing with the April issue. But his mom? I don't know how he's going to bounce back from this. How is he going to talk to Richard again? How do you lash out at your boss? We've all been pissed at a boss but how do you take action? His mom really crossed the line; it's not cute anymore with his mom being a meddling parent. He's pissed.
Could Jackson turn to Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) considering her mother's relationship with the Chief?
I'd be surprised if he didn't turn to Meredith. You look to people who can relate, and a lot of times that's been April because they came here together and they experienced a lot of things together. But in this situation with a meddling parent, Richard slept with Meredith's mom and now he slept with Jackson's mom. I'd be amazed if Jackson didn't turn to Meredith just for somebody to talk to because she's the one other person on the planet who can relate to this.
We've seen that someone fails the boards -- how is Jackson feeling about his exams?
He felt one way going in to it and felt another way after all hell broke loose. All these things are distracting you: the stress of the exam, the anticipation of the exam and the consequences if you fail. And the proctor, it's two adults giving you crap and trying to push your buttons and pick at and expose your weaknesses. It's going to be difficult and there's a whole other distraction that comes in on top of that with his mom being one of the proctors in the hotel. The exams are not going to go well. They're not going to be fun. Jackson is going to be strong and try to figure it out but there's nothing easy about them.
What can you tease about the deadly finale? How will it impact Jackson?
It's going to be a show-stopper, it's going to be really jarring for everybody. It's going to impact all of us differently; nobody mildly. I can't say anything about Jackson's whereabouts, but it matters and it's something that was very difficult for us as actors and as the characters we play.
Could we see you return next year?
I have no idea. If you find out, please let me know (laughs).
What do you think about April and Jackson together? Do you think Meredith and Jackson bond over their awkward similarities? Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on ABC. Check out a promo for Thursday's episode, below.