September 27th, 2012
12:45 PM ET
Changes are afoot as "Grey's Anatomy" returns to ABC tonight at 9 p.m. - the series, shepherded by Shonda Rhimes, is down a few doctors.
And the exits could mean more screen time for Jesse Williams' Jackson Avery.
Without Dane's Sloan, though, "we certainly have big shoes to fill," actor Williams told CNN. But perhaps, Williams mused, we'll get to see Avery gain some maturity going forward.
"Hopefully we'll see [Justin Chambers' Alex] Karev and Avery go from boys to men, handle more adult material, situations, emotions," the 31-year-old actor said. "We're no longer students, we're no longer residents, now we're attendings. We're teachers instead of students. Hopefully we'll see that transition; I look forward to that."
For the moment, Williams is perhaps best known as the "Grey's Anatomy" doctor giving fans of heart palpitations with his hotness (yes, non-viewers, "Grey's' " Seattle Grace has employed a McSteamy, a McDreamy, and a Jesse Williams), but he's certainly open to it all.
He's in an upcoming Western alongside "Boardwalk Empire's" Michael K. Williams, a sports-themed project he produced called "Snake and Mongoose," and Lee Daniels' upcoming historical epic, "The Butler" - not to mention that Williams has also done a horror-hybrid with fan favorite filmmaker Joss Whedon.
Williams portrays Holden in Whedon's mysterious "The Cabin in the Woods," a layered thriller co-written by Whedon and director Drew Goddard that aims to upend horror fans' expectations. In a clip from the DVD/Blu-ray release, available now, the filmmakers explain how important it was for them to keep their effects man-made as often as possible:
Although Williams wasn't that familiar with Whedon's work when he auditioned - "I'd heard of all of it, the huge cult following, but I didn't really watch TV at that stage; I hadn't really seen much of anything," Williams explained - they had an instant eye-to-eye.
At the time, "I had just done theater in New York, and a couple small parts in two movies, and that was it," Williams said. "This was absolutely the first time that I had a principal role in a film, never mind a studio film, never mind on location. It was all very different, it was a huge learning experience. I went there as a student, and I went there to absorb as much of the process as I possibly could. It was a huge turning point in my career for sure."
Whedon and Goddard's project was kept infamously close to the vest - "rarely are things as secretive as they were on this project," Williams said - but when the actor did finally get to see the script (after two auditions, no less), he was even more interested in the gig.
"It was such a page-turner, because you were constantly trying to figure out, 'What is this?', because it doesn't fit any of the boxes," Williams said of "Cabin's" story. "It's surprisingly hilarious, but really scary, and bloody and gory and salacious, but with a wink and a nod."
Since working on "Cabin," "I've grown to really enjoy a lot of Joss' work, especially the 'Sing-Along Blog,'" Williams said. "He's just incredibly smart and funny, with a real combination of a lot of different talents."
Williams has other tricks up his sleeve as well, considering that prior to becoming an actor, he was a teacher, a profession he wants to find his way back to one day.
"I miss it all the time. It's the best job I've ever had," Williams said of teaching. "The need is so strong - I came from a pretty difficult school system as a young kid, and I know that such a large swath of our population is incredibly disenfranchised by the education that they're receiving. I thought I was a pretty damn good teacher, and I really enjoyed it and I really loved my kids. It was very difficult for me to leave. I miss the kids, I miss the opportunity to try to change lives. I learned from them. I miss it entirely."
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