On Monday, video and photos from the Hayes Theater were leaked online, showing the Grey’s Anatomy star fully naked in the play about a gay professional baseball player.
The images are not only an invasion of privacy, but they are also illegal. To protect its stars, including Williams, who was nominated for a Tony for the role Monday, and Patrick J. Adams, who also appears nude, Take Me Out requires its audience to place their phones in felt pouches with magnetic security tags.
“Everybody makes such a big deal,” Williams said on Watch What Happens Live last Monday when host Andy Cohen asked him about the nudity in the show. “It’s a body. Once you see it, you realize it’s whatever.”
The play centers on Darren Lemming, played by Williams, the Empires’ star center fielder who comes out as gay to his teammates and has to deal with not only homophobia but also racism and toxic masculinity in the locker room. It won a Tony for best play during its original Broadway run in 2003.
Jesse Williams talks about his nude scene
As mentioned previously, Williams talked about the nudity in the play during Monday’s episode of Watch What Happens Live. He also addressed the controversy in a recent article for PageSix, telling the publication that he was initially “terrified” of the role and the nude scene, but that he eventually got over it.
“Then I noted that that was what I asked God for. I asked to be terrified,” said the actor. “I asked to do something that was scary and challenging and made me earn it and made me feel alive and not comfortable.”
Other naked actors appear in the play. The audience is required to place their phones in a locked pouch before the show at Second Stage’s Hayes Theater “out of respect and support for our actors and to create a phone-free space.”
Williams also appeared in Late Night With Seth Myers and talked about the challenges the role represented for him.