Everybody’s talking about Jesse this week.
Best known for his work on Grey’s Anatomy and The Cabin in the Woods, actor Jesse Williams is currently playing lead character Darren Lemming in the ongoing Broadway play Take Me Out.
This week, a leaked video of Williams surfaced on social media featuring the actor completely nude in a scene from the Tony-winning stage play, written by Richard Greenberg. In the scene, Darren is seen roughhousing Shane Mungitt (played by Michael Oberholtzer) while they’re both naked in the locker room showers.
Gay Twitter was set ablaze following this leaked video, but many don’t really understand what’s going on in this particular scene, nor what the conflict between Darren and Shane in the play is.
Take Me Out is centered around Darren, a biracial baseball player for the fictional Empires team who comes out as gay. Darren’s best friend, Davey Battle (played by Brandon J. Dirden), is a baseball player for an opposing team who encourages Darren to be his true self. Meanwhile, Darren’s teammate Kippy Sunderstrom (played by Patrick J. Adams) tries to discourage Darren from coming out.
After a few successive losses from the Empires, the character of Shane joins the team as a new player. Shane had a heartbreaking childhood that included the murder of his mother, the suicide of his father, and his upbringing at orphanages. The Empires starts to win games again after Shane joins the team, but the character is also clearly very racist and homophobic. Specifically in regard to Darren, Shane brings up his discomfort showering with a “f*ggot” after each game.
The leaked video of Williams features the scene where Darren finally confronts Shane about his racism and homophobia. While both characters are naked in the locker room showers, Darren walks up to Shane, hugs him from the back, and kisses him – an act of defiance against someone who’s been openly racist and homophobic toward him. Darren then throws Shane to the ground and watches him run out of the locker room.
A lot of people are unfamiliar with the plot of Take Me Out and probably didn’t understand what was happening in this scene where Williams’ character is naked and visibly angry but randomly kisses someone who appears to be scared of him. This week, Williams was featured on Watch What Happens Live and downplayed his nudity in the play.
“Everybody makes such a big deal. It’s a body,” he said. “Once you see it, it’s like, whatever.”