Admit it: You want to see “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2.” No, it’s not hip. It’s certainly not cool. It even is a little bit childish. But the first one was irresistibly enjoyable — and that was before Blake Lively became a Gossip Girl and America Ferrera turned into Ugly Betty.
This story first appeared in the July 17, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
In the August 6 release, the four BFFs, played by Lively, Ferrera, Amber Tamblyn and Alexis Bledel are off on their own adventures: apprenticing with theater companies, reconnecting with long-lost relatives, working the register at the local video store.
Actor Jesse Williams enters the picture as one of the film’s few male characters, a free-spirited art student who romances Bledel’s Lena at the Rhode Island School of Design. From the moment he first read the part, Williams says: “I knew this guy.” After all, he, too, went to school in Providence and his two younger brothers studied in the same RISD program as his character.
The chick flick’s token hunk sat down with WWD at the Tribeca Grand — where he worked as a bartender only 10 months ago — to prove he’s more than just a pretty face.
Background: Williams is half African-American and half Swedish. “Like really Swedish,” he adds. “We sing Swedish songs and celebrate Swedish holidays.”
Education: Temple University in Philadelphia, where he majored in African-American studies and filmmaking.
First jobs: After graduation, Williams taught in charter schools around Philadelphia. “That’s my favorite job I’ve had in my whole life. These kids were in desperate need of someone to teach them they can be something other than 50 Cent,” he says. He also put in 70 hour weeks at several New York City law firms — a job for which he admits he was vastly underqualified.
Breaking in: During college, Williams modeled in campaigns for Kenneth Cole and appeared in commercials. Two years ago, he decided to pursue acting full-time.
Body of work: Williams has a thing for taking his shirt off for his roles. In the latest “Sisterhood” installment, he models nude for an art class. “They cut it so I just end up being shirtless,” he says of the scene. “But did I take off all my clothes to shoot it? Maybe.” Still, he’s unafraid of being typecast as a piece of meat. “The important thing would be for me to have discretion going forward. If I do that three more times, then that’s my own fault.”
Up next: “Brooklyn’s Finest.” Williams plays a rookie cop opposite Richard Gere, Don Cheadle and Wesley Snipes. “It’s a great follow-up [to “Sisterhood”],” he says. “It’s like, give me a f—ing gun, let me run around and shoot some people and curse as much as possible. And keep my clothes on.”
Finish this phrase: Brotherhood of the Traveling… “Britches.”