The Golden Globe winner opens up about his struggle with Crohn's Disease with 'Men's Health.'
The last few years have been a transformative time for Tyler James Williams. While the former child actor has become a household name anew thanks to his role as the lovable straight-man Gregory Eddie on Abbott Elementary, his path to award winner has been a long journey of typecasting and bodily struggles.
In a recent interview for Men's Health, the actor opens up about his battle with Crohn’s disease and learning to listen to his body as he went from playing an adolescent Chris Rock to one of everyone's favorite sitcom teachers.
"I was trying to read for roles that were my age and I couldn't get out of high school," Williams tells the outlet, explaining his struggle to find age-appropriate work after Everybody Hates Chris.
But the battle wasn't just about finding work; the actor was unknowingly battling Crohn's disease. He continually tried to gain and keep muscle on his wry frame, but searing stomach pain prevented any success. "I was really pushing my body to the limit," he says. "By the time December hit, it just crashed. Everything shut down."
In 2017, a gastroenterologist at NYU Langone revealed the culprit to be a massive flare-up from Crohn's disease, a disorder Williams didn't even know he had. The actor underwent emergency surgery to remove six inches of his lower intestine, but because his intestines couldn't heal back together, they perforated and he went septic.
"The last thought I had was 'Holy s**t, this could be it. If this is it, I'm not happy. I worked a lot. I did a lot of things. I didn't enjoy any of this. This can't be it,'" Williams recalls of going septic. "When I woke up and eventually got back to [being] myself, it was like, what would make it not suck?"
One answer to that has been Quinta Brunson's critically acclaimed, award-winning ABC series.
The beloved series -- which was just renewed for season 3 and stars Brunson, Williams, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Lisa Ann Walter, Chris Perfetti and Janelle James -- returned for its second season on Sept. 21 and it's steadily racking up accolades as awards season begins again. The ABC series scored three of its five nominations during this year's Golden Globe Awards, including Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy.
Williams took home his first-ever Globe for Best Supporting Actor in a Television Series that night, which was presented by The White Lotus' Jennifer Coolidge.
"Wow, wow. The magnitude of the moment is not lost on me," Williams said when he took the stage to collect his award. "I want to start off by thanking first and foremost my cast and my crew. I love y'all. It's an honor to work with you every day."
"To Quinta Brunson, Randall Einhorn, Patrick Schumacher, all of our producers," he continued, before thanking his agents, lawyer, publicist and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
"I truly, truly appreciate this and I pray that this is a win for Gregory Eddie," Williams added, referring to his Abbott Elementary character. "And for his story and for stories like his. That we may understand that his story is just as important as all of the other stories that have to be told out here."
Abbott Elementary airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.