Could Jackson and Jo be the next great couple on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’? HL got EXCLUSIVE scoop from Jesse Williams about how he feels about Jackson and Jo’s relationship, his hopes for Jackson, and more.

Grey’s Anatomy returns with all-new season 17 on March 11, after a nearly 3-month hiatus. In the first part of the season, Jackson and Jo began sleeping with each other but with no feelings attached. Their connection has only gotten stronger amid the chaos around them. Jackson and Jo have agreed to not be in a relationship, but could these hookups eventually lead to love? HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Jesse Williams to get his thoughts on a Jackson and Jo romance.

“You know what? I’ll be honest. I didn’t think so at first,” he told HollywoodLife while promoting Old Spice’s new “Smell Ready for Anything” campaign. “I suspected that this must be a bit of a trap. Somebody gonna catch feelings, and something’s gonna happen. But I will say that the more we’ve done it, the more we spend time working on it, you get a sense of what’s happening with the material. I think it’s possible. I think it’s an interesting example of maturity in a time where both of them probably have no business in a damn relationship after what they’ve been through. That very rarely stops us from getting into relationships in real life. But I think that they could be an example of compartmentalization and finding this as some form of, to use a popular phrase, self-care. I get what I need here, and I can keep moving and not get stuck in a quagmire. So we’ll see. I don’t know where it’s headed. But I have found it to be kind of a pleasant surprise. I think this is actually possible. These characters have the tools to stay focused.”

He even thinks that it’s possible a true romantic relationship between Jackson and Jo could work out. “I think it’s totally possible,” Jesse continued. “I think there’s terrific chemistry there. But that said, it’s also a little easier to have terrific chemistry when we don’t have a lot at stake and when you’re not romantic. Great first dates happen. Talk to me in two years, and it’s a little bit different. But at this stage, I think there’s a nice rhythm there. They’re both wearing their scars on their sleeves. There’s not a lot of secrets there. We both know that. We’re both a mess. That’s fairly clear, and that’s an important part of getting started.”

Grey’s Anatomy is currently in its 17th season and remains the longest-running medical drama. Jesse has played Dr. Jackson Avery since 2009, and he still has ideas about expanding his character even more. “I think what comes to mind is what’s happened this year and what we’re facing in the show,” Jesse said. “It’s a reflection of real life, in terms of what’s happening in the medical community, and I think that it could be interesting to see Jackson look a little deeper. He’s expressing frustration with parity and fairness in the medical field and the system. Like beyond actual surgery and zooming out into administrative policies that actually impact people. I’d love to see a way for him to be impacting working people, vulnerable communities, people that really are being devastated at a different rate by what’s happening this year. That could be interesting for him to kind of step out of the walls of the hospital and use that part of his ability. Whether he can do that without running off into the woods is a different question.”

In the winter finale, Meredith was still struggling with COVID-19. Her condition worsened so much that Richard decided to put her on a ventilator. “I can tell you that it does not get simpler. There are a lot of bumps in the road,” Jesse teased about what’s next. The actor also noted that he thinks it was “really smart” for the show to “tackle COVID and for us to be realistically tied to the world and have our main character really struggle with it. I think in some ways it ties to the campaign today, which is making the most of the time that you have, valuing these opportunities, valuing every day, and knowing that you are prepared so that you don’t leave anything behind. I think that’s certainly happening with Meredith. You sure as hell get some perspective when it can be taken from you.”