The 'Everybody Hates Chris' alum wrote of his former costar: "I ran into him last year and told him how proud and thankful I am to have worked with someone who, at such a young age, carried the show"
In a tribute written about Williams, who is one of this year’s TIME 100 Next honorees, the America’s Got Talent host, 55, reminisced about working with Williams, now 30, when he was starring in Everybody Hates Chris at the young age of 13.
The former NFL pro recalled feeling “nervous” about his first television gig on the early 2000s sitcom loosely based on Chris Rock’s youth in New York City. According to Crews, he'd been warned that “the biggest obstacles on set were kids and animals,” so he knew whoever was cast to play a version of the Saturday Night Live alum “would need to be a superstar.”
Future Brooklyn Nine-Nine star Crews also admitted in his essay that, as a father himself, he “worried about the pressure children in Hollywood face.”
“Then we had our first scenes together,” Crews wrote. “Tyler delivered his lines effortlessly, his comedic instincts razor-sharp. And when he was done working, he broke out into a big, beautiful smile.”
“That Tyler has grown into a brilliant talent is no surprise," Crews continued. "I ran into him last year and told him how proud and thankful I am to have worked with someone who, at such a young age, carried the show. He gave me that smile.”
“There’s nothing harder than going from child star to adult star, but Tyler has always been comfortable with himself, and it’s why he’ll continue to shine,” he summed up.
Crews and Williams starred in Everybody Hates Chris for four seasons from 2005 to 2009. Since taking on the titular role, Williams has gone onto act in the 2014 movie Dear White People and book parts in The Walking Dead and Criminal Minds.
He cemented his leading man status in 2021 whenAbbott Elementary debuted and fans met his character Gregory Eddie. (Williams has gone on to win a 2023 Golden Globe and earn two Emmy nominations for the role).
Back in March, Williams recalled how a producer on Everybody Hates Chris once told him, "I'll never see you as anything else and you'll probably never work again."
He told GQ, "I was like, 'Holy s---, you really just looked at me and said that.'" Though Williams acknowledged the comment could have been a joke, he still took it to heart.
The actor added that he understood "pretty f---ing quickly" that young celebrities can get pigeonholed into perpetually playing teen roles — this epiphany allowed Williams to change the path of his career after Everybody Hates Chris ended.
"I realized at 17 that I didn't like the road I was on," he explained. "So I decided to stop and pivot. I got with a really good acting coach and I turned down every single thing I was offered."
Despite this, Williams said his time on the sitcom taught him an important lesson: "I learned how to carry a show in a matter of two or three months. It's the most useful information I've ever gotten in my life."
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America's Got Talent airs Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. Abbott Elementary can be streamed on Hulu, Brooklyn Nine-Nine on Peacock and Everybody Hates Chris on Prime Video.
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