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Tyler James Williams Opens Up About Seeing Big Bird Without His Head On As A Child Actor

The 'Abbott Elementary' star said he was 'shocked' after walking onto the 'Sesame Street' set as a 7-year-old and seeing the Big Bird puppeteer just hanging out with only the bottom half of the beloved Muppet on.

Tyler James Williams; Big Bird
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic/GettyImages, Noam Galai/FilmMagic/GettyImages

Warning: Can ruin your childlike sense of wonder.

Since the children's program debuted on November 10, 1969, Sesame Street continues to endure and to delight new generations.

The zany yet lovable residents of Sesame Street, such as Kermit, Grover, and Cookie Monster, have made indelible impressions on young viewers who as adults have looked fondly upon them.

Except for actor Tyler James Williams.

The Abbott Elementary star was only seven when he made an appearance on Sesame Street and had a jarring experience on set.

Williams was shook when he realized for the first time that Big Bird was not always as he appeared on TV.

He recalled on the The Jess Cagle Show:

“I remember the moment of walking on set and seeing a man in Big Bird and it stopped me at first."
“The head was off and he just had the legs on, and it definitely shocked me.”

You can watch a clip of his younger self on Sesame Street here.

Sesame Street - Ernie And Tyler James Williams Draws Rubber Duckie On The

Williams did note that despite seeing how the Muppets existed behind the scenes, the production staff did their best to preserve the illusion for the kids on the program.

"They stay in character the entire time,” he recalled and gave an example.

“If it's Elmo, although you can see the hand up the puppet, the voice coming out of the man's mouth will always be Elmo until the kids leave, so that's what helps bridge the gap a little bit."
"I'm seeing behind the curtain, but I'm still getting things here that are comfortable and familiar."

The 31-year-old Golden Globe winner added:

"They're very aware of how, I think, jarring that can be for a kid and they do a really good job of making it feel as natural as possible.”

Last year, social media users were delighted to discover Williams as a little boy on the iconic show.

Despite the jolting reality check, Williams managed to appreciate the hard work that went into bringing the Muppets characters to life.

“You also then get a really good understanding of how hard that job is to do," said Williams.

He described the mechanical process of how Big Bird was brought to life by the actor.

“Big Bird, the man is in the suit, but the mouth is moving from his arm that is stretched up, so you somehow have to be able to stand and move one of the arms and flap it and, you know, walk and do all of this while your other hand is moving along with the mouth."
"I remember looking at that and going, ‘This is much harder than anybody thinks.’"

How are the other Muppets articulated? For Elmo, Williams explained more than one person operates the Muppet.

"It takes two people to do Elmo and to move the hands and the mouth at the same time and they're sliding along the floor together," he said.

Williams had another jaw-dropping revelation to share.

“I hate to break it to you," he warned and said that Oscar the Grouch and Big Bird were played by the same actor.

He also revealed that Mr. Snuffleupagus was also the same person.

“I will say this: Snuffleupagus is the head and then the butt. Those are two different people. That has to be the case, but yeah. The same actor does all three.”

It all made sense.

You can watch the full interview segment here.

Tyler James Williams Reveals 'Sesame Street'

Williams began his acting career at age four.

After starring in the animated educational TV series Little Bill, lending his voice as Bobby, Williams started appearing in Sesame Street playing himself, or the character "Tyler" from 2000 to 2005.

He later rose to prominence playing the titular character in the popular sitcom Everybody Hates Chris, which is a semi-autobiographical show created by Chris Rock and Ali LeRoi.

As an adult, Williams has made several appearances as a recurring character in TV shows like The Walking Dead, and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders.

He currently stars in ABC's hit mockumentary Abbott Elementary,for which he nabbed a Best Supporting Actor Golden Globe and earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.