The lead actors of the latest music drama get talking
Taraji P Henson and Terrence Howard’s sizzling chemistry is undeniable on the latest hit drama Empire. Now we know why Henson said she would only do the role if Howard was cast as the lead. This is no straightforward family show. Howard plays a reformed drug dealer turned music moghul, Lucious Lyon. As an artiste and CEO of Empire Entertainment, Lyon is at the top of the ladder, but when he is diagnosed with a medical disorder, he must pick one of his three sons —Hakeem, Jamal and Andre—to take over from him. Then comes Henson as the sassy wife Cookie, who was only recently released from jail. ‘‘Expect to have your wig twisted back with the show. It is a multifaceted, multidimensional show that talks about life-changing moments or everyday events that happen in most people’s lives,’’ begins Howard, adding that on screen they deal with things without apology. ‘‘Plus, a lot of incredible music, high fashion, and oh, great one-liners coming from Cookie,’’ quips Henson, who Howard says delivers her punchline brilliantly, and will take a script from ‘zero to 100’.
While both actors are best known for their film roles – Howard was last seen in the comedy St Vincent and Henson was in the thriller No Good Deed – they say the transition to television wasn’t too difficult since they use the same cameras for both formats. ‘‘But you don’t get too much time on television. It is a bit rushed and you need to cram eight pages a day instead of perhaps one a day in film,’’ explains Henson, elaborating that with a good script such as Empire, it feels like a feature film.
Saying it was a no-brainer to take on the show, Henson says that the script read like a feature film, and the name Lee Daniels sealed the deal. ‘‘It had the smell of a perfect storm, if you will. The studio was behind it, the script was amazing, the director, line-up was incredible. We’re witnessing the perfect storm,’’ she says, and Howard agrees. ‘‘All the people have been part of many great projects. But me having Taraji—to be able to dance with my friend again. That was great. Some of the songs should be number one songs on the radio—that’s how good the music is. We will shake you up,’’ he concludes.Weekdays, 10 pm on FX.