Oh, Mr. Howard. We simply HAD to sit down with actor Terrence Howard for an exclusive interview about all things "Empire". The Academy Award nominee dished on playing the controversial role of a father with a gay son. And he also spilled on how his co-star Taraji P. Henson played a major part in him landing the role, their on-screen chemistry and much more. Get it all inside….
The countdown for the highly anticipated FOX drama series “Empire” is officially underway. And TheYBF.com caught up with lead star Terrence Howard for some dishy chit chat as he told us about his role as Lucious Lyon.
The new drama series, written & directed by Academy Award nominee Lee Daniels, tells the story of how the CEO of Empire Entertainment and former street thug (and charismatic, savvy music superstar father of three sons) owned the Hip Hop game with his skills and wit. But in a turn of events, the Hip Hop mogul learns he has ALS (which will render him crippled in a matter of three years), so he’s on the hunt for his successor. His ex-wife Cookie Lyon (played by Taraji P. Henson) and his offspring battle for his throne.
The problem is…none of his sons meet his expectations to become the heir to the family dynasty.
YBF correspondent Safiya Ellis got a chance to chop it up with the Best Man Holiday star (who has three children in real life) where he shared his feelings about playing a controversial father raising a gay son. Terrence told us,
“Well, I loved the fact that the character, you know having a homosexual son in a state of family when family should 'ya know, here he is a hip hop mogul. He is supposed to be the epitome of a 'man' in the black community. He's raising three strong Hip Hop sons and one of his sons is homosexual. “
On the show, Lucious hates the fact his son is a homosexual and is embarrassed by it all. Their relationship is beyond dysfunctional as derogatory names repeatedly get unapologetically tossed around.
“Ya know Lucious calls him a ‘bitch’ and he makes no qualms about that,” revealed Terrence.
Lucious’ bad boy image and the fact that he feels untouchable allows him to say and do anything he wants. Terrence explained,
“So for me to play a character that is Archie Bunker, or really the rest of America unmasked, Lucious says exactly how he feels when he feels it...And despite who's watching. Because he has five billion dollars and he doesn’t need anybody's approval, 'ya know."
“It's being able to play somebody that’s brutally, objectively and subjectively honest, in every circumstance.”
The Butler actor also talked about the undeniable on-screen chemistry between himself and No Good Deed star Taraji P. Henson, whom he has starred in several projects with. He revealed Taraji requested he play the role of Lucious to Lee Daniels and said if he wasn’t a part of the project, she was dropping out! Sound familiar? She did something similar with Idris Elba for No Good Deed.
Terrence tells us,
“She was on a Skype conversation with Lee and he was auditioning her and she was like ‘well if your not going to use Terrence Howard I’m not going to do it!’ Click! And Lee was like ‘Huh’? Lee listened and she can’t be a better Cookie. She says the same thing about me, but yea you can imagine that we love each other very much [on the show].”
We love seeing them together!
Peep more highlights from our chat below:
You are playing a major role reversal when it comes to what one would say is typically seen. Your ex wife and mother of your three children Cookie (Taraji) does a 17 year bid in prison and you have to take care of the kids while aking on a 'mother' role. How do you feel about that?
TH: Well one of the things that I love about Taraji or Cookie is that she recognizes what was going to be most beneficial for the family. Lucious could have gone to jail and taken the time, but Lucious was the talent. Lucious was able to translate that $400,000 dollars and turn it into a multi billion dollar business. I think they made the right choice in that. Was he fit to be a mom? No. No man is fit to be a mom. He didn’t do too good of a job as a father because he was so busy trying to make sacrifice. You're either going to make the money or you're going to have a great family. Make the money or have a great family. Most people make the mistake of making the money, and the purpose of making the money is to raise the family. Then they loose the family.
So I approached it from those points -- you don’t realize the regret of your life until it’s over. And he didn’t realize it until he finds out he has ALS and he realizes he will never get to rebuild that relationship or get back tha time he spent out on tour making money or in a meeting or leaving his wife in jail for that period of time. You will never get that time back. So, I’m approaching it from that place of missed time and trying to desperately grab at whatever moment that you have now. And you cant be nice about it because look, kids, y’all don’t know I’m dying in three years? I need you to get your head right.
Lee Daniels and Danny Strong. We always consider Lee Daniels a button pusher because he tackles issues that are very controversial and you mentioned your character battling ALS. News around the disease is pretty current with the ice bucket challenges that took place. How were you really able to researche and get into character? Or is that something that you were dealing with personally with family?
TH: Fortunately, my family has been free of any kind of muscular disorders. I’m so thankful on that behalf, but one of the beautiful things and the terrible things about ALS is often times its misdiagnosed because the symptoms aren’t consistent with particularly losing your voice. One of the things you loose is your muscle control in your voice box, so you may have trimmers or you may not have trimmers. There is a fear of what’s about to happen. Maybe while I’m walking down these stairs my leg will give out or I may bust my face on this concrete. The fear is what is consistent throughout this disease.
So if they entered into the acting business, what advice would you give to your three children?
A: To remember there are no black eyes and bloody noses, it's life or death. So any scene that you're in, you find the truth. And you don’t let it go, no matter how somebody might try and seduce you here or there. You stick to your truth and you stay there and the audience will always believe a truthful person.
Check out this promo reel featuring the father-son dynamic between Lucious and his homosexual son below:
The epic family battle begins when the powerful new drama premieres Wednesday, Jan. 7th at 9 PM ET on FOX. We can't wait!