"Empire" has exploded with record-breaking ratings success, but the show's star, Terrence Howard, initially thought it would fail.
"I read the script, and it's got Cookie and Lucius and what the hell is all of this? And my gay son?" Terrence – who plays Lucious Lyon on the Fox show – told Billy Bush and Kit Hoover on Monday's Access Hollywood Live. "I didn't think it was going to work."
Not only did he think "Empire" would fail, the actor confessed he thought it was "crap."
"I called my assistant [and said,] 'This is crap. This ain't going to work. How is this going to work? How are they going to shoot this?' Because I thought initially in the very first ten minutes, 12 minutes into the pilot, you've got two black men kissing," he said. "If I was 12 years old and my father came downstairs and saw me watching a TV show that had men kissing, I would have a life-long conversation with my daddy. I'd never be allowed to watch TV [again]."
Times have changed, as Terrence said he's learned.
"That's the environment I grew up in. That's the environment my friends grew up in. So this is a show aimed towards the black demographic. And do you really think that this is going to fly?" he said. "I called Fox. I was like, 'You need to take the kissing out, because this is going to stop, shut down the show.' I was so wrong!"
Adding, "I didn't know how ready the world was to see the truth."
The actor also spoke about his chemistry with co-star Taraji P. Henson (who plays Lucious' ex-wife, Cookie on the show).
"She knows how to flirt just enough to get you interested and then to divert you away into the project of what you need to do," he laughed. "She'll look at you in that little sly way, and give you just a little bit of a hope and promise... she'll give you a crumb but you never can take a whole bite!"
Don't miss the two-hour Season 1 finale of "Empire" – Wednesday at 8/7c on Fox.
-- Erin O'Sullivan