Cast of ‘Empire’ Reveal Pre-Show Secrets at NYC Premiere

13 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

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The cast of the hit series Empire were tight-lipped about the drama that unfolds on the upcoming second season, but when it came to discussing secrets about the show before it had its launch earlier this year — they were revealing. “Where we are in America with race relations is an ugly place and it is time for us to blow the roof off this mother—-r,” he told a raucous standing room only crowd Saturday night at a Carnagie Hall screening of the “Empire” second season premier. “We are all one,” he shrieked to the nearly 3,000 people who had squeezed into the historic theater to get a sneak peek at the breakout Fox nighttime soap, which returns on Sept. 23. Emmy nominee Taraji P Henson, Terrence Howard, creator Lee Daniels and more from the top-rated Fox show premiered the season two opener at Carnegie Hall in New York City on Saturday in front of a feverish audience.

The hip-hop drama’s explosive first season did the unthinkable, gaining exponentially more viewers with each passing week, and the two-hour finale culminated in a whopping 16.5 million viewers. Howard entered the prestigious venue, where few from the hip-hop world have performed, with his fist up in the air and yelled “Empire!” as the audience applauded. The Lyons and their embattled music industry dynasty returns with Lucious (Terrence Howard) in prison, his three sons at one another’s throats and his scheming estranged-wife Cookie (Taraji P. Henson to say, “He’s got the job” and Terrence Howard to proclaim, “He’s the baddest (rhymes with Mitch) in the room.” He even sang a little of the song too, only people watching online didn’t get to hear it because the censors hit the mute button to avoid paying royalties to Robin Thicke, Pharrell and the Marvin Gaye estate.) Smollett told the audience, “I said I had to play to play Jamal.

But whatever lingering somberness there might have been regarding the date was quickly dispelled when all five floors of Carnegie Hall sang “Happy Birthday” to her, just a week before she competes for the Best Actress Emmy on Sept. 20. But after the juicy episode aired, the show’s producers and cast, including Jussie Smollett and Gabourey Sidibe, sat down for a question-and-answer session that was hilarious and intense, but overall, in the show’s fashion, dramatic — curse words and all. Fox screened the first episode of the season for a standing-room only crowd at New York’s Carnagie Hall – which was appropriate because the show already feels more saturated with a New York vibe than last season. I slid up in Lee Daniels’ DMs like Hiiiii.” The Oscar nominee explained, “I was having lunch with (series creator and her Precious director) Lee Daniels said if you like that, we can just ignore that and figure it out. In advance and celebration of season 2, Fox is set to host a live stream event featuring performances and a panel Q&A from the show’s stars and creators, beginning Saturday at 8 p.m.

Henson, Daniels and the cast spoke at length about how they were surprised that a series such as Empire had found success on prime-time television, or as Henson put it, “free TV.” The first season of the show, starring Howard as drug dealer-turned-rapper-turned-record label owner Lucious Lyon, has seen ratings grow each episode and its finale drew 17 million viewers. “I honestly thought, ‘This would be great. The “We Belong Together” singer will guest star on an upcoming episode of “Empire.” At a jam-packed after party following the screening, Rafael De LaFuente who plays Michael Sanchez, Jamal’s boyfriend on “Empire” admitted he’s into kissing his onscreen beau – another culturally-charged moment on the show. We will put this incredible work in the can and Fox would choke and put it on cable,” said Henson, who earned an Emmy nomination for playing Cookie Lyon. “And I get the call that the show is picked up.

Nearby, Ta’Rhonda Jones, who plays Cookie’s tough assistant, Porsha, revealed that she had been working in a nursing home kitchen in Chicago when she landed her role on “Empire.” “This is super crazy,” she said, noting the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd. The episode picks up three months after last season’s finale, opening with a “Free Lucious” rally in Central Park with Cookie playing to the crowd, screaming: “How much longer are they going to treat us like animals?” With patriarch Lucious Lyons behind bars, last season’s power struggle between his sons has been dominated by the one who wanted to take over the hip-hop music moguls empire the least: middle son, Jamal (Jussie Smollett). Are they crazy?’” “You want to do the work that’s going to challenge people to think and ruffle feathers and get people upset and spark intelligent conversations so that change can happen,” she continued. One of the best moments happens when Lucious is beamed into a conference room – if anyone could Skype from prison it would be Lucious – and he lets loose with an evil laugh.

Henson also said Empire is more than just a TV series and called her and Howard’s characters, former drug dealers, “heroes in a very American way.” “’Cause you can judge [Cookie], you can say whatever you want about her, about Lucious, about what they did to get where they are, but at the end of the day, their sons are not statistics. Smollett, who plays an openly gay singer and succeeded his father to run Empire Entertainment, said he auditioned for the role of Jamal by singing Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines a cappella. Following the question-and-answer session, he and his TV brother, Bryshere “Yazz” Gray, went on to perform popular songs from the series, including Drip Drop and You’re So Beautiful. I originally thought I was going to be a rapper for Terrence Howard because that’s what my brother called me and told me,” said Jones, a rapper who had never acted. “Terrence Howard was looking for female rappers in their 20s and I thought he was trying to come out with a Hustle & Flow [record] label.”

I would like to play Cookie’s long-lost brother who comes back into her life after being the black sheep of the family or getting cast off or being in a mental institution.

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