Taraji P. Henson
Credit: Monica Schipper/Getty Images    

Empire

How Taraji P. Henson Helped Jussie Smollett Score ‘Empire’ Role

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It's hard to imagine Empire without Taraji P. Henson as Cookie, but that sad state of affairs almost came to be, because the Oscar-nominated actress almost turned the role down.

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Why was Taraji hesitant to tackle what has become a career-defining role?

Well, we've heard before the actress was originally worried the show could be a career killer. She knew it was a risky role and a risky project in general, but after reading the pilot script she realized it was so good, it was a risk she had to take.

Taraji P Henson and Jussie Smollett
Credit: Monica Schipper/Getty Images    

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Turns out, that wasn't the only stumbling block, though. At EW Fest this past Saturday, October 24, the actress dished she went to bat to make sure Jussie Smollett got the role of Jamal, even going so far as to tell the show's producers she and Terrence Howard would walk if he wasn't cast.

"I kinda meant it!" Taraji added. Plus, she added she did the same thing for Terrence Howard to begin with: "I just knew it had to be him and I was willing not to do it."

Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard
Credit: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images    

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Fortunately, Lee Daniels and co. were wise enough to take Taraj's advice, which is how we ended up with the Lyon family we know and love.

Empire Season 2 airs on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on FOX.

Check out more of Wetpaint’s coverage of Empire Season 2 below:


Exclusive: You Gotta Hear This Insane Empire Fan Story 
Tyrese Confirms He's Playing Cookie's Love Interest — Duh
Exclusive: Rafael de la Fuenta Dishes on Season 2
5 Tips for the Best Empire Viewing Party Ever
Empire Spin-Off Coming? 3 Ideas That Could Work