PASADENA, Calif. – Terrence Howard said there are aspects of his new show, “Empire,” and specifically his character Lucious Lyon, that aren’t so politically correct.
Fox’s new hyper dramatic series follows a musical family, and Howard plays the anti-hero, the demanding and homophobic patriarch of the group.
He said because the creators of "Empire" set out to make a show that is genuine, sometimes his character says things that could set of the PC police.
“Most of the world today aren’t so PC in what they are doing,” Howard told the crowd at the TCA Winter Press Tour. “We are not doing PC shows. We are [setting the show] behind closed doors in a family situation and trying to tell it as honestly as possible.”
He said the show is confronting issue of homophobia in the African-American community head-on.
“I am glad I can show the African-American community this is what you are doing to your son, this is what you are doing to your nephew, this is what you are doing to the kid down the street,” Howard said.
He added that his character is based off of creator Lee Daniels’ father.
“...There are pieces of Lucious that definitely have Lee’s father in there,” Howard said. “What we’re doing is telling a little bit of the story of Lee growing up in that way.”
It didn’t take as much convincing as you may think to get Howard on to a TV series.
“We had had such a great time doing ‘The Butler’ that I was glued to Lee’s hip.”
His costar Taraji Henson called him and insisted he partner with her on the show.
“I called him and I threatened his life,” she said. “I have a way with words.”
Howard said the role frightened him at first but the idea of working with Henson and Daniels prompted him to move to TV.
Since its Jan. 7 premiere, the show has been deemed a soap opera by critics, but it’s a title the cast and creators are fully embracing. Daniels compared it to the soap hits of the past.
“I miss ‘Dynasty,’” he said. “I grew up with ‘Dynasty.’”
Howard agreed, “Life is a soap opera, all the way around."
Plus, Daniels said, the show is extremely real to him.
“That show is my life. ‘Empire’ is my life. It’s mixed with happiness and sadness… there is a fine balance. Are we laughing at this? Are we crying at this?”
Howard noted that his controversial character is slowly beginning to win over audiences.
“Yes, he’s homophobic. Yes, he’s a murderer, but he is human,” Howard said passionately. “And how do we like him?... He’s flawed and that’s what makes him so loveable.”
“Empire” was given the green light for a second season after just two episodes of the show had aired. The series airs Wednesdays on Fox.