*Despite all the drama surrounding Jussie Smollett, “Empire” star Taraji P. Henson says everything is just “loverly” on the set.
While promoting her new film, “The Best of Enemies” in New York on Sunday, Henson confided to ET that “it’s a great atmosphere” on the set of the Fox TV show.
She went on to say that the mood on set during the production the popular series hasn’t changed much in the wake of co-star Jussie Smollett’s high-profile situation. Even though she wouldn’t comment on the rest of what Smollett is dealing with, she did say she’s excited for what’s in store for the remainder of season five.
“Cookie’s on a really emotional roller coaster this year,” Henson teased, referring to her iconic “Empire” character, Cookie Lyon. “She’s finding herself.”
Henson, concerned about letting out any spoilers, did admit that because they are finished filming, she knows which Empire character is in the coffin — referring to the season’s ongoing mystery regarding which character is going to be killed off this season — but says she’s ain’t spilling the beans. No sirm, buddy! 🙂
Smollett, meanwhile, is still appearing on episodes of the show that were shot before his alleged attack on Jan. 29, but has reportedly been written out of episodes he would have otherwise been expected to shoot. Last Thursday, the 36-year-old actor pleaded not guilty to the 16 felony counts he was indicted on earlier this month.
OK, enough about “Empire,” up top we mentioned that Henson was in NYC doing press for her new film, “The Best of Enemies.”
Henson plays Ann Atwater, a civil rights activist in Durham, North Carolina who frequently faces off against the local leader of the Klu Klux Klan, C. P. Ellis (Sam Rockwell). In a twist that could only happen in real life, the ideological enemies are forced to work in close quarters when they have to co-chair a community meeting regarding the mandated desegregation of their city’s school system.
Henson says she was drawn to the project because the message is “very relevant” to the times we’re living in now.
“You know, racism is still here and we’re still dealing with and that’s why these movies are important. And the reason why I love this movie is the approach is different,” Henson shared. “Ann realized that she had to change her approach. [She and Ellis] were both… very passionate about what they believed, but on opposite sides of the spectrum. And it wasn’t until she fell back and she had to see him as a human [that she realized] barking and yelling at each other, that goes nowhere. That’s hate. Hate never wins.”
Look for “The Best of Enemies” in theaters April 5.