According to reports, Henson, who plays Cookie, and Howard, who plays her ex-husband Lucious Lyon, have taken full control over the set and script writing process, leaving many of their castmates frustrated with their diminished lines and screen time.
“They call for re-writes if they don’t like the lines or feel as though another character is getting more camera time than they are,” a source told Daily Mail Online. “They both have final approval over the script, which often frustrates the other actors because it causes their lines to regularly change.”
The source added that Henson and Grace Gealey, who plays Henson’s on-screen nemesis Anika Calhoun, have quite the strained relationship off-screen. “Taraji hates Grace’s tiny figure and often complains to wardrobe about putting her in outfits sexier than her character’s,” the insider revealed.
There is also said to be tension between Howard and Malik Yoba. And Yoba recently spoke out about his disappointment in having to leave the show after his character, Vernon Turner, was killed off in the Season 1 finale.
Speaking recently to OKMagazine.com, though, Serayah McNeill – who plays Tiana Brown on the show – didn’t hint at any issues among the show’s leads and the rest of the cast. She said she enjoyed working with Henson and Howard while filming the pilot last year and respects both of the actors. “[Taraji] and Terrence go at it scene for scene, ad-libs and they let them just go,” she said. “I love that our writers and producers let us have a lot of free will as far as doing what’s comfortable for our characters and letting us portray that.” She also praised Henson for her comedic timing and being a “genius” when it comes to her acting skills.
And Henson had nothing to say about the rumors when asked about the reported drama as she left LAX airport on Wednesday, ignoring questions about the alleged feuding as she walked to her waiting vehicle. So it remains unconfirmed by any of show’s cast if the feud talk is as serious as it sounds.
But reported dissension among the show’s stars isn’t the only issue plaguing Empire at the moment. Fox is also dealing with a lawsuit over the show after the network received demand letters from San Francisco-based Empire Distribution Inc. The label requested that Fox change the show’s name, pay $8 million or pay the label $5 million and guarantee that the label’s artists be included on the show’s upcoming second season as “regular guest stars,” reports The Hollywood Reporter. In response to the demand letters, Fox sued the record label in an attempt to get permission for the network to use the title Empire for the show.