CURIOUS TV SCORES ON MUSIC
After her Oscar-nominated performance in The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, a curious thing happened to Taraji P. Henson: television bosses fell over themselves to sign the star.
With the same swagger as her latest role in Ten’s US drama series, Empire, Henson cuts to the chase when she talks about the difference between making it big on the big screen then going small.
“You don’t get much time on television ... it can be a bit rushed, it feels a bit rushed,” says the 44-year-old.
“You have to cram in eight pages a day.
“In film, you do one page a day, you know, so you can let scenes breathe and moments breathe.”
But her breathless experience on TV has turned her latest gig into a monster hit, pulling record audiences for Fox in the US and making TV Alisters of its cast.
The strength of the show, she says, is it’s good scripts – telling the story of a hip hop family, embroiled in inheritance issues, drugs and the kind of drama director Lee Daniels used to love seeing on prime-time ‘80s soap Dynasty.
Henson plays Cookie Lyon, the outspoken ex-wife of music mogul Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard), who has just finished a 17-year stretch in prison for drug dealing but is making up for lost time in a dogged pursuit of her family’s share of his fortune.
Sniffing a hit, Henson describes the show’s ratings success as “the perfect storm”.
Add to the mix of new talent and seasoned showrunners, is a soundtrack not seen since Glee.
“When I read (about the music), I was like, ‘This is gonna shake up the world, this is going to shake up TV and I wanna be a part of it’.”
Unlike the covers on Glee, though, the Empire song list is mostly originals, breaking new artists while boasting cameo appearances that read like the Grammys guest list.
Taraji P. Henson stars in US drama Empire.