Cookie Lyon is not a forever-type character – at least not for award-winning actress Taraji P. Henson who has portrayed the feisty queen of Empire for the last three years.
Though the fictional role became a fan favorite, Henson admits that Cookie is wearing her out in an interview with Variety, ahead of Wednesday night’s mid-season return.
“I could not do this forever,” Henson expressed to the publication with a laugh. “Cookie wears me out! She is emotionally all over the place. She drains me. I’ve got to get as far away from Cookie as possible.”
When the show first started, it was that same push and wide range of emotions that scared Henson when being approached with the co-starring role.
Cookie Lyon is loud, gritty with her choice of words, cutthroat and extremely edgy. These characteristics made Henson think twice about how she’d be received.
“I thought people would hate her…that’s a character, that if its not handled correctly, it would turn the audience off.”
As a competitive leader in the Fox hit series, Cookie’s grittiness is matched with her slick and even comedic one-liners. In season one, the term “Boo Boo Kitty” had the right ingredients to become a viral tag and her spats with Naomi Campbell’s character offered haute line-for-line insults.
Though Henson’s portrayal of the animal-print wearing mother of three boys has been an unimagined success, it’s also been quite rewarding. The role led to the star earning an Emmy-nomination and winning a Golden Globe award.
Empire is already signed up for another season and even with Henson’s exhaustion of Ms.Lyons, there’s still one job she’d like to try before she makes a parting decision: directing.
The bug hasn’t fully hit her yet, but if the opportunity comes, she’s definitely not opposed.
“It’s a lot of work…I don’t know if I could be in it and direct, but that feels like something I should do because I’m an actress and I’m on a television show and you should. Why not? So the answer is yes. I want to learn more.”
Empire returns Wednesday, March 22 on Fox, 8/7 cst.