terrence howard and taraji p. henson*If you enjoyed watching Terrence Howard on Fox’s new show “Empire” which debuted last night (01-07-15), then you can thank his co-star Taraji P. Henson.

According to Howard, it was the duo’s onscreen chemistry in 2005’s “Hustle & Flow” that played greatly in “Empire” creator Lee Daniels’ decision to hire him as the show’s lead.

“Lee was auditioning Taraji and she said, ‘If you’re not using Terrence Howard then I’m not doing it. How’s that one?’ (and she hung up the phone),” Howard said during an interview with Deadline Hollywood. “Remember, Taraji is the same person who tried to audition for ‘Precious’ — I’m not lying! She’s a cornucopia of crazy and that’s really the reason why I am here.”

In addition to revealing how he got the role on “Empire,” Howard opened up about filming one of the show’s most difficult scenes, which showed his character, Lucious, throwing his son in a trash can after discovering him wearing his mother’s shoes and head scarf. For Daniels, the scene was especially difficult, in light of it striking a personal nerve.

“Lee Daniels was that little boy and his father put him in the trash can,” Howard revealed. “Watching Lee while we were shooting this — at one point, he had to look away because he was in tears, because he was facing it. His mother was also there on the set. It was cathartic for Lee.”

“Lee would not allow me to show any compassion in the scene,” the actor continued. “He reminded me how much Lucious loved little Jamal, but my need for the boy to be a strong man was greater than my need to show my love to him. That was a difficult scene.”

Howard’s revelation about Daniels isn’t the first time the filmmaker’s childhood incident was brought up. Daniels himself detailed the situation with his father during a 2013 interview on “Larry King Now.”

“My dad was playing cards one Sunday with his cop friends and I put on my mother’s red pumps and walked down the stairs…and then I got beat,” Daniels told King. “He beat me severely for it. But that didn’t stop me, because the following Sunday I put on her blue high-heel shoes and walked down the stairs, this time with her purse.”