*“The way the ‘Empire’ cast came together was complete serendipity,” admits Lee Daniels, creator and executive producer of the hit series that is setting weekly ratings records and defying gravity at Fox.
Envious of the performance-driven series “Glee,” Daniels had been thinking of way to make his own musical series on TV when his creative partner Danny Strong, who wrote “The Butler,” pitched him the idea of Shakespeare’s King Lear set in a family-owned record company.
Once the idea was locked down, Daniels went about securing his Oscar-nominated “Precious” actress Gabourey Sidibe.
“We got Gaby, you know, we’re a family. I work from a place of working with the same people over and over again. And Terrence [Howard] and I were looking for something to do. We didn’t know whether there was going to be the Marvin Gaye story,” said Daniels, referring to a biopic that at one point had Howard attached to star.
“After ‘The Butler’ we were trying to figure out what to do. And then this came.”
Below, Daniels details his first Skype conversation with Henson to discuss the role of Cookie Lyon.
“Empire” airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on Fox.