Just days before the premiere of Empire's ridiculously star-loaded second season, we now have this slightly depressing piece of narrative news: Chris Rock's character was originally meant to be a cannibal, but FOX simply couldn't stomach one of the world's greatest comedians taking a turn as a human-hungry inmate.
Lee Daniels, Empire's fearless leader, and his failed path to a cannibalistic Chris Rock are outlined in great detail in a new Hollywood Reporter cover story:
According to multiple insiders, Fox brass shot down an early idea to have Chris Rock's character, who's in jail with Lucious, be a cannibal in the first episode of the season. But Daniels, who directed the season opener, is said to have ignored the mandate and shot the Rock story as initially envisioned, including one particularly grotesque scene featuring the actor with a plate of human body parts before him. Rock agreed to return to the series' Chicago set for reshoots this summer, where sources say the cannibal plotline was scaled back to the point of barely detectable at the network's insistence.
As for the seemingly endless list of guest stars poised to invade the series this year, Daniels is quick to remove himself from responsibility, placing the burden of the entire decision squarely on FOX's shoulders. "You think we wanted the names? No, it was [FOX] that wanted them," Daniels reveals. "Don't get it twisted." Daniels also defends star Terrence Howard, whose off-camera troubles have been claimed to have impacted Lucious Lyon's narrative. "That poor boy," says Daniels. "[Terrence] ain't done nothing different than Marlon Brando or Sean Penn, and all of a sudden he's some fuckin' demon. That's a sign of the time, of race, of where we are right now in America."
Empire returns to FOX on September 23.