Forget all the drama, the allegations, the court battles and the investigations. When it comes how Terence Howard feels about his former Empire co-star Jussie Smollett the answer is plain: he misses his son. The actor appeared on The Late Late Show on Tuesday night (Sept. 24), just hours after the Fox musical drama came back for the premiere episode of its final season.
Howard got emotional when host James Corden asked him to react to the sacking of Smollett in the wake of what Chicago police claim was the actor’s false claim about an alleged racist attack, but he pulled no punches about the winding down of the troubled arc of his topline character, Lucious Lyon; Chicago police found that Smollett had fabricated the incident and in February he was arrested and charged with filing a false police report and faced 16 counts of disorderly conduct, until states attorney Kim Fox dropped all charges unexpectedly on March 26.
“Thank God,” Howard exhaled when asked by Corden about the final season six run. “Only because my character has never had a good day. My son will commit suicide, I will go and kill my best friend and then I’ll sit up and have eggs and be complaining about the yolk being runny in the morning, as if I don’t care. And then the next I have to go and love my wife but then go and try and sabotage her at the end of the day. I’m a complete sociopath and psychopath.”
“So you’re not gonna miss that?” Corden wondered.
“A little,” Howard said with a mischievous grin. Corden asked what it was like on the set dealing with the daily drama of Smollett’s allegations and investigation and if Howard had kept in touch with his former co-star, whose character, Jamal, was disappeared to London in Tuesday night’s season premiere. “Yes, we have. Jussie played my son,” Howard said, explaining that the heart-wrenching early plot line in which Lucious literally put a four year-old Jamal in the garbage for wearing his mother’s high heels bonded them forever.
“I was so proud of that young man that played my son because he still loved me at the end of it and all he wanted to do was get closer to me and then out of nowhere he’s snatched away from us,” Howard said of the show’s producer’s decision to cut Smollett from the end of season five and write his character out of the final stretch. “He was the heart of our show and now it’s like our show is on a heart and lung bypass machine. Because the heart is gone but we’re still hoping that there’s gonna be a transplant.” Smollett has steadfastly denied the allegations that he made up the attack.
Howard said the cast is still trying to figure out how it felt on the set in the wake of the off-screen tumult. “I don’t know what it was like, I’m still trying to figure it out. We are all still trying to put the pieces together because my son is gone. My son. That was my little boy and he’s gone now and they don’t mention him as if it’s okay.”
Corden also asked about Howard’s claim on Sunday’s Emmys red carpet that he was going to retire once the Empire season ends, an interview that instantly went viral because of the actor’s mystical soliloquy about some discoveries he claimed to have made recently about Pythagoras and opening the “flower of my life properly and find(ing) the real wave conjugations that we’ve been looking for for 10,000 years.”
“I’m dead serious. I’m so done with pretending to be people and I just want to be real for a minute,” Howard said, noting that he might take actor Colin Farell’s advice to “not bathe for a month” to find out who he really is.
Watch Howard on The Late Late Show below.