‘Empire’ Cast Reacts to Season Finale Death: ‘It Was Like a Tornado’

Fresh off of a suspenseful season finale, the cast of “Empire” hit the red carpet for their second For Your Consideration Emmy event at Fox lot’s Zanuck Theater. The stars said they were still reeling from Wednesday night’s cliffhanger.

Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, Jussie Smollett, Bryshere Y. Gray, Trai Byers, Grace Gealey, Gabourey Sidibe, Ta’Rhonda Jones and Serayah McNeill attended the event on Friday and everyone’s reaction was a mix of excitement, shock and nervousness.

  • Howard: “Who the hell wrote this and how can I figure out where they’re going next? I loved it because I didn’t know where we were going and as an actor, that’s what you want. You like it when the director doesn’t give you the last 10 pages of the script because then you can’t do an impersonation of yourself and you can’t act like God predicting the future. It’s nice not to know the future and to have to live within the constraints of mortal man in trying to guess what’s going to happen.”
  • Sidibe: “I was like, ‘Oh s—!’ We had a table read for it and we could not believe what was going to happen and it was amazing. The way they set it up we don’t know who is going over that cliff.
  • Jones: “I had a stroke, heart attack, aneurysm. I had anything you can name. I definitely didn’t expect Rhonda to react the way she did. I didn’t expect her to be so gangsta. Her inner Cookie came out.”
  • Gray: “The season finale was turned up, turned up,” sang Gray. “It was epic, unpredictable and it had so many side turns and alley ways.”
  • Gealey: “Oh my gosh I think I was like everybody. I literally was like, ‘Ooh ah ooh ah nooo!’ It was all of that in one.”
  • Byers: “I was nervous. It’s one thing to film it and it’s another thing seeing it right in front of your eyes and what the edits are going to be. It’s always different from what you expect. But, I had fun.”
  • McNeil: “It was like a tornado. Everything just kept happening and at the end you don’t know what happens. I mean obviously I knew some of what was going on but we still don’t know who is going to die. So that’s the good thing; we get to be compelled by the story as well.”
  • Smollett: “It’s quite the cliffhanger, so it’s going to be an exciting season three. I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen, I don’t know who really went over that cliff. I know nothing, so it’s exciting.”
  • Henson: “I knew what was happening. I still don’t know who lives. They don’t tell us anything, so I’m still waiting to see who fell off the balcony myself.”

The cast was also joined by “Empire” executive producer Ilene Chaiken and producer/director Sanaa Hamri. The cast and producers took the stage for a Q&A after a screening for fans and TV academy members. The event was followed by an “Empire” after-party held on the Fox lot which many of the cast members attended, including Jones and McNeil.

The 68th Emmy Award nominations will be annouced on July 14 and the ceremony will be held on Sept. 18.

“Empire” returns this fall on Fox.

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