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Forest Whitaker on His ‘Empire’ Role: Eddie Becomes a ‘Consigliere’ to the Lyon Family

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not watched “Full Circle,” the second episode of the fourth season of “Empire.”

It’s been three months since the car bombing that caused Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) to endure a traumatic brain injury and lose part of his leg. But thanks to his old friend Eddie (Forest Whitaker), some of his memories are starting to seep back in.

In the second episode of the fourth season of “Empire,” Lucious reconnected with the “composer, arranger, and super producer” who was the first person to play Lucious’ music on the radio. Early in their careers, Eddie was working at a station whose program director made artist selections based on who bribed him the most, and he encouraged Lucious to pay up. Instead, though, Lucious waited for the guy outside of the station and beat him down. And as Eddie told the story, flashes of the event came to Lucious, visibly startling him and challenging his idea of himself.

“Right now he’s lost,” Whitaker tells Variety about Lucious. “Eddie’s definitely there to help him regain his power. The character’s there to get him back on track and remind Lucious of who he is. It’s not just about remembering what he did but reminding him who he is and making him feel the music again.”

Whitaker says that it’s “definitely possible” that Eddie will be the biggest trigger for Lucious to regain more and more of his memories as episodes unfold (Whitaker is signed to a multi-episode deal as a guest star for this fourth season of Fox’s hit musical drama). Everything that Eddie helps him remember, he wants Lucious to “put into the music.”

Eddie’s impact on Lucious is clearly already important, but he’s not stopping there. Acting as a “consigliere” to the Lyon family’s business, Eddie is around to make sure they don’t fall when their enemies start to sense the patriarch’s weakness.

Immediately upon reconnecting with Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) he offered her some key advice: “What do our families do when a loved one’s sick or dying? We step up,” Eddie reminded Cookie. “You need to get those artists, and they need to support you – they need to hold you up. With music. That’s what Lucious would want.”

As episodes go on, Whitaker notes that Eddie will get to work with a number of artists on the Lyon family’s label. “He becomes the adviser to the family to make sure that they succeed. Without him,” Whitaker says, their endeavors, including the giant undertaking of delivering 20 new albums within the year, would “probably start to fall apart.”

“Not only Cookie, they’re all pulled in different directions, and it’s hard to control. There’s a balance of power, and Eddie is so successful he validates the company,” Whitaker says.

Eddie is also going to help the Lyon family personally, though. Already Cookie confided in Eddie about the true extent of Lucious’ injuries, something only family has been allowed to know thus far.

“At this point, I think she should confide in him,” Whitaker says. “Eddie does deeply care about Lucious and is his friend. And I think she needs that. I think she needs somebody who she can say, ‘I don’t know what to do here’ to. Eddie’s been there for Lucious, and he’s been there for her, and he’s been there for the family. Even though they haven’t seen him in a while, they call him ‘Uncle.'”

Still, Whitaker says that while Eddie is “nice, he might not be a really good person.” Citing the way Eddie laughs when he reminisces over Lucious’ “beat-down” as an example, Whitaker notes that stepping into this role has been a nice step from the many more paternal characters he’s played in the past. But Whitaker also says that Eddie is coming “from the heart” toward the Lyon family so he may just be their No. 1 supporter right now.

Empire” airs at 8 p.m. on Wednesdays on Fox. 

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