Terrence Howard Says He Misses Jussie Smollett on 'Empire': 'He Was the Heart of Our Show'

Jussie Smollett Terrence Howard
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Terrence Howard is standing by Jussie Smollett even now that he's off Empire.

The 50-year-old actor stopped by The Late Late Show with James Corden on Tuesday and lamented the fact that Smollett isn't on the Fox series for its sixth and final season.

Smollett -- who played Howard's son, Jamal Lyon, on the show -- was written out of the final two episodes of season five after he was arrested in February for allegedly filing a false police report in which he claimed he was a victim of a hate crime. All charges against Smollett have since been dropped, though the city of Chicago is seeking reimbursement from the actor to cover over $130,000 in investigatory fees, which Smollett has refused to cover

"I mean the show kicked off because I took my 4-year-old son and put him in the trash can because he had worn high heel shoes down on the stairs," Howard, who previously defended Smollett, said of the show's first season. "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, you know, he's snatched away from us," he continued. "So it's like now 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 there's going to be a transplant and hoping somehow it'll come back together. I'm sorry to bring you guys down."

Jamal's absence in the sixth and final season has simply been explained by his mother, Cookie (Taraji P. Henson), saying he left for London to escape the Lyon drama. 

Howard added that both he and the cast of Empire are "still trying to put the pieces together," adding, "'cause 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 OK. And it's, like, no. That's not cool."

As for the end of the show itself, Howard declared "thank God" that's it's nearly time to say goodbye.

"Well only because my character has never had a good day. My son will commit suicide, I'll go and kill my best friend and then I'll sit up and have eggs and complain about the yolk being runny in the morning, as if I don't care," he said of his character, Lucious Lyon. "And then the next day I have to go and love my wife, but then go and try to sabotage her at the end of the day. I'm a complete sociopath and psychopath."

"So you're not going to miss that?" Corden questioned.

"A little," Howard responded with a laugh.  

When Empire does air its final episode, Howard plans to walk away from acting, something he said he's "dead serious" about.

"I'm so done with pretending to be people and I just want to be real for a minute, you know?" Howard explained. "Like Colin Farrell told me when I was in Ireland. He said, 'Why don't you just not bathe for a month and smell yourself and see who you are.' I don't know about the not bathing, but I do want to know who the hell I am."

"I've been being so many people for so many years and it's time for me just to be Terry for a little bit," he added.

Howard expressed similar sentiments when ET's Kevin Frazier and guest co-host Sharon Osbourne caught up with him at the 2019 Emmy Awards, calling his decision "a good thing," adding, "I've done my time."

"I’ve been playing pretend for forever. It's no need to play pretend anymore," he said. "... I'm running away as quickly as possible to get to where I'm supposed to be, you know?"


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