Empire will begin its fourth season this fall with less guest stars, a refocus on the Lyon family and an homage to Prince, producers revealed Tuesday at TCA.
With Lucious (Terrence Howard) caught in an explosion set up by his own family in the Season 3 finale, and having lost all memory of his family, executive producers Lee Daniels, Ilene Chaiken, and Sanaa Hamri told TV critics that the new season will see a return to the core of the show, the Lyon family and dynasty, reports Variety.
“When we start to focus too much on guest stars we lose who it is that the fans want to watch,” Daniels says, noting he pays attention to what the audience of the show is saying about the show. “They’re obsessed with the Lyons. They’re obsessed with family. They’re obsessed with the story of Lucious and Cookie and Jamal and Andre and Hakeem.”
A Season 3 guest star holdover, Demi Moore, will continue on as an important part of the new episodes, as her character helps nurse Lucious back to health.
“Given that Lucious has always had issues with his mother and is now having issues with his memory, the big question is going to be, ‘What’s the relationship between the two of them?’” Chaiken says of a key season four mystery. “He’s the only one who knows that she killed Tariq. Is he going to remember? Is he going to say anything?”
Speaking on the addition of Forest Whitaker this season as Uncle Eddie, a music icon who mentored Lucious in his early days (and yes, he will be singing), Terrence Howard feels that the Oscar winner will raise the stakes and standards of the show.
“Forest has been a mentor to me in my own personal life,” Howard says. “The role I played in ‘Crash’ was originally Forest’s role, and Forest had stepped out to do his directorial debut and recommended me for that character. So for Forest to play a mentor for Lucious [is extra specia]. We haven’t seen a lot of Lucious’ past collaborators.”
Cast member Jussie Smollett told reporters that Prince music will be used in episode four of the new season, marking a departure from most episodes that feature music original to the show.
“I might have to press out this curl, have to give you a real flip for a moment, but it’ll be fun,” Smollett said, adding that the episode is the brainchild of executive producer Hamri, who directed several of Prince’s music videos, including 2004’s “Musicology.”
Empire” returns to Fox on September 27 at 8 p.m.