Taraji P. Henson & James Corden Audition For 'Empire' & She Wins The Day Without Even Trying — VIDEO
If you've been tearfully asking yourself how you're going to get through Empire's mid-season break with no new episodes, I have some good news for you: Taraji P. Henson and James Corden auditioned for Cooke Lyon from Empire. I know, I know. I was shocked, too. However, I was less shocked when I watched this video and saw Henson completely read Corden during the audition. If you aren't familiar with the lingo, "reading" someone means completely shutting someone down, eviscerating them with your words... aka something Henson's character Cookie Lyon does six times before breakfast. And nobody knows that better than The Late Late Show's James Corden, who was on the receiving end of all that delightfully-barbed vitriol on the Dec. 8 episode.
The idea behind the clip that the two filmed was that Henson had to fight off some pretty impressive contenders to nab the role of Empire's matriarch, and one of them was actually Corden himself in a wig, a dress, and an attitude. He sits down next to Henson and starts trying to get in her head by insulting her, and then saying the lines are in the script, so he's just getting prepared, and for a second you think he's gonna get away with it. You think the bit is that a dude in a dress gets to talk to Cookie like that and not get hurt, But NOPE.
Henson turns it around so fast, and her voice gets all low, and she is actually genuinely pulling things out of James Corden's life to make him feel bad — like not just about his raggedy wig and his fake fur, but his performance in Into the Woods. Which nobody watched because he isn't Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, or a tree. Whoaaaaa! Ice cold. And her voice never breaks above this intense whisper, and she's smiling the whole time, because all she has to do is turn her full attention on you and you. can't. handle it. Take a look at this magic.
Oh my god, so much of this is so perfect that I can barely choose a favorite line, but I think it has to be, "You fake, dumb, Winnie the Pooh man." I have no idea what that even means, but I'm nodding along like "DAMN GIRL," because it's true, and it's mean, and Taraji P. Henson is a razor-edged goddess among us. Sleep with one eye open, James Corden, because the rest of Empire Season 2 doesn't come back until Mar. 30, 2016, and Henson will have plenty of time between then and now to make sure you stay in your mother-effing lane.