23 Photos Of The 'Empire' Cast Where The Actors Look Nothing Like The Characters You Know & Love

Even though it's only aired one season, the characters on Empire already have a beloved place in fans' hearts. As such, we just can't help picturing the actors a certain way. It's at a point where it would be weird to see Taraji P. Henson playing a character who isn't Cookie, and confusing to see Lucious Lyon's real life counterpart Terrence Howard with a totally different hairstyle and wardrobe.

But these actors have not been playing these parts forever and, aside from that, they are not in character 24/7. There have been plenty of times that our favorite Empire actors have been unrecognizable off-screen. Check out these 23 photos to see what I'm talking about.

Ring Pop Lovin'

I wouldn’t even know this was Taraji P. Henson if I didn’t unearth the photo myself. Nothing about this reminds me of the Cookie Lyon we all know and love.

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Holy Afro

This is not a look I would expect to see on Lucious Lyon. His hair and wardrobe is pretty prim and proper. This is a little to free spirited for the Empire character.


Becky's Braids

I had no idea Gabourey Sidibe ever rocked braids. Nevertheless, I have to say that she looks adorable with this hairstyle.

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Boo Boo Kitty Goes Casual

I just cannot picture Grace Gealey out of her Anika mode. It’s so strange for me to see the actress looking casual in this hat. Boo Boo Kitty would never dress so casually, let alone in public.

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Rhonda, Is That You?

I feel like Rhonda is always looking super fierce and in real life Kaitlin Doubleday looks so sweet and innocent with her choppy bangs.

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Facial Hair On Point

I feel like Jussie Smollett hasn’t rocked the facial hair on Empire because it would age him a little bit. But in real life, I’m feeling this look on the actor.

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White Party

Howard looks like he’s ready for a white party in the Hamptons or a day at the beach. His alter ego Lucious Lyon is usually dressed to the nines, so this extremely casual look is definitely throwing me off.

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Short Hair, Don't Care

Big hair and fierceness are a big part of Cookie Lyon’s essence. Henson looks super hot with the short hairdo, but I just couldn’t picture Cookie with this style.


Rhonda & Justin Long

Again, Rhonda looks so sweet! And she’s with Justin Long…?

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Bow Hard Or Go Home

Sidibe looks a few years younger with her innocent bow headband. I just cannot picture Becky wearing this around the Empire office.


Go Big Or Go Home

Yes, that is Taraji P. Henson. I had to do a double take, too. She looks like a totally different person with her giant afro in I Can Do Bad All By Myself

Image: Lionsgate

Time Traveling

Terrence Howard looks so different with these ’70s style sunglasses. Did he travel back in time or something?

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Those Highlights!

My girl Taraji looks completely different with all of these curls and blonde highlights.

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Hat Game Strong

Terrence Howard has so many random hairstyles that I’m so thrown off when I can't even see his hair. He does not look like the dapper, suave gentleman that we know and love when he’s wearing this hat.

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If I wasn’t told that this photo was of Kaitlin Doubleday, I would have never guessed. She looks so young and fresh faced. Plus, those straight across bangs!

Image: Lionsgate

Headband Game Strong

Again with the headbands! Becky would never!

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Bad Hair Day?

I feel like Lucious would never wear a hat like this in public. There’s just nothing fierce about it.


Pretty In Pink

I’m getting a high school dance sort of vibe from Cookie here.


Down With The Updo

I’ve never seen Gabourey Sidibe with her hair up. It’s nice to see more of that face though. The girl looks good.

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Slicked Back Style

Terrence Howard looks totally different with his hair slicked back. And you know we’re all thinking of the same Mean Girls reference right now: “His hair is so sexy pushed back.”


Old Timey Taraji

Henson definitely took on a different style when she was in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Image: Paramount Pictures

Hello Facial Hair

Long hair AND a goatee?!

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Where's His Hair?

I’ve seen a lot of Terrence Howard hairstyles, but this is probably the most shocking because his hair is pretty much gone here.

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