Before Taraji P. Henson was Cookie on Fox’s Empire, she wanted to be Precious—but Lee Daniels wasn’t having it.
Henson told W Magazine that she auditioned for Daniels’ 2009 film and wanted to play the title role even though Daniels had a different character in mind. “Lee wanted me for the thin, pretty teacher in Precious,” she said. “And I was like, ‘Well, I want to play Precious because that’s the role in this piece.’ Lee thought I was nuts.”
The role ended up going to Gabourey Sidibe despite Henson’s lobbying. “I was like, ‘Look, they turned Charlize Theron into a monster! I could be this girl!’” she said. “When I think about that now, it was such a Cookie move.”
That wasn’t the end of her relationship with Daniels, of course: He went on to cast her in his smash hit Empire, which premiered in January. Head over to W to read her full interview with the magazine.