8:30am PT by Kate Stanhope
'Empire' Star Reveals Why He Was Reluctant to Do Prince Tribute Episode (Exclusive Video)
Empire is ready to party like it's 1999.
Wednesday's episode of the hip-hop drama will pay tribute to his royal purpleness, i.e., Prince, when the Lyon family throws Hakeem's daughter Bella a Prince-themed birthday party.
And The Hollywood Reporter has an exclusive video going behind the scenes at the elaborate homage.
Since this is an Empire party, the Lyons spare no expense for the lavish fest, including colorful outfits, wigs, purple lighting in addition to tunes from the "Purple Rain" singer's famed discography.
"If I'm being honest, I ain't really wanna do it," Jussie Smollett says in the video. "I thought to myself, 'Is it something he would have wanted?'"
Thankfully, Smollett was rest assured by the executive producer and the episode's director Sanaa Hamri that the late singer, who died in April 2016, would have approved.
After all, Hamri would know since she served as Prince's creative director for years. In August, Hamri even revealed she and Prince had been working together on a TV show prior to his death. "He always wanted to do TV, so when I started to go to TV from film and music videos, this was the opportunity for me to learn the ins and outs of television," she said.
That love of TV also extended to Empire, which he watched "religiously" according to Hamri. As she says while shooting the Prince-themed episode, "I have no doubt he would like it."
Check out the exclusive behind-the-scenes video below.
Empire airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on Fox.