James Corden loves watching Taraji P. Henson play Cookie Lyon on Empire, but noted on Tuesday’s episode of The Late Late Show that “she actually had to fight off some really tough competition to get that role.”
He then aired a clip of Henson waiting to audition for the Fox drama’s fierce wordsmith — a role that Corden (in a wig, heels and fur coat) also read.
Corden first hoped to loudly intimidate Henson in the waiting room. “You a bit scared of a little competition?” he asked her. “Coming in here half-ass, your dollar store jeans and discount hoops? Fake ass shoes, cheap Chanel belt? No, it’s not in the script, it’s real life, bitch and we is living it!”
But then, Henson displayed her seasoned ability to put others in their place. “I was in Hustle and Flow, okay, boo boo kitty? And it’s hard out here for an actress. I raised Benjamin Button, bitch! Where is your Oscar nomination?” she said. “You think anybody saw you in Into the Woods? All anybody ever saw was Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp and the trees. Were you a tree? Huh? Was that you?!”
“You fake, dumb, Winnie the Pooh man,” she continued effortlessly. “The streets weren’t made for everybody; that’s why they made sidewalks, so moss like you can grow. Stay in your lane.”
Nevertheless, Corden changed his strategy to read for the role of Hakeem and compete with Bryshere Y. Gray.