Taraji P. Henson won’t play Cookie on TV series Empire for much longer because she finds her character emotionally draining.
The Hidden Figures actress has starred as Cookie Lyon on the musical drama series since 2015 and it has already been picked up for a fourth season, which is likely to air between autumn 2017 and spring 2018.
However, Taraji isn’t sure how long she can continue playing the character because playing Cookie takes its toll on her.
“I could not do this forever. No. Cookie wears me out!” she told Variety. “She is emotionally all over the place. Those writers, they just keep pushing my emotions with every episode. By the 18th episode (of each season), I’m dead. I got to get far away. I don’t wear animal print. I cut my hair into a bob. I don’t wear a weave because I’ve got to get as far away from Cookie as possible.”
The 46-year-old also knows her passion for the role will eventually wear off and she wants to go out on a high, which is something she learned from the cast of TV show Sex and the City.
“You’ve got to know when to go out. You don’t want to overstay your welcome,” she explained. “You want to be remembered as the number one show on network… I’m going to lose my passion, I know me. And Cookie is enough. I can’t do that for so long.”
The Hustle and Flow star works in both TV and film and admitted she prefers film because TV feels more corporate and there are more voices involved.
“Sometimes, my characters feel schizo (schizophrenic) on television because there are so many opinions and so much input,” she said. “That’s why I like film a little better. One writer, one director, one (studio) head. Not all those voices.”
She is sure she will eventually direct an episode of the show but she hasn’t felt the urge to yet because the show is challenging, because of its musical numbers, and she isn’t sure if she would be able to act and direct at the same time.