On Empire, Taraji P. Henson does not play Cookie Lyon so much as Cookie Lyon possesses Taraji P. Henson.
That’s what the actress told Ellen DeGeneres, anyway, for her Tuesday appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. As she revealed, many of Cookie’s outbursts are not scripted. “I can’t control it. I really have to be available to let her use me. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s literally like a possession. That character is using my vessel as its voice.”
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So, it was only fitting that she and DeGeneres play a game called “What Would Cookie Say?”, which required that Henson channel the Lyon matriarch and let loose on Kanye West (“Run up on the stage and Cookie will chin-check you, Kanye”), Jennifer Lopez (“Girl, you is a freak but I know how to market that”), and even President Barack Obama (“Hee-eeyyy, my man in charge!”). Unfortunately, you’ll have to tune in to see what she says about Gary Busey, as pictured above.
Finally, the secret to grabbing hold of her inner Cookie? Shouting “LUCIOUS!”