Empire star Gabourey Sidibe opens up about directing that 'gigantic' episode
As Sidibe tells EW, “Hot Blood, Hot Thoughts, Hot Deeds” was a “gigantic one,” with Empire setting out on their redemption tour, Kai and Jamal reuniting, Cookie thinking she caught Lucious cheating on her with Treasure, Lucious then finding out about Andre’s cancer diagnosis, and the Lyon patriarch taking all his anger out on Treasure’s manager and beating him to death.
“I thought they were going to give me some, like, holdover episode where not a lot of things happen,” jokes Sidibe, who stars on Empire as Becky. “It would be kind of lame, but instead they gave me this gigantic episode where everybody gets laid and Lucious kills someone. [Laughs] I was like, ‘Wow, this is a lot to do, guys. You must really believe I can pull it off.’”
For the 35-year-old actress, who had previously directed the 2016 short The Tale of Four, she was most nervous to take on the many musical performances featured in the episode. “I know I can direct a story, but I didn’t know if I could direct a musical story yet,” she admits. “I went back through all the other performances and thought about what I haven’t seen and what really I want to see.” She even pulled from past dance numbers she’d long been obsessed with, specifically Spike Lee’s School Daze for Tiana and Treasure’s cheerleader face-off.
And when it came to Jamal’s overwhelmed moment on stage, Sidibe was excited to do something they hadn’t done before. “We’ve never had him be this emotional, break down to the point where he can’t go on,” she says. “He really is heartbroken. To have Wynter come out and take over the song, it’s such a beautiful element of friendship and heartbreak and what it means to be this raw and emotional in front of an audience.”
Speaking of heartbreak, the episode ends with a betrayed feeling Cookie seeking solace in the arms of Damon Cross, and Sidibe says to expect a “widened gap” between the Empire king and queen. “We see the fallout between them in their relationship and what the division is and how serious it might be,” she teases of Cookie and Lucious in the season’s final five episodes.
That’s not the only relationship that needs some work, as Sidibe reveals that Becky will begin to consider distancing herself from the Lyons. “I think Becky was happier not working for the Lyons.… They’ve actually done very little for her,” she says. “At the end of the season, she gets very tired of it. She’s realizing that she’s saved the day so much but with very little reward, so I think she’s going to start thinking what her next step is.”
Empire airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.