We already thought that Lee Daniels and Danny Strong were bonkers for adding so many new characters to Season 2 of Empire, and that was when we assumed that most of these characters would be relatively normal people. But Empire’s creative team had something completely different in mind for guest star Chris Rock, in that they fully intended for him to not only be a ruthless prisoner, but a cannibal as well. Yes, you heard that right. Chris Rock as a cannibal. And it would have happened to, if it wasn’t for those meddling Fox execs and their reshoots.
In Season 1, Empire did a lot of wild and batshit things, although most of it could be filed under “highly dramatic soap opera.” Spinning a character as a cannibal is something else entirely, but that’s what Daniels wanted Rock’s character to be seen as in the first episode of Season 2. When the idea was initially brought up, Fox’s higher-ups shot the idea down, but Daniels would not be swayed. As the director of the season premiere, he kept the cannibal characteristics intact and filmed one particularly gruesome scene where Rock is seen inside the prison with a plate of human body parts in front of him. That sounds amazing.
Daniels’ bravado didn’t make Fox execs any more understanding, though, and according to THR, they forced him to reshoot the scene. Rock ended up agreeing to return to the show’s Chicago set this summer to re-film certain scenes, and apparently the entire cannibal subplot has been all but eradicated, although it’s possible that viewers can pick up clues once they actually know what was originally planned.
I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for him wiping blood off of his mouth, and I’ll be listening for any cannibalistic turns of phrase. Perhaps the episode will make it look like he’s gay by having him leer at other prisoners, but he’s actually just wondering what they’d taste like with some fava beans and toilet wine. If NBC can take Hannibal to some of the darkest places on TV, you’d think that Fox could allow Empire to get weird with it.
Rock definitely isn’t the only guest star appearing in Season 2, although he’s presumably the only people-eater. His character and Lucious Lyon will be interacting with Ludacris in prison, and we’ve also got Marisa Tomei, Lenny Kravitz, Alicia Keys, Pitbull, Mariah Carey, Rosie O’Donnell and many more. The premiere episode will even feature cameos from CNN’s Don Lemon and Al Sharpton.
Regardless of whether or not any comedians will be seen gnawing on human flesh, Empire Season 2 will definitely premiere on Wednesday, September 23. If you haven’t caught up with Season 1 yet, do so now on Hulu.