Terrence Howard addressed his history of legal issues involving allegations of assault against several women and whether Fox considered them before casting him on “Empire.”
“A lot of things that I got involved with in younger days, in the earlier days was the product of my environment,” he responded when TheWrap asked him to address the topic during Saturday’s Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena.
He continued, “[It was] the product of not knowing how to deal with frustration, the product of not knowing who Terrence Howard is. Now I’m married with a new wife, with a brand new baby. I’ve grown so much from anything that’s happened in the past.”
Howard’s record of alleged physical assaults against women dates back to 2000 when he was accused of grabbing a flight attendant’s wrist and pushing her during a flight. The latest allegation occurred in 2013 when Howard’s ex-wife alleged that he “knocked her down” and kicked her in the head.
The actor went on to address whether those things were factor as he was being cast on “Empire.”
“This present moment, to have a show that’s being that’s being held as a beautiful breakthrough piece, having a wonderful opportunity to have this cast, I don’t think they took any of that stuff into consideration,” he said. “I think they looked at the talent and the power of right now and this moment and how people have grown and where they’re going to, and I embrace that, and I’m so thankful to them for doing that.”
Show co-creator Lee Daniels then interjected, “And we are, Terrence.”
Howard was also asked by a second reporter about the concern among TV critics that the entertainment business is giving a pass to men with histories of assault against women, including Bill Cosby and Woody Allen.
“The only person that can really make the judgment, the final judgment is the judge in the court or God at the end of the day,” Howard responded. “You leave it to them. So once you look at what the judges have said, there’s been no criminal charges ever filed against that person or anything like that. So you have to go by what the judge is saying. If it’s something valid, it’s something valid. If it’s not, it’s not, but you’ve got to give people a chance to grow from anything that happens… We’ve got to give people a chance to show who they are.”
Earlier in the day, Fox Television Group co-chairmen and CEO Dana Walden was asked if the company had known about Howard’s history and if that was taken into account while casting “Empire.”
“Our experience with Terrence has been excellent,” Walden responded. “We cast Terrence, because our executive producers, Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, and Brian Grazer, felt that he was the best actor for that particular role. Our experience with him at that point was being fans of the films he’s done in the past and it seemed like a little bit of a no brainer. So with Terrence, we really didn’t become aware of any of the situation you’re talking about until December. It wasn’t part of the conversation when we cast him.”