‘Empire’ Star Terrence Howard Says It’s Time to Get Real About the N-Word on TV

“We need to take the sutures, open up the problem and reach in and grab it,” the actor says

“Empire” star Terrence Howard has strong opinions about the use of the N-word on their hit Fox TV show.

Though the actor differs from costar Taraji P. Henson, who said earlier today she’s against the use of the word, Howard thinks it’s time to get real. The Oscar nominee wants to drop the stigma surrounding the word which he believes would make the Lee Daniels hip-hop drama feel more authentic.

During an interview Monday with hosts Kit Hoover and Billy Bush of “Access Hollywood Live,” Howard got deep with his opinions about the controversial word.

Here’s the transcript from the interview:

Kit Hoover: “What I love though is you wanna push it even further in season two. You said we should use the n* word, we gotta be authentic, we should go even further with this, how far are we gonna go?”

Terrence Howard:  “Well, I believe if we’re gonna really tackle racism, if we’re gonna tackle bigotry, if we’re gonna tackle homophobia, we need to attack it dead on you don’t just sit up, you know let’s give a little Aspirin right here, no we need to take the sutures, open up the problem and reach in and grab it. And since n**** is used in almost every conversation in most black neighborhoods, why is it that we don’t hear it on TV anymore? Are white people afraid of it? Did they create the word? But if this is something that we use on a daily basis, then let’s address what it really means.”

Billy Bush: “In African American culture, is the culture more conservative would you say? You know, towards homophobia and more and you know races in the other way or anything like that.”

Terrence Howard: “Martin Luther King said that we should be judged on the content of our character and not by the color of our skin but we’ve reverted back into judging each other by the color of our skin and making excuses because things have happened in our lives, so we need to address it straight up and down and as long as we keep calling each other n**** along the way, we’re gonna treat each other like that.”

Kit Hoover: “What does the n* word mean to you though?”

Terrence Howard: “Oh, it could mean love, sometimes it’s a noun, sometimes it’s a verb, sometimes it’s an adjective, it’s all, there’s a spirit attached to it, you know. My dad uses it, my brothers use it, I use it, I’m sitting here, I’m hoping maybe I won’t use it with my son but I don’t know if I’ll be honest if I didn’t use it with my son, you know my friends use it, I call my white friends ‘what’s up my n****?’, you know that’s, it has taken on this term to us but it’s blown out of proportion outside the world, so I don’t know.”

Billy Bush: “I think the great Cornel West, we were watching something Cornel West was saying that one day, he says that word cannot be used until every bit of malicious intent is drained from it. Which I thought was interesting… then he says its common property.”

Kit Hoover: “Not from us.”

Terrence Howard:  “Yeah well everybody, when I use it, no but some of my white friends that I’ve grown up with that I talk to on a daily basis, when they use it you know it’s, it doesn’t have any mal-intent associated with it, it’s just a noun now, it’s an adjective, it’s an adverb you know. It describes a moment, it describes a feeling, it no longer describes a state of a race or a human being.”

Billy Bush: “How does Lee Daniels feel about it? Is he with you or is he sort of, he’s got a tough line to walk here.”

Terrence Howard: “Yeah, Lee, I don’t know. I mean when me and him talk to each other we use it on a daily basis, our texts, this is what we use. Whether Lee gets mad about this or anybody gets mad, I’m just being honest. The word is used, so if one person can use it then everybody should use it, but if white people use it, you gotta remember to take the “er” off of it and if somebody got a problem about how I feel about it then kiss my monkey a**”

Watch Howard’s interview with Access Hollywood here.

The two-hour season finale of “Empire” airs Wednesday at 8 p.m. on Fox.