Jussie Smollett Discusses His Character’s New Struggles on ‘Empire’ Season Two

Jimmy Fallon Spoofs 'Empire'
This Empire parody is all you need to survive the day...

One of the hottest shows on television is back for its second season.

The Emmy-nominated smash hit Empire returned to FOX on Sept. 23, and already fans can’t stop talking about all the drama that unfolds on this binge-worthy show.

Luckily, Jussie Smollett stopped by to give The Hollywood Reporter an in-depth look at his character, Jamal, and everything he’s been going through this season.

“Last season was about him figuring out who he should be, and this season is about him becoming who he’s going to be,” Smollett said about Jamal, who, since gaining his father Lucious’s love and acceptance, now has to tackle everything that goes along with becoming the head of Empire. “I don’t think that Jamal was entirely ready to be head of Empire,” Smollett said. “The fact of the matter is that if you look at season one, it started to become that Empire represented all the sons. It wasn’t about a position, it was a position in your father’s eyes, and that’s what Empire represents. So they weren’t fighting even for the company, they were fighting for their father’s favoritism and approval and love.”

But what about his relationship with the ever-sassy Cookie (played by Taraji P. Henson)? Smollett goes on to say they’re going through a bit of a rough patch.

“This is a very different type of dynamic. This whole power struggle between the family, is not the norm. They’re all changing, and they’re all becoming better and worse people. What we see is that this is a family. This is also a company. That’s why it’s called Empire, and it’s very complicated, but it makes for great television.”

And you better believe THR was going to ask the 32-year-old actor about that infamous slap scene in the season’s premiere episode that had us all staring at the screen with our jaws on the floor. Believe it or not, she actually slapped him. As hard as she could. “I didn’t want it to be a stunt. [Taraji] said ‘Yeah, I’m not going to slap you hard,’ and I said, ‘No, I want you to slap me as hard as you can.’ ‘Well not as hard as I can.’ ‘No, Taraji, as hard as you can.’ And then she said, ‘Look, I’m from DC, don’t play with me,’ and when she did it, she literally did it as hard as she could,” Smollett said.

Catch Empire every Wed. night at 9 p.m. ET on FOX.