‘Empire’ Star Taraji P. Henson Auditioned For ‘Scandal’ — And Didn’t Get The Part

Empire actress Taraji P. Henson made a confession to Deadpool actor Ryan Reynolds in Variety‘s “Actors on Actors” series: Henson auditioned for the iconic role of Olivia Pope on ABC’s hit show Scandal. Kerry Washington ultimately won the role and has truly come to define the character — and Henson agrees, according to Variety.

“I auditioned for Shonda Rhimes for Scandal,” she told Reynolds. “Thank God Kerry got it. It was her job.” But imagine a world where Henson played Olivia Pope — and faced off with Mellie, President Fitz, and B1613. Instead, Henson won the role of Cookie Lyon years later — and it’s such an iconic part that she gets recognized everywhere.

Taraji P. Henson Scandal Olivia Pope
Taraji P. Henson Scandal Olivia Pope

“Because you’re walking down the street, and there’s like, “Hey, Cookie!” she says. “And maybe I didn’t want the world to see how I look today.”

Reynolds responds, “That’s the price of an iconic character that you play.”

Read the rest of the exchange below and watch the video below.

Henson: See, it was fine until Cookie came. I was OK under the radar. I was good. I could go to Target.
Reynolds: But Cookie’s viral.
Henson: Never saw that coming. And then I go from this normal life 
to … now I have to find 
a house on a private, gated road. I love to people-watch. I love to go to the park. But I can’t — everybody’s watching me. I’ve tried wigs, I’ve tried shades. I’ve tried it all.
Reynolds: That’s a good problem to have, when you’ve created a character that has so permeated the zeitgeist and everybody loves them.

Check out the full interview when the “Actors on Actors” series debuts on Jan. 3 on PBS SoCal.