She went toe-to-toe with Navy SEALs in 1997’s G.I. Jane and battled Charlie’s Angels in 2003’s Full Throttle. But now Demi Moore is facing her most daunting opposition yet: Empire‘s Lyon clan. Moore plays Claudia, a nurse working with Lucious (Terrence Howard) to regain his memory after the explosive events of last season’s finale. But can Claudia be trusted? EW talked to Moore, who will appear in a multi-episode arc, about whether she’s a villain and if we’ll see her get musical on the Fox hit, which premieres Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What made you want to be part of this show? Were you an Empire fan?
DEMI MOORE: I was a dedicated watcher of the first season and then had gotten a little behind. They had come to me early on [to do the series]. For a variety of reasons, it wasn’t the right time personally, schedule-wise. Then, of course, when my daughter [Rumer Willis, who plays Amy Winehouse-inspired singer Tory Ash and was promoted to series regular this week] came on the show, they reached out to me, and I made sure it was something she was okay with. I just had this overwhelming intuitive feeling that I needed to say yes! I really loved the idea of being able to share something with Rumer.
That must be nice to at least be on the same project.
Yeah, and be staying together and really have this time. It’s funny — I had run into [co-creator] Lee Daniels maybe two months before she got cast. It was actually Jussie [Smollett] who said she’s the one we have to get after seeing her sing live on some morning radio show. But I said to Lee, “You know my kid is the perfect fit for the show.”
Tell me about this character, Claudia. She seems a little loony.
She’s evolving and unfolding as we speak. [Laughs] The initial idea was, she had a little unorthodox approach [to rehabilitation]. In the course of her doing her job to help bring him back, it becomes a little bit of: Which version of Lucious is she more attached to bringing back? She sees the real innocent, untainted part of him — the real soul of who he is. So I’m rehabilitating him from the point of view of his most pure self. And his most pure self isn’t necessarily who the rest of them have come to know and love.
And she creates a very different kind of triangle on the show between herself, Lucious, and Cookie [Taraji P. Henson].
Exactly. I think, in a way, this is Empire‘s thriller moment. It’s much more psychological, and it’s a little more complex. So in that way, it makes it more dangerous because I’m not like a villain who operates out of greed or power.
So it looks like you and Cookie battle a bit. You don’t get along?
I think that there’s always a bit of a power struggle with Cookie and anybody who is coming in and is exercising power. Because I am there hired by her for him, it’s difficult for her to completely come up against me, because she needs me to do what I do best to bring him back. Because in the beginning, she doesn’t have him, none of them do. He’s in recovery.
Obviously, Empire is a musical. Is there any way that Claudia will sing or dance?
At this point, no. I think we will be leaving the singing and dancing to others. It’s not like Nurse Claudia has a hidden dream of singing Dreamgirls.
Do you know how many episodes you’re doing?
Originally, I said I could do six, and then they came back and asked if I could do two more, so I’m doing eight. It’s getting more and more fun. The hope is where it goes will be intriguing and keep people on the edge of their seats all the way to the end of the mid-season break.
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