Did ‘Empire’ Stars Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard Ever Date in Real Life?

Empire actors Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard were first introduced together as the music power couple we never knew we needed in the cult classic, Hustle and Flow.

The two have since starred in several movies together before landing the roles of Cookie and Lucious Lyon, and their on-screen chemistry is undeniable. Did Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard ever date in real life?

Taraji P Henson Terrence Howard
Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard | FOX Image Collection

Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard have worked together several times

Even though Howard made his film debut in 1993 and Henson made hers five years later, the two didn’t work together until the cult classic Hustle and Flow drama, which premiered on July 22, 2005.

Howard starred as the disgruntled pimp and drug dealer, DJay, who wants to begin making music with Henson’s character, a pregnant prostitute named Shug, his love interest who sings the hooks.

They appeared in another movie together, the late John Singleton’s Four Brothers, which premiered only a month later, and the straight-to-DVD film, Animal, which was released on October 4, 2005.

They also starred in action-drama Term Life together in 2016; however, the movie generated mostly negative reviews. Currently in its sixth and final season, the two star opposite each other as Lucious and Cookie Lyon on Fox’s Empire.

While the Hustle and Flow stars again convincingly act as love interests, Empire is the last time viewers can see their on-screen connection because Howard has announced he is retiring from acting.

Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard’s partners

In 1994, Henson gave birth to her son, Marcell Johnson, as a senior in college. Her high school sweetheart and the father of her child, William Lamar Johnson, was killed in a car accident in 2003.

She has since been romantically linked to a few celebrities, including singer Tyrese Gibson, actor Hill Harper, rapper Common, basketball player Lamar Odom, rapper Drake, and actor Michael Ealy. Henson began dating former NFL star Kelvin Hayden in 2016 and the couple is currently happily engaged.

Howard married his first wife, Lori McCommas, in 1989, and they welcomed three children together, Aubrey, Heaven, and Hunter. They officially divorced in 2007, and he married Michelle Ghent three years later.

The couple divorced in 2013, and later that year, Howard wed his third wife, Mira Pak. They have two children together, Qirin Love and Hero. Although the couple separated in 2015, Howard proposed to her in December 2018, and they seem to be still engaged.

Did Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard ever date in real life?

In a 2015 interview, Henson said when she received the script for Cookie, she asked that Howard play Lucious because they “have a deep love that can’t be explained.”

However, the couple never attempted a romantic relationship, and Howard said it’s because he realized Henson didn’t have romantic feelings for him while they filmed Hustle and Flow.

He explained the two are more like “father and daughter, mother and son, brother and sister” as opposed to lovers. Even though the Empire actors have amazing on-screen chemistry, it’s a testament to their incredible acting skills because there’s never been, and probably never will be, a romantic relationship between the two.