Taraji P. Henson explains why she joined 'Empire' after 'Person of Interest' exit

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taraji-p-henson-fox-empire-gi.jpgThe death of Taraji P. Henson's character Carter in Season 3 of "Person of Interest" was one of the most shocking moves on primetime television in the 2013-14 season. At the time, Henson explained her exit from the show by saying she wanted to focus on her film career. That's why fans were a bit shocked when it was announced several months later that she would be starring in FOX's new midseason series "Empire."

Henson attended FOX's summer 2014 TV press tour party on July 20 to promote "Empire," a family drama set in the world of a music mogul's hip-hop empire. She explained to Zap2it that the names involved in that project were a big part of what drew her back to TV so soon after she left it.

"When you get names like Danny Strong and Lee Daniels, that's hard to turn down. Then I read the script, and the character Cookie just jumps off the page," Henson explains. "She's so complicated and she's so twisted and beautiful and ugly and so many things. Characters like this, they don't come often. So I was like, carpe diem. Seize the moment!"

Though "Empire" airs on FOX, it is one of many series following the cable format of shorter seasons. Henson says the 13-episode season was a big reason why she said "yes" to the show.

"I work six months and then I have six months to do other things. I like that schedule a lot -- and it's like the best of both worlds. You have the cable schedule, but you have the primetime network television paycheck," she says with a laugh. "On cable, there are really no censors. You can really push the envelope. You can say what the character really wants to say. I think that's what draws a lot of actors' attention to cable because it doesn't have to be so neatly tied up."

Henson hasn't kept up with "Person of Interest" since Carter's death, admitting that she doesn't watch much TV and, when she does, it's usually "Everybody Loves Raymond" or "The Cosby Show" reruns. She does say that she still feels a little bad that Carter died in the same episode where Reese admitted he had feelings for her

"I mean, what a way to jerk around the audience, right?" Henson says. "So sorry. Just ripped everybody's heart out."

"Person of Interest" Season 4 returns on Sept. 23 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CBS, while "Empire" will premiere in the midseason on FOX.
Photo/Video credit: Getty Images