“Empire” is at a new time on Wednesdays, on FOX.
This season Academy Award- and Golden Globe-winning actor, director and producer Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland, Arrival, Lee Daniels’ The Butler) will guest-star in a multi-episode arc on Empire, beginning this fall on FOX. Whitaker will play “Uncle Eddie,” a charismatic music icon and bonafide hitmaker, who gave an unknown Lucious (Terrence Howard) his first radio airplay. Decades later, Eddie steps up for Lucious at a critical moment during his rehabilitation, and a grateful Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) invites him to produce a song in celebration of Empire Entertainment’s 20th anniversary.
Back from last season is Rumer Willis who is now a full-time cast member joining her this season will be her mother Demi Moore who will also have a multi-episode arc on Empire. We caught up with the mother-daughter duo to talk life lessons and of course, the new season.
The Knockturnal: What has it been like to be on set with your mom? Are you guys working together or separate?
Rumer Willis: So we actually don’t have any scenes together. We’ll be in the same scene but won’t ever interact.
Demi Moore: I think they then carefully kept us not in the same scenes so there’s no confusion. But for me, I want to do it so I have time to be with her and hang out. I’m staying in the small bedroom of her apartment.
The Knockturnal: I love that. Switching roles!
Demi Moore: I look in and say “oh, she got a king sized bed”. I want a king-sized bed.
The Knockturnal: The material of Empire is known to be a little racy and edgy. Has the script ever intimidated you guys? I’m sure they’d intimidate me if I were to get ‘them.
Rumer Willis: I would say no, I mean for me this role has actually been quite tame comparatively to other things people have shown me, but I do like that they aren’t afraid to not just skirt over some of the issues. I think it was really great even to be able to focus on showing people going to rehab and not just go “oh well, they’re an addict, let’s not over show that part, but let’s just say that they are.” I think it’s interesting to be able to show the deeper and more vulnerable and harder parts of the music industry and all that comes with the kind of power struggle of the family.
The Knockturnal: Usually people always say what advice or what have you learned from your mom, but in this instance, what have you learned from Rumer?
Demi Moore: You know, there is an interesting thing that you always hope that your kids will be better than you are and what I admire that I see with all of my children is a much greater courage to try and to do things that they don’t necessarily know how to do or that didn’t necessarily come naturally. And you know there’s something in that kind of bravery that’s like “why not?” And not that I haven’t had my fair share of doing things that were risky or courageous, but I do find that there is an ease. I learned a lot about that.
The Knockturnal: Miss Moore, you always said that you are your worst critic, is that still true?
Demi Moore: I think it is true for me. The difference more and more as I get older and I continue to do work on myself is that it has less of an effect or control and it’s not something you try to ever get rid of because I don’t think you can but you can transform it in a way that is not negatively affecting you.
The Knockturnal: As an artist what are you looking for?
Demi Moore: What am I looking for? Boy, that is a big question! You know one of the nice things? Because we always want to be challenged because otherwise if we stop growing then in a way we die. Not literally but we do, if we don’t try to keep pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone and … what am I looking for? I’m looking to experience life with ease and grace. That’s really what I’m looking for.That manifests in different ways, you know, even when this came along to do Empire they had actually come to me before and it didn’t seem like the right time. Then when she got on the show and they came back there was something that I knew just to say yes, like don’t overthink it, I don’t even know why and I think that’s one of the things that I feel like how I’ve evolved is that I’m trusting a little bit more just to go and be in the flow.
The Knockturnal: We hear on the show that you go head to head with Miss Taraji P. Henson!
Demi Moore: She’s a blushing flower!
The Knockturnal: Right! So what is that like on-set when you had to get ready for those moments?
Demi Moore: Well, you know it’s interesting because I, you know, my character is very different than what they’ve had before and it’s less of an obvious head-to-head. Where it’s I think I have a character that has been given control and so how I’m asking for the family to behave with Lucius, or who I prefer to refer only to as Dwight. So, I definitely have those kind of like the push and pull of battle, I mean I don’t think Cookie’s known for wanting anybody to tell her what to do. It’s made it fun, but I think the best of that part is yet to come, we still, that’s what we have coming up.
The Knockturnal: How much input do you get to put into what your music is on the show?
Rumer Willis: A little bit. I mean, I think what’s cool for me is I was definitely a little bit hesitant coming on this show especially with music you never … even though I know the music was good before … but you never know when you’re coming on the show and people kind of have control of the music you’re seeing whether or not it’s going to be good. When I came on last season and I had just come off doing kind of a jazz/cabaret tour and that was kind of the lane that I thought that I was going to go in, even in a personal sense. And so when I heard the music and that even I felt like that kind of inspired me to change lanes of where I thought I could fit musically so it’s been really cool. I love being able to do it and kind of get inspired for my own stuff.
The Knockturnal: What do you believe is missing from the current state of music today?
Rumer Willis: Oh my gosh, so much! Really, I mean, I grew up on a lot of old school music, my dad and mom we never really listened to what was I would say the billboard kind of things and for me, it’s missing a lot of heart. It’s missing … I think one of the most beautiful things about music especially I think of Jazz. I grew up on a lot of the Billie Holiday and Etta James and Muddy Waters and people that were really … like they had to sing, it was like life or death because that’s how much they loved it and they needed to be able to speak to you and I think that is why music is so powerful for everyone and can kind of bring back that sense memory, you can hear a song and think about the relationship you were in or your family or something happy and it can really change your mood. I think that unfortunately it’s become a bit mechanical, but that’s kind of the generation we’re in with everything. There’s not really a connection.
The Knockturnal: And then lastly, of course, you did ask the question what has Demi learned from Rumer, but what have you learned from your mom that you’ve been able to take into your career that’s helped you get to this point?
Rumer Willis: I think that growing up and watching my mom, I was always just in awe and trying to figure it out. That the biggest mistake, you can make I think, and we’ve had many conversations about, is putting yourself in a situation where you’re not able to show the best reflection of you. And also that just to be comfortable to do something that, regardless of what you’re doing, it should be representative of what you want to share. So, yeah, live in a place that comes from truth and share with people from a truthful place, even if that might be sometimes embarrassing or you might feel worried to share certain parts of yourself. I think if it comes from a genuine place then you can’t really go wrong.