Terrence Howard Saw His Father Kill a Man While Waiting to Meet Santa

by | PopCrush
Terrence Howard
Pascal Le Segretain, Getty Images

Empire‘s Lucious Lyon lives a life full of high stakes and even higher drama — and a new Rolling Stone profile confirms the same can be said for his portrayer, Terrence Howard.

In a piece titled “Terrence Howard’s Dangerous Mind,” the Academy Award-nominated actor sheds light on a personal life marked by violence and outright bizarre behavior, during both his childhood and his life as a grown man.

One of the first things we learn about Howard is that when he was a very young child, his father Tyrone stabbed a man to death while the two were waiting in line to visit a department-store Santa Claus. It happened in Cleveland in 1971, and it was known as the ‘Santa Line Slaying’ in the media. “I was standing next to my father, watching,” Howard said. “Then stuff happened so quickly — blood was on the coats, on our jackets — and then my dad’s on a table and then my dad is gone to prison.”

The piece points to that terrible event as a possible formative influence on Terrence’s own alleged temper and the domestic violence accusations that have been leveled against him in the past. As the profile points out, the actor has been kicked off a plane and punched strangers in a restaurant. He also pled guilty to disorderly conduct after an arrest for pummeling his first wife. It’s the only charge he addresses in the interview, saying, “She was talking to me real strong, and I lost my mind and slapped her in front of the kids.”

We also learn that Howard is something of a manic sculptor, wielding “scissors, wire, magnets and vast numbers of sheets of plastic.” He’s out to explore a far-out theory he calls “Terryology,” which posits that sometimes, one may not equal one, but actually two. Howard started to map it out, just A Beautiful-Minding with intensity, all while protecting his brainchild: “He wrote forward and backward, with both his right and left hands, sometimes using symbols he made up that look foreign, if not alien, to keep his ideas secret until they could be patented.”

Mira Pak, his now ex-wife and mother of his infant son Qirin, used to help with his ambitious sculptural endeavors. “The two would spend up to 17 hours a day cutting shapes out of the plastic and joining them together into various objects meant to demonstrate not only his one-times-one theory but many others as well.”

He calls himself a “broke movie star,” saying his wages are garnished after the end of his extremely troubled marriage to Michelle Ghent. “It’s always been a hard road for me. I run into bad luck.”

That “bad luck” apparently includes the dramatic drop in paycheck zeros between the lauded Hustle & Flow and 2008’s Iron Man, after women started complaining about his angry behavior on movie sets. “When all that stuff went down about me, you’re not in any bargaining position,” he told Rolling Stone, neither denying the claims or apologizing for them. “You’re shunned. You’re persona non grata.”

One female costar of Howard’s did champion him, however: Taraji P. Henson insisted that Empire co-creator Lee Daniels cast her Hustle & Flow costar as Lucious (Daniels had initially pictured Wesley Snipes in the role). “Everything I do with Lucious is still me,” says Howard. “I just change the vibration.”

You can read the entire fascinating profile over at Rolling Stone.

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