“Empire” co-creator Danny Strong (who developed the show along with Lee Daniels) and executive producer Wendy Calhoun were on hand at the ATX Television Festival in Austin to preview the second season of Fox’s breakout hit, discussing everything from the proliferation of guest star cameos to the show’s “Game of Thrones”-inspired tone in season two.
“Eighteen more episodes, it’s a lot,” Strong quipped of the series’ expanded order in season two. “It’s not a cookie-cutter type show; it’s not the crime of the week; it’s not the medical disease of the week … I’m very attached to the mythology of the Lyon family, so there’s gonna be a storyline in season two that’s a flashback story that I’m very excited about, an origin story for one of the characters.”
Although season one ended with Jamal (Jussie Smollett) being named as his father Lucious’ (Terrence Howard) successor as owner of Empire, Strong cautioned, “Just because you get the empire doesn’t mean you get to keep the empire.”
According to Strong, season two’s theme is “warring kingdoms — so we’ll see the kingdoms go to war over the throne,” he teased. “A thing we talk about in the writers’ room all the time is ‘Game of Thrones,’ so telling this modern day hip-hop soap opera but trying to frame it in an epic, mythological kingdom framework, is the most exciting part of the show… The continuation of those battles is what I personally dig the most…”