Person of Interest’s Detective Joss Carter may have fallen in the line of duty, but actress Taraji P. Henson has landed on her feet. She’s set to star in a new FOX television show called Empire, which will be helmed by Lee Daniels of The Butler fame. Carter was killed off last fall in one of the more shocking on-screen deaths in recent television memory. While the casting closes to door on any potential last minute change-ups in which Carter could have rejoined the cast of Person Of Interest with her “death” explained away as a narrative trick, the move does raise new issues as to the circumstances of her departure from the show.
Person of Interest was centered around a stable cast of four characters, with Henson portraying a police detective who, along with her partner Fusco, secretly assisted the two men who were using a computer prediction model to prevent murders from happening. The producers strongly suggested that Fusco was to be killed, but instead it was Carter who lay dying by the end of the episode in question. At the time, producers declared it as evidence of the show’s ongoing unpredictability, despite the fact that there had been no such unpredictability among the cast in its first two and a half years. Henson explained away the departure by stating that she didn’t enjoy working in television and wanted to return to film. But the Hollywood Reporter confirmed yesterday that she’s indeed remaining on the small screen.
With Henson now having dived into another television series almost immediately, it casts further doubt on the veracity of what any of the parties involved have said about her departure. Person of Interest has been flailing since the death of Carter, having lost its original premise of preventing the murders of strangers and is instead now focused on hunting down the machine itself. Killing off Carter did nothing to advance the storyline, and based on the ongoing outpouring of protest from fans of the show on social networks like Twitter, the move seems to have done the show nothing but harm.
Such moves tend to only happen when the producers no longer want to work with the actor in question, or when the actor no longer wants to be a part of the show. But if Henson wasn’t looking to get out of television, as her signing on with Empire suggests, was she simply no longer interested in working with producer Jonathan Nolan? There had been some flap a year earlier when the two male stars of the show were placed on the cover of TV Guide but Henson was left off; she complained publicly about the matter. And yet Nolan is on record in stating that he hopes Henson will come back occasionally to portray Carter in flashback sequences, suggesting that he had no issue working with her.
While it’s unlikely that the real reason for Henson’s departure from Person of Interest will be fully explained by any of the parties involved, it’s becoming increasingly clear that there’s an untold story involved.