“Empire” star Trai Byers — who plays Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard’s son Andre on the smash series — wants out of the Fox show, sources exclusively told Page Six. And producers are prepared to let him leave after some behind-the-scenes diva behavior.
“Trai wants out,” said an insider. “He feels that he studied at Yale and he’s a ‘true thespian’ . . . The character is beneath him. He has an idea of himself as being this big Shakespearean actor.”
While Byers was ecstatic to land a role on “Empire” in its debut season, sources said he doesn’t agree with the direction the show’s taken.
“At first, being on ‘Empire’ was major for him. But he feels his character is not as important this season, and he hates not being the star,” said a source. “He thinks he has the acting chops of Taraji and Terrence. He doesn’t get how the show benefits him, and he feels he has way too much talent when he’s not the star by any means.”
Another insider added: “Trai threw a temper tantrum during filming in the past few weeks, saying, ‘I don’t get to do enough, I might leave.’ But producers called his bluff and said, ‘Fine, if you’re not happy, we don’t need you.’ He thinks he is a brilliant guy who deserves a better role, but he’s hardly one of the most popular or dynamic actors on the show.”
The insider added: “He also fired all his reps for not getting him big movie roles.”
Byers, engaged off-screen to co-star Grace Gealey, “was up for a new Muhammad Ali movie, and in his mind he was very close to getting it,” another source said. “He fired [his team] when he didn’t, and now no one knows how to reach out to him. He’s even fired ICM.”
But a source close to “Empire” told us: “It’s the last week of filming the season, and he’s not quitting, nor is he being fired, for now.”
Fox had no comment. Byers couldn’t be reached.
Hollywood’s littered with stars who bolted hit shows for careers that fizzled, from David Caruso of “NYPD Blue” to Dan Stevens of “Downton Abbey.” Then again, George Clooney seems to have done just fine after “ER.”
Source: Page Six