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YBF INTERVIEW: Taraji P. Henson Reveals How SHE Persuaded Idris Elba To Be Her "No Good Deed" Co-Star + Racial Profiling Advice She Gave Her Son

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Before a private screening of her upcoming film, No Good Deeds, the fun and fabulous Taraji P. Henson gave us the low down on the ish we've been wanting to know: Details on working with Idris, her upcoming birthday plans, and her take (as the daughter of a cop) on the racial unrest involving the police. 


Taraji tells TheYBF.com about the impassioned phone call she made to co-star Idris Elba and shared her thoughts on the Ferguson protests, and what she tells her son Marcel about dealing with the police.  More inside....


Taraji P. Henson, who stars in No Good Deed (opening a day after her 44th birthday, September 12th), chopped it up with THEYBF.com about producing the thriller with Will Packer ("I read the script and I was like...this is brilliant") and the tear-filled phone call, which Taraj dubbed her "Best Performance Ever", to get Idris Elba to commit to the role.  Details on how to PERSUADE the sexiness that is Idris Elba to do something?  Yeah, we took notes.

Also, Taraji, whose father was a police officer, opened up about being a single mother to 20-year-old son Marcel and the advice she gives him about dealing with law enforcement officials ("I grew up in the hood. So I know what racial profiling is all about. So I’m scared. I worry about him and I put my hands on him while he’s asleep and I put my hands on his car and I say God cover him"). 

And before she hits network television on the upcoming Lee Daniels-directed series "Empire" with Terrence Howard, she had a few words about the Ferguson protests and for dealing with racially-charged insults on social media.

TheYBF.com correspondent Krysta Underwood caught up with Taraj (wearing a top, skirt and shoes from Marissa Webb) at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hill. Here are the highlights:

On starring in No Good Deed

I’ve never done a thriller before. What attracted me to it was the fact that she didn’t play the victim. That’s what initially got my interest and then I kept reading and I got to that twist at the end and I was like Ahhhhhhhhh – I have to do it! I was like, OH MY GODDD this is brilliant!

On being an Executive Producer of the film with Will Packer

I got the script first. I met Will Packer from No Good Deed. He brought this script to me the first year me and Terrance Howard hosted the soul train awards – 5 to 7 years ago. Will was just up and coming. He had just done Stomp The Yard so he brings me this script and I had kind of heard about him and I read the script and I was like, When can we go! When can we go!

On originally seeking a white male lead for “No Good Deed”

The script was originally sitting at another studio and even though they don’t specify race I think it was written for white leads. Will brought the script to me because it was just sitting around and he was like, 'I think you would be great in this. We gotta find you a lead, It should be a white guy.' So we went down the list of all the incredible white guys, but the schedules didn’t work out.

On shifting focus and finding a black male lead:

Think Like A Man came in the interim and we (she and Will) put that to the side and we did TLAM and I was like, but I want to do No Good Deed! Then Will said it’s hard trying to get a white lead so why don’t we make it two black leads?  I had already worked with Michael Ealy. Tyrese. So then it was like…who haven’t I worked with? Gasp! Idris Elba! And I went after him with a vengeance! [And we are NOT mad at that!]

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On the “Best Performance Ever” phone call that booked Idris Elba to star in No Good Deed:

Initially when I got the script and we decided it was going to be two black leads we had Idris locked, but then time went on and then he booked Mandela.

I understand as an actor that’s a dream role but, ‘Dude….You do realize you PROMISED you were going to do this movie? I have a son about to go to college! I put this money aside so…I’m gone need you to get it together. I’m a single mother.'

It was the best performance ever. One phone call….and he was there!

On talking sh*t to Idris Elba:

We have a banter and he knows how to push my buttons. I’m quick out the mouth! – I’m slick out the mouth!—and he loves it! He likes to push my buttons. The first thing I told him, I said,

“Let me tell you something Idris, I don’t care what you look like. You ain’t all that fine….

And I know all these women are like Idris! Idris! Idris! I said I’M NOT DOING IT!

On working with Idris in the future:

He did it (No Good Deed) and I love him so much but then I tried to ask for a couple more favors and he said (she mimics his British accent), “Didn’t I already help you?“

I said, 'You helped ME help YOU sucka! See that’s why I have a problem with you Idris!' [laughs]

On the advice she gives 20-year-old son Marcel about dealing with law enforcement:

I’m telling him to be aware of his surroundings at all time! I’m petrified! If something doesn’t feel right get out of there! Fortunately for him and us, I grew up in the hood. So I know what racial profiling is all about. So I’m scared. I worry about him and I put my hands on him while he’s asleep and I put my hands on his car and I say God cover him.

On growing up as the daughter of a cop, and how police presence has changed over time:

First of all, my father was a cop. He was in the service. I grew up in a time where we called police officers “Officer Friendly”. They would come to the schools and they lived in the communities.  Now it’s very, very different. You don’t see as many black cops anymore.

On the Ferguson protesters:

When you have a bunch of people all packed in this little area...what do you think is going to happen? They don’t know to do this peaceful thing. When every time you try to get ahead, it’s somebody there to push you back. What do you think is going to happen? What do you expect?

On Twitter Gangsters:

I get really offended when I say nice things on Twitter and people jump on me. And it’s like, you don’t know my struggle. You don’t know where I come from.

On responding to personal attacks on social media and avoiding Twitter beefs:

I usually take the high road. I just had a very intelligent exchange with a guy on my Instagram the other day and we both saw different things but by the time we finished he was like thank you! OMG! I never saw it like that.

On dealing with racism on social media:

You can’t meet hate with hate. Somebody has to rise above it. So whenever they say horrible things like, “That’s what that Ni**a deserved”, I go ‘you sweet angel I just pray to God you never suffer the loss of a child. God bless you and yours. Kissy Kissy Kiss. ‘

On Beyonce’s VMA Performance:

I missed everything! What was I doing? Traveling! I missed The VMAs, but I caught the baby [Blue Ivy] (does hand motion) on Instagram.


On what she’ll do to celebrate her 44th birthday (September 11th):

I have no idea. Probably working. After I finish this press tour I leave for Chicago to film "Empire". The cast is like what do you want to do? Am I like I don’t know. Do something for me!

On her summer vacation AND being a hypochondriac:

I went to the British Virgin Islands, I went to the Bahamas, almost went to Africa but I’m kind of glad I didn’t go because of what’s going on right now (Ebola outbreak). I would’ve been a nervous wreck! My brain would’ve been like, 'I got it in transit! I know I did!' I’m a hypochondriac anyway! I just know in my mind I would’ve gotten it in transit. I would’ve made myself sick.


Gotta love her!


No Good Deed, starring Taraji P. Henson and Idris Elba, opens nationwide on September 12th.



Photos via Krysta Underwood for TheYBF.com/Getty

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