‘Empire’ Taps Marisa Tomei For Season 2

Empire continues to add to its roster of guest stars for Season 2. Superstars Chris Rock, Alicia Keys, and Lenny Kravitz are all set to appear. On Thursday, Deadline reported that Oscar winner Marisa Tomei will also have a recurring role.

Tomei’s character is Mimi Whiteman, a billionaire venture capitalist and hip-hop fan.

Marisa Tomei won an Oscar for her role in My Cousin Vinny. Deadline said her character in that film, Mona Lisa Vito, could “rival Taraji P. Henson’s Cookie in the sass department.” There’s no sense yet of the tone of Tomei’s new character.

Empire’s breakout success last season got the series a quick renewal. In a conversation with The Hollywood Reporter, co-creator Danny Strong said the news of a second season didn’t cause the writers to save any plotlines for year two. They laid it all out on the table in Season 1.

“We were so deep into it, we couldn’t hold anything back. You saw how much plotting we had and how we were constantly trying to turn the story over and over and over again at a crazy pace. I think that’s part of the fun of the show. Holding back on story is not something we can be accused of.”

As for Cookie, Strong said her character’s strength was evident even before an actor was chosen to play her. Strong credits Henson with making Cookie the standout that she is.

“Cookie was conceived in a way that was a unique character we hadn’t really seen on TV. And then Taraji, a brilliant comic actress and a brilliant dramatic actress, she took what was pretty cool on the page and really elevated it. Literally our second day, Lee and I were just giddy over her performance — we knew how entertaining it was and how powerful it was.”

Tomei’s last television appearance was a four-episode arc on FX’s Rescue Me back in 2006. Tomei is much more active in big screen roles, including the upcoming Amy Schumer-Bill Hader flick Trainwreck. Tomei plays “The Dog Owner.”

Deadline also reported that Tomei has a miniseries about feminist Gloria Steinem in development. Tomei will star and produce along with George Clooney.

Season 2 of Empire premieres on September 23.

[Photo by Frazer Harrison / Getty Images Entertainment]