*Addressing Page Six’s report that “Empire” star Trai Byers is about to leave “Empire” with the blessing of show producers, a source close to “Empire” told the outlet that it’s not true: “It’s the last week of filming the season, and he’s not quitting, nor is he being fired, for now.”
The column reported that the actor, who plays Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard’s son Andre, “wants out” of the show. An insider said, “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.”
Page Six said Byers was initially happy to score a role on the successful series but isn’t pleased with the direction the show has 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.”