Abuse, Witnessing Murder & Being Broke: Terrence Howard Lays It All On The Table

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Actor Terrence Howard plays complex characters. Whether portraying a hero, a villain, or everything in between, the Academy Award-nominated 46 year-old brings a depth to his roles, behind the green eyes and trademark voice.

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Currently, Howard is enjoying success on “Empire,” one of the nation’s biggest television shows. The show and its actor both may have appeared long-shots. In a Rolling Stone feature interview, it is discussed how show creators originally wanted Wesley Snipes to play Lucious Lyon on Lee Daniels’ FOX program about a family-owned Rap label. However, even though Terrence Howard’s stock is once again rising through exposure and many millions watching, he takes the interview in a Chicago, Illinois apartment—claiming he’s penniless. “You know, all my checks from FOX are being held for garnishment, because of my ex. I’m broke as can be,” said the former top paid Ironman actor. The finances, as he alludes, are the product of a divorce, following an abusive marriage. Now married to Mira Pak—at least at the time of the interview, Howard spoke to the publication about his life, his pain, and his track record of violence and hardship. “I’m suffering. There’s nothing worse than being a broke movie star.”

Penned by Erik Hedegaard, the R.S. feature asks the 25-year actor about his history of domestic abuse. Of first wife Lori McCommas, he recalls a publicized incident. “She was talking to me real strong, and I lost my mind and slapped her in front of the kids. Her lawyer said it was a closed fist, but even slapping her was wrong.” In the interview, Howard seems to regret some of his mistakes—largely physical, but he also aims to show how he has picked poor partners, and agreed to predatory business.

Hedegaard also pressed Terrence about further reports of domestic abuse with his second wife, Michelle Ghent. “She was trying to Mace me,” he defended. “and you can’t see anything so all you can do is try to bat somebody away, and I think that something caught her. But I wasn’t trying to hit her.” Interpersonal relationships are a driving force in the profile piece. Then-current wife Mira Pak tells Rolling Stone that the couple breaks up frequently, rarely leaves the apartment, and details about their unusual beginnings, from a restaurant run-in. Revealing that he was previously professionally diagnosed as a sex addict, Howard plays the writer a recorded phone call with one of his exes, stressing that he is the sane one in the broken relationship. The sordid details of that call, including elements of blackmail, are listed in the feature.

What may not be known prior to the read, is Terrence’s upbringing. Growing up in a Cleveland ghetto, Howard watched his father’s own temper result in violence. Tyrone Howard was the assailant in a high-profile stabbing murder, triggered by a man trying to cut the line, with his 3 children, to see Santa Clause. The piece draws comparisons of that incident to Terrence’s life, which in addition to battered spouses, includes other assault charges and a tag in Hollywood as being “difficult.”

Recalling the 1970s incident that would define his childhood and years beyond, Howard retells, “I was standing next to my father, watching. Then stuff happened so quickly — blood was on the coats, on our jackets — and then my dad’s on a table and then my dad is [on his way] to prison.”

That same patriarch, Tyrone, is a driving force from which Terrence says he gets his ideas of masculinity. “My daddy taught me, ‘Never take the vertebrae out of your back or the bass out of your throat. I ain’t raisin’ sheep. I raised men. Stay a man.'” Up against a wall of financial hardship, broken relationships, and in turn, a tarnished reputation, Howard deduces, “Being a man comes with a curse because it’s not a society made for men to flourish anymore. Everything is androgynous, you know? The more successful men now are the effeminate.”

Read: Terrence Howard’s Dangerous Mind at Rolling Stone.

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