The Dancing With The Stars champ’s character made her scripted TV debut in last night’s season 3 spring premiere and we couldn’t help but see her as an alternate reality Amy. Tory seems to be the British accent-and-beehive free dream version of the "Rehab" singer if she had gotten the dire help she needed and never overdosed in 2011.
When we meet Tory, she literally just pops up in front of the Lyons as they’re waiting to see Jamal (Jussie Smollett) for the first time since he entered rehab. Everyone is shocked to see her at the treatment facility since the singer "disappeared" after stripping naked during a performance at Fenway Park. It’s rumored she was then found in a coma at a motel and promptly whisked away to get help.
Those details mean Tory could’ve been inspired by any unfortunate celebrity undoing, but then the Lyons stress Willis’s new alter ego is a heroin addict and a serious musical genius. Although the insanely talented Amy’s official cause of death was essentially alcohol poisoning, multiple sources claim the "Back To Black" musician was addicted to heroin as well.
The timeline between Tory and Amy is also hauntingly similar. After Tory’s onstage meltdown, she was soon found in a coma and then went to rehab. Amy, on the other hand, had an onstage meltdown during a June 2011 show. She tragically died only a few weeks later after not getting treatment.
If all of this isn’t enough, Tory’s actual singing style uses the same the same bluesy-jazz tones that were Amy's signature before her death. While listening to Jamal’s downbeat first collaboration with Tory, "Simple Song," it’s clear Amy would’ve shone on a similar track.
With Tory scheduled to appear in next week's "Play On," we'll see if this theory continues to hold up.
‘Empire’ Star Jussie Smollett Somewhat ‘Takes Credit’ for Bringing Rumer Willis to Show
“To be in the Lyon’s den is a lot to take on,” Serayah McNeill said during Monday night’s Q&A panel for Fox’s hit drama, “Empire.”
If the Season 3 spring premiere event, hosted at the Grove, was any indication of what’s to come this year, her critique is probably an understatement. The show was decked with plenty of hair pulling, sibling rivalry, and a star-studded cast including newcomer Rumer Willis.
“She’s just dope,” gushed Jussie Smollett, who plays Jamal Lyon, about the actress. “I say this all the time; I’m not going to take credit for this, but…,” he shrugged trailing with a proud smirk.
Smollett revealed that he found Willis, who is the daughter of actors Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, on an Instagram video singing a rendition of an Amy Winehouse song and immediately brought his discovery to the show’s producers.
Moore will make an appearance this season, along with other Hollywood heavyweights such as Nia Long, Taye Diggs, Eva Longoria, and Phylicia Rashad.
The panel, moderated by Variety‘s Elizabeth Wagmeister, also revealed that the recurring power struggle between Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) and Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) will continue as they scrap (literally) for control of the Empire throne — coined as their biggest battle yet. Simultaneously, viewers will come to grips with a new battle as Jamal fights for his life trying to kick his drug addiction alongside his new rehab friend, Tori Ash (Willis).
“She’s definitely not going to be a positive influence on him,” Smollett teased of Willis’ character. “We really dabble with the idea, ‘is he really ready to be done [with drugs]?”
Co-creator Danny Strong, showrunner/exec producer Ilene Chaiken, director Sanaa Hamri, and writer Carlito Rodriguez, as well as stars Xzibit and Bre-Z, were also on hand for the discussion.
Who Does Rumer Willis Play On 'Empire'? Jamal Has A New BFF
She's been working in show business since she was a kid and Rumer Willis has managed to stay in the limelight and out of her famous parents’ shadows enough to appear in plenty of movies and TV shows over the years. Now, she’ll be making an appearance on FOX’s Empire and it’s clear that she’s all grown up. But who does Rumer Willis play on Empire?
When Season 3 ended for its fall break, Jamal was entering rehab, finally getting the help he’s needed for a while, and when the second half of Season 3 of Empire picks back up Wednesday night, Jamal will still be in the rehab facility his family sent him to. Willis plays a fellow patient and Jamal’s apparent new BFF, Tory Ash, who’s a former singer/star and who will butt heads with Cookie at some point.
Demi Moore and Bruce Willis’ oldest daughter has played various roles over the years, including an outcast sorority girl in The House Bunny and a drug dealer in the Comedy Central series Workaholics. So there’s no doubt that she has what it takes to join the formidable and insanely talented cast of Empire as Tory Ash. But since Jamal will likely be clean soon, hopefully his involvement with her won’t mean any eventual backsliding for the Lyon cub. And maybe Tory could continue to help him on the road to recovery?
Funny enough, later this season, Demi Moore will also appear in the Season 3 finale of Empire in what will be the beginning of a recurring role as a troubled nurse with a mysterious past. On a primetime musical soap opera, I really wouldn’t expect any less. Right now, Willis is slated to appear in at least two episodes, but how her story will intertwine with Jamal’s remains to be seen. Nevertheless, seeing her interact with Cookie and further agitate the already perpetually stressed out music producer might be the best part about the character.
In a sneak peek for the second half of Season 3 of Empire, Willis’ Tory meets Cookie, Andre, and Hakeem during their visit to the rehab facility. And already she has strong words for Cookie. “From what Jamal’s told me, I’m surprised all the Lyon cubs aren’t in rehab,” Tory says in the clip. (And I mean, harsh, but fair.)
Willis’ talents don’t stop at acting though, which is likely why she was cast to play a fellow singer on Empire. On an episode of Sway in the Morning in October 2016, she sang live on the air and blew him away, and also went on tour last year. Before that, Willis played Roxie in Chicago on Broadway, so she definitely has the legitimate music talent to backup her new character on Empire.