Jussie Smollett will be removed from final episodes of Empire


Jussie Smollett’s character Jamal Lyon will be removed from the last two episodes of Fox’s Empire following his arrest. 

Following Jussie Smollett’s arrest for filing a false police report for an alleged staging of a hate crime attack, the actor’s future on Fox’s Empire seems to be coming to an end.

Executive producers Lee Daniels, Brett Mahoney, Sanaa Hamri, Danny Strong, Brian Grazer, Francie Calfo and Dennis Hammer shared in a joint statement that Smollett will be removed from the final two episodes this season.

"The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us. Jussie has been an important member of our Empire family for the past five years and we care about him deeply. While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out. We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of Jamal from the final two episodes of the season."

Smollett “maintains his innocence”

Smollett appeared in court in Chicago on Thursday, where his bail was set at $100,000. The actor reportedly went straight from court to Cinespace Studios where Empire is filmed.

His legal team issued the following statement on Thursday night, noting that Smollett “fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed” by the legal system.

Below is the statement in full:

"Today we witnessed an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system. The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett and notably, on the eve of a mayoral election. Mr. Smollett is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing."

Future on Empire uncertain

Smollett plays Jamal Lyon on the hit show Empire, which is currently filming the 17th of season 5’s 18 episodes. With Smollett suspended from the rest of this season, it is likely any scenes featuring his character will be removed.

Empire is expected to be renewed, but whether or not Smollett will appear in future seasons is unclear at this point. The Hollywood Reporter cited sources on Thursday that some at Fox were considering removing him from the show, waiting to see how off-camera drama played out, while others defended Smollett, arguing he is innocent until proven guilty.

Hollywood reacts to Smollett’s arrest

Following news of the attack, several cast members of the show, as well as fellow celebrities, politicians, and fans, offered support and condolences to Smollett.

That support has quickly turned to a mix of outrage, disappointment, and confusion. Just last night during the 12th Black Women in Hollywood luncheon, honoree Jenifer Lewis addressed Smollett’s case.

Lewis shared at the event:

"Before you lie to us, remember Rosa sat on that bus. Before you tell your tale, remember Mandela sat in that jail. Before you do anything, remember Dr. Martin Luther King. Before you connive and steal, I dare you to google Emmett Till."

Director Tyler Perry, who was one of the first to speak up in support of Smollett following news of his attack, shared a photo on Instagram of Smollett next to pictures of two missing men police have been unable to find.

Perry shared in his post that he wishes the disappearances of Terrance Williams and Felipe Santos “could get half as much attention as this Jussie Smollett thing.” Perry added, “I have personally spoken to Jussie, and he is adamant that he’s telling the truth.”

We will continue to cover this story as it develops.