Things have not been easy lately for Empire actor Jussie Smollett. As rumors continue to swirl about both his potential legal troubles and his work on the hit show, those at Fox have stepped forward again to clarify his current role on the music drama. Reports first surfaced last week that Smollett would be written off of the series in the wake of allegations that he staged the late January attack on himself, and now there are rumors that his scenes in the episode that is currently being filmed have been cut. But, once again, 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment have come out to declare those reports untrue. Here's the statement that was released:
Jussie Smollett continues to be a consummate professional on set and as we have previously stated, he is not being written out of the show.
While short and to the point, the above statement, which comes to us via Variety, does appear to make it apparent that those at Fox and Empire are committed to standing behind Jussie Smollett, even though this statement doesn't specifically say that he's not being written out of the show's penultimate episode, as was reported yesterday. A clear effort was made to detail Smollett's professionalism, likely as a way to say that the people behind the show have no immediate reason to remove him from the production as the investigation into his attack continues. But, should Smollett's alleged issues with law enforcement continue to intensify, the show and network may change their collective tune.
In late January, Jussie Smollett reported to the police that he was attacked while walking to get food in Chicago. He told police that two men screamed racial and homophobic slurs at him, poured an unknown substance (which was reportedly bleach) on him and also put a noose around his neck. This, of course, led to Chicago police investigating his alleged attack as a hate crime. Late last week, though, rumors began to circulate that Smollett may have orchestrated the attack when two brothers who were under investigation for the crime were released without charges, and a tip reportedly came in to police that he was actually seen with those men before the supposed attack.
According to this new statement, though, Empire and Fox have no plans to abandon their support of Jussie Smollett. And, it's pretty easy to understand why they'd be reluctant to cut him and his character from the show. Smollett has played Jamal Lyon since the drama began in 2015, and through five seasons he's been an important (and popular) part of the show. There's certainly enough on-screen drama to go around on Empire, and anyone familiar with night-time soaps will know that the genre is no stranger to writing even major characters out when the time is deemed right. The series is still relatively young, though, and the idea of getting rid of a big player right now is probably not something the producers and writers really want to contemplate, especially if it's not completely necessary.
The police investigation into Jussie Smollett's alleged attack and his potential role in it is still on going, and we might not have clear answers for quite a while. In the meantime, though, it appears as though Smollett's gig on Empire is safe. Be sure to stay tuned to CInemaBlend, and we'll bring you the latest updates on the case as they become available.