Empire's Jussie Smollett has been making headlines for some unpleasant reasons over the past month. The actor was recently arrested on the charge of allegedly filing a false police report when he claimed that he was attacked on the streets of Chicago, in what was originally classified as a hate crime. That left the question of his future on the hit Fox show. Now, the show is reportedly considering a recast to keep Jamal on the show without Jussie Smollett in the role.
Empire producers are considering casting a new actor to play Jamal in a sixth season of the show, according to TVLine, and an Empire insider allegedly revealed that show co-creator Lee Daniels in particular is on board with the option of recasting. Notably, the character of Jamal is loosely based on Daniels. Although representatives for Empire and Lee Daniels have not yet commented on the recasting option, many Empire fans may not be altogether shocked if a recasting does happen.
Of course, Jussie Smollett has not officially been axed from Empire by this point, so there's no guarantee that Jamal will ever be played by somebody else. At the time of writing, the latest official statement from Fox and Empire is that Smollett will not appear in the last two episodes of Season 5, which were the last two that hadn't been completed by the time the scandal broke. Lee Daniels was among those who signed the statement regarding Smollett's absence from the final two episodes.
The scandal began back in the end of January, when Jussie Smollett claimed that he had been attacked by two men, and there was an outpouring of sympathy for him. Later, however, rumors began to circulate that authorities suspected that Smollett had staged the attack and had prior acquaintance with the two men who first appeared as the prime suspects. Authorities claim that he hired them to fake the attack. By the end of this week, Smollett was arrested for filing a false police report and then released on bail.
Well, nobody may have any choice on the matter if Jussie Smollett is convicted of filing the false police report. A guilty verdict could result in up to three years in prison. The folks at Fox and Empire may not wait that long to make a decision, though. The whole scandal has not exactly resulted in positive attention for the show, and this isn't the first time that a star of a Fox drama faced a potential recasting after some real-life issues.
Unlike Clayne Crawford and Lethal Weapon, however, it seems more likely that Empire would present a new actor as Jamal than simply kill off the original character and replace him with somebody new. After all, the whole affair broke out after the flash-forward death in Empire Season 5 presumably had been settled, and it's difficult to imagine the show without all three of the Lyon brothers. Jamal is certainly in the thick of the drama in Season 5.
Empire returns for the second half of Season 5 on Wednesday, March 13 at 8 p.m. ET on Fox. For more of what to watch and when to watch it, take a look at our midseason TV premiere schedule.