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The Jussie Smollett situation is bizarre to watch play out from afar, but it's especially tough for the people in his life. Smollett was just arrested on a felony charge of disorderly conduct after his allegedly false claim that he was attacked. The Empire actor plays Jamal Lyon on the Fox drama, with Terrence Howard as his father Lucious Lyon. Howard posted love for his on-screen son with a sweet video showing Smollett holding a baby:
As you can see, he captioned the video, "All your lil homies got you. We love the hell outta you." Some fans were surprised by his support, considering the damage Jussie Smollett is accused of doing to fake an attack. Here's how Terrence Howard replied to one critic:
Sorry you feel that way but that's the only Jussie I know. The Jussie I know could never even conceive of something so unconscious and ugly. His innocence or judgment is not for any of us to decide. Stay in your lane and my lane is empathy and love and compassion for someone I've called my son for five years. It's God's job to judge and it's ours to love and hope, especially for those that we claim to have loved.
It's a totally different thing when you know the person in question. Terrence Howard and Jussie Smollett have been co-stars for five seasons. Smollett insists he didn't make up the attack, despite Chicago police claiming he paid two brothers to target him because he was allegedly unhappy with his salary on the show.
According to CNN, Jussie Smollett's attorneys said they plan to mount "an aggressive defense."
Empire and the Fox brass have changed their tunes over the past week. Initially, they stood by Jussie Smollett. When a rumor spread that Smollett staged the attack because he was worried about being written off the show, the network and show blasted the rumor as "patently ridiculous." They had no plans to write him off the show.
But now that Jussie Smollett has been arrested, Fox shared a statement saying Empire planned to remove the character of Jamal from the final two episodes of Season 5. There are also now rumors that Empire producers are considering recasting the role of Jamal for Season 6, so as to keep the character around.
Jussie Smollett claimed he was attacked on January 29. The next day, Terrence Howard spoke about the incident on Good Morning America (via Us Weekly), sharing how the Empire cast reacted when they heard Smollett was hospitalized:
Jaws dropped to the ground. And then when we learned there had been letters that had been sent to Fox as threats about the potential of something like this … then we became much more frightened. [...] You know, he’s angry, but I know Jussie. Jussie’s anger will dissipate and he will forgive these people for what they did. But he won’t — and we cannot — forget their actions. They have to be forgiven because it was done out of ignorance.
Previously, fellow Empire star Taraji P. Henson said she just told Jussie Smollett to speak his truth.
Jussie Smollett is reportedly due back in court March 14. Empire Season 5 returns from break on March 13 at 8 p.m. ET on Fox, as one of the many shows airing during the 2019 midseason.