Empire Cast And Crew Reportedly Split Over Jussie Smollett's Case Dismissal

empire characters on stage season 5
(Image credit: fox press)

Nearly two months after the night when Jussie Smollett was allegedly attacked in Chicago, that case is still providing big and shocking headlines. Just this week, the office of State Attorney Kim Foxx announced that all charges against Smollett were being dropped, making the actor a free man once again. Many people in Hollywood reacted strongly to the news, and it's being reported that Empire's cast and crew are largely split in their opinions about Smollett's current situation.

While some of Jussie Smollett's Empire co-stars took to social media to celebrate the charges being dropped against him, others on the show are allegedly still dissenting attitudes about how things have played out. According to TMZ's production sources, several people working on the Empire set do not believe that the sudden lack of charges against Smollett works as proof of his innocence in the matter, and they're more than a little surprised by the diminished outcome.

These Empire workers, whose identities and duties were kept anonymous, are said to be quite offended by the notion that Jussie Smollett allegedly faked his own attack due to a lack of happiness with his TV salary. They reportedly feel as if the actor is now a liability for the show, and that Empire showrunner Lee Daniels should get rid of him altogether if Fox should order Season 6 for the fall. (That renewal may not happen if the ratings keep going south.)

On the flip side, it's stated that others on staff – "especially writers," per the report – do indeed feel like the dropped charges are indicative of Jussie Smollett being the true victim in the case overall. Several cast members are just happy that Smollett's legal woes are getting lighter, believing that the continued controversy put the show's renewal chances in jeopardy at Fox.

Empire star Taraji P. Henson went public with her happiness about Smollett's news, saying that she didn't believe any headlines about his guilt, because she knows him as a person. Here's how she put it to USA Today.

I'm happy that the truth has finally been set free, because I knew it all along. We're all happy for him, and thank God the truth prevailed. . . . When I know someone, there's nothing you can say to make me flip on them, and that's what we miss in this world. We need people that stand by us. Whatever happened to that? Why are we so easy to believe strangers over people we know?

Outside of Empire and its own array of scandals, certain officials within the city of Chicago have been majorly critical of the decision to drop the charges. Chicago PD Superintendent Eddie Johnson went so far as to say "it was Smollett who committed this hoax," as he was calling out the case's prosecutors for not alerting the police about their dismissal plans. As well, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanual said that the most recent events were "not on the level," and he went so far as to call the decision a "whitewash of justice."

Joseph Magats, who is First Assistant to the Cook County State Attorney, went on record defending the decision by saying the charges were dropped partly because Chicago already has to use up many resources just dealing with the city's violence problem. Since Jussie Smollett had no previous history with violence, and because the charges against him were not of a violent nature, Magats stated he decided moving forward with prosecuting Smollett wouldn't have been optimal for the department.

To be clear, Magats also stated that he fully believes that Jussie Smollett is guilty of perpetrating a hoax and lying to the police. And the case definitely isn't over yet, regardless of these charges getting dropped. There's still an ongoing FBI investigation looking into the letter that was addressed to Jussie and sent to Fox Studios in Chicago.

Though brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo were initially suspected to have sent the hateful letter in a threatening manner, some officials believe that Smollett himself is responsible for mailing it. If it's determined the actor did send it, he could again be facing criminal charges in court.

While there's still no word on what Jussie Smollett's future will be on Fox's Empire, the hit drama continues to air on Wednesday nights at 8:00 p.m. ET. Remember when the biggest headlines Empire was making had to do with the mystery body in the casket?

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.