Talk about an extended honeymoon! Earlier this month, Empire co-creator Lee Daniels confirmed that Jussie Smollett, who portrays Jamal on the series, will not be returning for the sixth and final season. The character was last seen getting married and taking off on his honeymoon.
“Jamal is taking a sabbatical from the family,” Empire showrunner Brett Mahoney told TVLine in a new interview about Jamal’s absence when the series returns. “He doesn’t want to be caught up in Lyon family drama, which is very much in keeping with his point of view last season — that [the family business] should be something that the family moves away from. … Jamal and Kai have decided to stay in London.”
In February, Smollett, 37, was cut from the final episodes of season 5, following ongoing legal trouble. In January, he reported to Chicago police that he was a victim of an alleged hate crime. He was later indicted on 16 counts of disorderly content after allegedly filing a false police report. He continuously maintained his innocence and in March, all charges against him were dropped.
After he was written out of the two final episodes, the cast wrote an open letter pleading to bring him back.
“We understand the past months have been difficult to process — sometimes the headlines brought more confusion than clarity, yet we now have a conclusion to this ordeal. Throughout Empire’s five seasons working with Jussie and watching how he has conducted himself throughout this traumatic event, we have come to know not just the character Jussie portrays, but also truly come to know Jussie’s personal character,” the letter, which was signed by Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Howard, Bryshere Y. Gray, Trai Byers, Gabourey Sidibe and Nicole Ari Parker, read in part. “He is kind. He is compassionate. He is honest and above all he is filled with integrity. He is also innocent and no longer subject to legal uncertainty with the criminal charges against him having been dropped. We are confident in his lawyer’s assurance that the case was dismissed because it would not have prevailed.”
Empire premieres on Fox Tuesday, September 24 at 9 p.m. ET.
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