Jamal won’t have the chance to say goodbye. Jussie Smollett has been suspended from Empire following his arrest for filing a false police report and allegedly staging an attack against himself in January.
On Friday, February 22, producers Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Brett Mahoney, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo and Dennis Hammer revealed in a statement that Smollett, 36, will not appear in the final two episodes of the season.
“The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us. Jussie has been an important member of our Empire family for the past five years and we care about him deeply,” the Fox team said. “While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out. We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of ‘Jamal’ from the final two episodes of the season.”
When the actor was arrested on Thursday, February 21, Chicago police claimed that he paid two men to stage the attack because he was not satisfied with his salary on the Fox drama. Later in the day, he posted 10 percent of his $100,000 bail at the Cook County courthouse in Chicago, and his legal team released a statement, claiming that he was being used as a “spectacle.”
“Today we witnessed an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system. The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett and notably, on the eve of a Mayoral election,” his legal team said in a statement. “Mr. Smollett is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing.”
The singer then returned to the Empire set on Thursday, and according to CNN, the actor apologized to the show’s cast and crew for any embarrassment he may have caused, while still standing by his innocence.
On January 29, Smollett claimed to police that he was physically attacked by two men who were yelling homophobic and racist slurs before placing a rope around this neck. He also claimed that he had received a threatening letter days before the attack; police now believe he wrote the letter to himself. In a sit down interview with Robin Roberts on February 14, Smollett got emotional about the “possible hate crime.”
“I’m pissed off,” he told the Good Morning America host. “It’s like, you know, at first, it was a thing of, like, ‘Listen, if I tell the truth then that’s it, ‘cause it’s the truth.’ Then it became a thing of like, ‘Oh, how can you doubt that? Like, how do you — how do you not believe that? It’s the truth.’ And then it became a thing of like, ‘Oh, it’s not necessarily that you don’t believe that this is the truth, you don’t even want to see the truth.’”
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