Popular actor Jussie Smollett will not be returning to Empire, the show’s co-creator Lee Daniels has now confirmed.
Responding to claims that writers were preparing for Smollett’s comeback, Daniels tweeted: “Jussie will NOT be returning to Empire.” Daniels’s tweet is the first public confirmation that Smollett will definitely not be coming back for the sixth and final season.
— Lee Daniels Entertainment (@leedanielsent) June 4, 2019
As reported by The Sauce, the actor was accused of staging a racist and homophobic attack on himself in January – which he’s always denied. But since the incident, there’s been speculation over his future on the show.
In April, TV Network Fox confirmed Empire had been renewed for a sixth season and the studio had “negotiated an extension to Jussie Smollett’s option for season six,” adding, there were no immediate “plans for the character of Jamal to return”.
Smollett has been on the show since the first season in 2015. His character, Jamal Lyon was written out for the final two episodes of season five following the allegations and fans have been waiting to hear confirmation about his return ever since.
But now it’s official – Jussie is out. Daniels has previously spoken of the “pain and anger and sadness and frustration” that Smollett’s case has caused him and the Empire cast, reported BBC.
In a letter to Fox executives and series producers on 19 April, Empire cast members expressed support for Smollett, writing: “Together, as a united front, we stand with Jussie Smollett and ask that our co-star, brother and friend be brought back for our sixth season of Empire,” reported The Sauce.
Despite the charges being dropped, Chicago police repeated accusations that Smollett “orchestrated” the attack and ordered him to pay $130,000 (£99,000) to compensate for the manpower used investigating his alleged assault. The City of Chicago has sued Smollett after he refused to pay the amount and he has continued to deny the allegations.