American singer and actor Jussie Smollett will not be returning to ‘Empire’ for the finale.
The 37-year-old actor who played musician Jamal Lyon in the drama was accused of having orchestrated a racist and homophobic attack on himself back in January, and although he had the case against him dropped in March 2019, he filed a petition for malicious prosecution, claiming officials created the narrative and it has cost him hugely.
As a result, Fox confirmed there were “no plans” for him to return to the show, with his last appearance in June.
However, showrunner Brett Mahoney claimed in December that they were in talks with the ‘Alien: Covenant’ star to bring him back for the final episodes set to air in May.
It has now been confirmed by Fox’s Entertainment President, Michael Thorn, that the actor will not be reprising his role. He told TVLine: “We’re not going to bring Jussie back to the show.”
He then elaborated that there were “many factors” to the “hard decision”, but ultimately they didn’t want the “controversy surrounding Jussie to overshadow the show”.
He added: “There were a number of factors that went into the decision to not bring him back. “There were many points of view about if he should come back or if he shouldn’t. As hard as a decision as that was, for us — and when I say us I mean the network, the studio and the producers — it felt like it was in the best interests of the show and the cast.”
“Our hope is that all of the controversy surrounding Jussie doesn’t overshadow the show, which we think is bigger than him.”
Confirming his exit from the family comedy in June, Fox CEO Charlie Collier said: “We as much as anything in case like this, you try to get all the information and make a good decision. [Creator Lee Daniels] is right, there’s no plans for Jussie to return to ‘Empire’ … typically it’s about gathering right info and making sure we’re making the right decisions.”
‘Empire’ creator Lee Daniels previously admitted he was “beyond embarrassed” to have initially defended Jussie in the wake of the allegations.
As reported by The Sauce, Jussie who had played Jamal since the beginning of the show was indicted in March with 16 counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report claiming he was attacked by two men in Chicago in January.