'Empire' Production Halts as Jussie Smollett Recovers From Attack

Jessica Napoli

Jussie Smollett was attacked early Tuesday morning in Chicago by two men who were "yelling out racial and homophobic slurs," police say.

The openly gay Empire actor was hit in the face, had an "unknown chemical substance" poured on him, and a rope wrapped around his neck. He reportedly suffered a broken rib and other injuries and was taken to a hospital where he was released later that day.

Smollett is recovering and in "good condition" but it's unclear whether or not he will return to filming the Fox musical drama, where he plays Jamal Lyon. According to Deadline, the series will not continue its filming schedule for the time-being and will be "going dark Wednesday" — along with the Fox's new series Proven Innocent, which is also shot in Chicago — due to both the attack and the frigid weather conditions hitting the Midwest.

Deadline also reported that counselors and a SAG-AFTRA representative were made available on the set of Empire to speak with and comfort the cast and crew. They will remain available as long as they are needed.

Shooting would typically wrap in March but future production is up in the air as Smollett heals.

After news of the "possible hate crime" broke, Hollywood and Smollett's Empire team reacted spoke out on social media. “We are deeply saddened and outraged to learn that a member of our ‘Empire’ family, Jussie Smollett, was viciously attacked last night,” 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment wrote in a statement.

The show's co-creator Lee Daniels said, “Jussie you are my son. You didn’t deserve, nor anybody deserve to have a noose put around your neck, to have bleach thrown on you, to be called ‘die f—–, n—–,’ or whatever they said to you. You are better than that. We are better than that. America is better than that."

 

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We got this @jussiesmollett 🌈👊🏾👊🏾

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The Empire writers:

The 35-year-old's co-star,Terrence Howard told Good Morning America, "I heard he’s getting better. He’s angry, but I know Jussie. Jussie’s anger will dissipate, and he will forgive these people for what they did. But he won’t, and we cannot, forget their actions. They have to be forgiven because it was done out of ignorance.”

As did his on-screen mother, Taraji P. Henson:

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I wish what happened to my baby was just one big bad joke but it wasn’t and we all feel his pain right now. @jussiesmollett is pure love to the bone AND THAT IS WHY SO MANY ARE FEELING HIS PAIN BECAUSE IT IS OUR PAIN!!! I tell you one thing HATE WILL NOT WIN!!!! My baby is resilient and love still lives in him. The devil and his minions are very busy right now but one thing is for sure and two things are for certain #GODIS and that is all I know. This song needs to be downloaded until it goes triple platinum because the message is NEEDED. #weareresilientpeople AND #weaintgoingnowhereuntillwearefinished. The love so many have him just goes to show HE IS LOVE!!!! I LOVE YOU MY BABY MY BABY!!! #LOVEWINSALWAYS. 🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾💋💋💋

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And other celebrities speaking out in support of Jussie:

 

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THIS HATE CRIME against our brother @jussiesmollett is proof that no matter how famous you may be it still does not protect you from vicious racist homophobes !! AND It is still a risk daily to be a BLACK , OUT , and PROUD human being . I am sending so much love to you Jussie . Praying for your healing . Thank you for being such an inspiration to me & soooooo mannnnny people . Thank you for inspiring us to walk in our truth . Thank you for choosing freedom over fear . I will continue to walk BOLD , BLACK , & PROUD in your honor always . 🖤🌈 With love from your bi/pan/free ass mothafucka sis This pic is of me thanking him for sending flowers after the RS article (which gave me great anxiety btw). What a kind kind kind soul .

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