Jussie Smollett Removed From Remaining 'Empire' Season 5 Episodes Following Arrest
News of his departure from the Fox show comes only hours after he made the $100,000 bail that was set following his arrest for filing a false police report and disorderly conduct. After a thorough investigation over the past weeks, the Chicago Police Department surmised that Smollett falsified a report in which he claimed he'd been attacked.
Smollett's exit was made public in a statement released by executives on the series — Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Brett Mahoney, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo and Dennis Hammer. According to Variety, their statement reads:
"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. 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."
So, while the statement reveals that Smollett won't participate in the final episodes of the current season, it doesn't mean he's entirely wiped from the series. As the statement indicates, Smollett's future on the show depends upon the ultimate outcome of his upcoming investigation.
Prior to his suspension, Smollett reportedly apologized to his fellow cast and crew members for the press surrounding the case. According to TMZ, the actor's apology also maintained his innocence, as he reportedly said, "I'm sorry I've put you all through this and not answered any calls. I wanted to say I'm sorry, and, you know me, I would never do this to any of you, you are my family. I swear to God, I did not do this"
In January, the actor claimed he had been attacked by two assailants who hurled racist and homophobic slurs while beating him, tying a noose around his neck and pouring an unidentified substance on him. Smollett also said the attackers used the phrase "MAGA Country," a reference to President Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan.
In the past week or so, however, Smollett's narrative began to change as suspicion that he falsified the event, and perhaps paid two acquaintances to help stage the attack, arose.
On Thursday, February 21, the Chicago Police Department shared that, upon their investigation, they believed that Smollett's account was in fact false, attributing a desire to up his salary as motivation for his actions. The charges against Smollett could result in some jail time as well as major fines if he is found guilty.
Empire, Wednesdays, 8/7c, Fox